Elizabeth Gilbert and a different way to think about creative genius

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    Feb 11, 2009 10:15 PM GMT
    Ive never watched any video on TED before, just recently cause it was mentioned on the post about Identity Crisis, which was a very interesting topic I read every single comment from.

    Today however I was watching this video :

    QUOTE AUTHOR GOES HERE"Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses -- and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius. It's a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk."


    It was such an amazing talk i think, and seriously for all of us, artists, engineers, scientists, students and thinkers in general; this is my Valentine gift for you. Just a different point of view, that will help you go through the most anxious moments in your professional life.


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    Feb 11, 2009 11:52 PM GMT
    ted's great! especially their recent talks on happiness.
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    Feb 11, 2009 11:58 PM GMT
    Wow, thanks for posting that.icon_smile.gif
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    Feb 12, 2009 12:05 AM GMT
    I think this was the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern take on creativity as well...a Muse or a demon was responsible for our best and worst thoughts.

    I think there's also a correlation between schizophrenia and creativity, also paralleling the Genie meme.

    Some psychologists and neurologists believe that there's a biological cost for having such large brains, in that with the benefits of genius and creativity comes a greater propensity for mental illness, as compartmentalization in our cognitive processes is broken down.
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    Feb 12, 2009 12:08 AM GMT
    This is precisely why I'm blaming everything that comes out of my mouth or is typed by my fingers on invisible Unseelie Sidhe.
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    Feb 12, 2009 12:12 AM GMT
    TED is amazing! And that video was awesome.

    I strongly suggest this one:

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/richard_dawkins_on_militant_atheism.html

    Sorry, I've no idea how you embedded it.
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    Feb 12, 2009 12:17 AM GMT
    I saw that one. It was awesome!
  • MusicMan87

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    Feb 12, 2009 12:33 AM GMT
    this is great! so great to see the thought processes of great minds and how artists are often judged so harshly... but she still brings optimism to it! what a great speaker, i'm gonna check out more !
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    Feb 12, 2009 12:59 AM GMT
    I found this book to be amazing on analyzing how a person is creative....from things we see as creative...writing, composing, designing....to solving everyday problems. The author analyzes the mental functions that go into be creative to see if the "creative" person is somehow really different than an ordinary person.....I think anyone wiith any curiosity on creativity will enjoy reading this book...

    mindsbestwork4.jpg ....sorry, I had to paste this together to get almost the whole cover

    on amazon: http://tinyurl.com/dloun5

    "Quite an engaging book on creativity - because it is not pretentious, not doctrinaire, not out to demonstrate that you, too, have the makings of a Mozart or a Picasso. Instead, Harvard researcher Perkins sets forth various propositions on what goes into creating, and then systematically dissects, destroys, amends, or polishes them. Example: "When it's right you know it." Revised proposition: "The maker's feelings of rightness or wrongness reveal only rather unreliably the actual state of affairs. . . makers acquire strategies to compensate for the unreliability of their judgments, however sure or unsure they feel." Perkins has obviously examined the literature of "Aha" - of illumination following incubation - and conducted many tests himself, such as out-loud reporting by artists and writers in process. He has also read the recollections-in-tranquility, the older insight theorists, and the newer Koestlers and left-brain/right-brain preachers. He is as well versed as any in the anecdotal literature: e.g., Mozart composing the overture to Don Giovanni in the wee morning hours prior to the premiere performance. Perkins adopts just the right note of skepticism, constructive criticism, plausible explanation. We end up with some reasonable thoughts on the combination of intelligence and ability, personality factors, and chance events that go into creating. Purpose, Perkins emphasizes, is crucial. To achieve purpose, the creator makes plans and may incorporate any number of strategies or tactics (noticing, realizing, directed remembering, problem-finding, heuristics, hill-climbing) - all of which build toward a superior, original kind of selection. [my emphasis] Numerous examples shore up the arguments and illustrate the points, and Perkins also wins with some modestly funny jokes, puzzles old and new, and teasing, do-it-yourself instructions. No royal road to creativity, but an instructive, entertaining hunt. (Kirkus Reviews) "
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    Feb 12, 2009 5:37 AM GMT


    Wow, thanks Charlitos. That's quite the Valentine, and this writer appreciates it!
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    Feb 12, 2009 6:05 AM GMT
    Thank you so much for this. I'm a dancer so that last part really got my attention. It's so great that somebody has put into words so elequently what I can't sometimes. I will be showing this to my professor in my Creative Process class.

    Thanks again, Charlitos.
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    Feb 12, 2009 6:14 AM GMT
    mickeytopogigio saidI think this was the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern take on creativity as well...a Muse or a demon was responsible for our best and worst thoughts.


    It's Daemon! Daemon! LOL (ObsceneWish corrected me on that very same thing before icon_redface.gif )

    I am one of those vile creatures called artists. Though I have yet to really aspire to do 'real' visual art (my main area of 'expression'), I still get those "moments" of extreme creativity.

    The fact that I get those often when I am experiencing an extreme emotion makes it all the more 'dangerous' as she says. Some of my most creative moments are when I was dangerously depressed or deliriously happy.

    And it's exactly like the way she describes it, LOL. It just comes, and whatever you're doing you feel the irresistible urge to drop it. You need to capture it somehow and share it.

    When I feel extremely sad, I want people to know how sad I am When I am content I want people to know it. When I am happy I want people to know it. When I see something beautiful, I want everyone to know how beautiful it is. Anyone who are artists here will probably understand that desire. Because it is not about merely telling people about what I feel... it's about letting them experience it themselves through a poem, or a picture, or a song, or a dance, or a paragraph of a story.

    I don't know. There are times when I wish I could just take a 'snapshot' of whatever it is, and other people would see exactly what I saw. That's how I feel about the "genius" of artists. The main drive I feel is to show other people what I see.

    That is actually the reason why I do not like the extreme forms of abstract art (*cough*Pollock*cough*). They leave the imagination to the viewer alone. But that's another debate. icon_wink.gif

    Perhaps artists are selfish. Egotistical. We need the praise. The recognition of our work. And why not? Every time we work, on even the merest snip of a verse, the faintest brush stroke, the tiniest gestures of a dance, we are investing part of ourselves in it. They have value, as to how much of our 'soul' went into it.

    Case to point: ever noticed how artists often keep some of their works, no matter how much money is offered? The works sold in art galleries while the artist is still alive are actually the ones he feels least about, hence why the works of dead artists are often worth more.

    Heck, I drew something on a notebook leaf once. Only a few hours were spent on it, but it was made during one of those 'crazy' artist times, and as such held value more than its apparent worth. The notebook got soaked and it was ruined. The feeling of loss was indescribable. I tried to copy it exactly the way it was drawn, but couldn't. I felt like crying for days.

    It's part of you. A part of you went into making it, and there is a huge pressure to get other people to see it and like it too. So huge that one nasty critique can make you want to kill someone. True art (the artificial kind) is very very personal. The instances of artists falling into despair after gaining fame on one work and then not being able to match that success again is also another reflection of this. That maybe somehow the fact that they liked it was actually not because of the reasons the artist thought it would be. Or they'll grow bitter at the apparent inability for the 'masses' to see what he sees. etc.

    That is how I view creativity. And why it could so easily lead to self-destruction.

    For example, some instances that lead to artists offing themselves (either deliberately or through just losing that drive to live):

    • When an artist can't seem to get your perception across, he begins to blame himself. For example, if an artist truly has the talent of seeing beauty but not the knowledge of the techniques in capturing it, he would feel himself a failure.

    • When an artist finally achieves the goal of making people see, hear, or feel the way he does and he achieves that moment of "transcendence" (as Gilbert termed it), the trip back down to Earth can be quite depressing.

    • When an artist begins to rely on a certain emotion that he captures best, he becomes trapped in it. Poets who write sad poems for example. We all know what happened to most of them.

    • When an artist's audience just don't seem to 'get it'


    I am not sure how Gilbert would be successful with her advice though. Heh. Stubbornness in the face of crickets chirping at our work, is not something that artists are noted for. She may be right, we may be unconsciously emulating the stereotype of artists as brash, perpetually depressed, crazy individuals. Maybe we need to um 'discipline the force' LOL. Instead of having those irregular torrents of creativity whenever we get overloaded, why not let it flow evenly, with less strain on our emotions... Would certainly leave most of us happier.

    But... I dunno. Art that is done when feeling quite uninspired (or not inspired enough) is dull. It's lifeless and it feels like work. THAT is probably the problem. icon_neutral.gif
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    Feb 12, 2009 6:37 AM GMT

    Nice post, Sedative. I tried the structured approach and there was a resounding slurp as the muse dried up. I don't believe you can force the creative process.

    I've been asked what happens when creativity hits. The best I can say is that it's as though a window or door opens; I look through it and write down what I see. There's an accompanying physical sensation of warmth all over and what I can only describe as an endorphin high.

    When I was young sadness was the wellspring or trigger for writing. Then it changed at one point - not sure when- and became prolific when feeling elated. Is this like Pavlov's dogs? Now when I write elation follows, making my keystrokes swift and my heart light.

    -Doug
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    Feb 12, 2009 6:43 AM GMT
    Sedative saidBut... I dunno. Art that is done when feeling quite uninspired (or not inspired enough) is dull. It's lifeless and it feels like work. THAT is probably the problem.


    Gilbert was basically focusing on the expectations that surround individuals who have become famous through their work. These specific factor brings many artists down. Many of them struggle and go through a very depressing mental process in order to be better or just as good.

    This is not about the fact of being creative or not but not to be worried when creativity is not there with you when you have and want to do your job. It is about not giving up, and not loosing that disposition. Some artists might freak out after being really successful and just stop their work cause they are scared to have a bad performance, we've seen that happening a lot.

    This is intended to educate the artists and their audience, so the audience recognize these artists did their best even if the results are not as good as expected. This way the artists will feel free to work and enjoy what they do without the pressure of expectation.

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    Feb 12, 2009 7:03 AM GMT
    GuerrillaSodomite saidThis is precisely why I'm blaming everything that comes out of my mouth or is typed by my fingers on invisible Unseelie Sidhe.

    Named Sedative?
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    Feb 12, 2009 7:25 AM GMT
    charlitos said
    Sedative saidBut... I dunno. Art that is done when feeling quite uninspired (or not inspired enough) is dull. It's lifeless and it feels like work. THAT is probably the problem.


    Gilbert was basically focusing on the expectations that surround individuals who have become famous through their work. These specific factor brings many artists down. Many of them struggle and go through a very depressing mental process in order to be better or just as good.

    This is not about the fact of being creative or not but not to be worried when creativity is not there with you when you have and want to do your job. It is about not giving up, and not loosing that disposition. Some artists might freak out after being really successful and just stop their work cause they are scared to have a bad performance, we've seen that happening a lot.

    This is intended to educate the artists and their audience, so the audience recognize these artists did their best even if the results are not as good as expected. This way the artists will feel free to work and enjoy what they do without the pressure of expectation.



    Ahhh. icon_razz.gif I kinda got lost somewhere in her meanderings and read more into it. Heh

    And yeah, very true. Often artists resort to forcing that creativity just to achieve the same measure of success. But yeah, it can't be forced. It's not something that you can call up when needed (hence the various personifications of inspiration as a mischievous and fickle spirit in different cultures). And yeah it's a good message. icon_smile.gif I just hope the audience realizes it too, instead of demanding too much and criticizing the artist for not meeting their expectations the second time around. Forgot to thank you for sharing that vid btw. icon_razz.gif Thanks. icon_biggrin.gif

    Pinny said
    GuerrillaSodomite saidThis is precisely why I'm blaming everything that comes out of my mouth or is typed by my fingers on invisible Unseelie Sidhe.

    Named Sedative?


    Racist! Why do we have to be blamed for everything! The Seelie do their fair share of evil too! There are good and bad Unseelies, and good and bad Seelies.

    END THE FAIRY RACISM NOW!

    x1p4JHjVbcjTC_-O4TEMldB3V3IhXmXfBTt-b8w1

    DER ERLK├ľNIG

    For Sidhe Ring President

    2009
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    Feb 12, 2009 7:34 AM GMT
    Oh quit yer yapping! I blame the Darkling Throng over The Glittering Throng because you really think some lame ass boring Seelie is going to inspire some of the sick shit that I come up with?icon_twisted.gif

    Unseelie throw better parties anyway. And watch your tongue because I'm like total buds with The Queen of Air and Darkness herself and she'll fuck you up just for shits and giggles.

    Oh, and fuck The Erlking. I am the lord and master of the Wild Hunt, not him. Keep it up and I'll send the Sluagh after you. Seelie or Unseelie, they'll eat ya just the same.
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    I brought the Gabriel Ratchets wif me too. Be careful, they ain't house trained yet and their piddle is pretty much just liquid hellfire.