On Creativity

Continuing on this series of posts around the “Origins of Originality” here is another piece that has been ripening for a while.  On re-reading John Berger last spring, I was taken not only by the character of his writing and its appropriateness to our time, but enamored of his titles, On Visibility, for example.  This piece is written with Berger in mind…

I am full of all I see around me: nuance, detail; the way everything fits seamlessly – or so it seems – into the world entire that surrounds me.  As a painter or writer I proceed to take my fire, my love; my desire to acquire, to hold, to capture it all, my feelings in response to such plenitudes; and procede to mark-up a surface, either with daubs of colored mud smeared by brushes or a knife, or as ordered signs laid out in lines with a pen or keyboard.  I begin to make choices, I fall into many compromises.  I break my will to capture it all, and go on to find a way to put something together that resonates in some way, establishing some limited semblance of what had inspired me.

My disappointment, my despair at never achieving this fully, brings to me an inkling, an inkling that what has been achieved just might somehow be sufficient.  The fullness of perception rolls on and on, it cannot be captured.  Existence’s seamless entirety is so intense that, most of the time, we must push it away so as not to drown in infinite perception; but these artifacts, these fossils?…  left over after struggles to paint or write; they concrete to themselves something of the majesty, the mystery of that perception of plenitude and unity that we cannot hold onto any other way.

Struggle, accident, rhymes and awkward conjunctions; all of this jumble; of errors and approximations, guesses, assurances, denials, erasures, certainties and despairs; remain within the resulting artifact.  This accumulation, this action – a series of actions of position or negation – become a recording – not a record – a recording in the active sense – that can be played back again and again; something a painter or writer or viewer or reader can come back to and hold onto.  Something that, paradoxically, remains the same even as the world moves on; but also, something that continues to evolve within the ongoing foment of perceptions as they move forward; a dance of direct and mediated experiences affecting everyone they touch from that first moment of their creation until the piece ceases to exist, or human receptivity itself passes from this earth.

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2 thoughts on “On Creativity

  1. […] The following is from an e-mail I wrote a friend, a painter.  I post it here because while it was intended as a response to a particular person, a friend and colleague, it also continues ruminations I’ve had here in the post Drawing Distinctions and the thread of posts since then, including most recently, On Creativity. […]


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