Tag: creativity

Vivifying The Way with Your Body and Life

“A Ch’an master once wrote that the wise enshrine the miraculous bones of the ancients within themselves; that is, they do not regard teachings of ways to enlightenment as an external body of knowledge or information to be possessed as an acquisition or believed or revered as inflexible dogma, but rather apply it as far as possible to themselves and their situations, vivifying the way of enlightenment with their own bodies and lives, not just in their thoughts. It is therefore a matter of course that new Buddhist literature has been produced; for the Buddhist canon is not closed, as long as people continue the search for enlightenment.”

Thomas Cleary, introduction to his translation of The Blue Cliff Record

You Don’t Always Have to Find a Solution

John Tarrant Roshi

“When you allow for uncertainty, then you don’t always have to find solutions. You can live through a problem until it’s not a problem anymore. Instead of seeing things as problems, you see the life you are living. You can live your way into the answers. This is different from standing outside of your life and throwing stones at your problems from a safe distance.”

John Tarrant Roshi, “Why Play with Koans?

The Right Sensation

Wallace Stevens

“Pleasure is the pleasure of the powers that create a truth that cannot be arrived at by reason alone, a truth that the poet recognizes by sensation. The morality of the poet’s radiant and productive atmosphere is the morality of the right sensation.”

Wallace Stevens

In Defiance of All That Is Bad

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Creative Discomfort

“[…] in your life, if you’re a good artist, you have one good idea. But if you’re a genius, you maybe have two good ideas.”

Marina Abramović (quoting her professor of art history), quoted in Mason Curry’s Subtle Manouvers newsletter (11.07.22)

“[…] part of the solution is not being so precious about ideas and accepting that they’re just a starting point. The other part—maybe the bigger part—is learning to tolerate discomfort. Is that, in fact, the most important skill for any writer? (Or visual artist or musician or fill-in-the-blank creative person?) It might be. Because so much of the process is just really, really uncomfortable. It requires butting up against your own shortcomings over and over and over.”

Mason Curry, Subtle Manouvers newsletter (11.07.22)

Growing into Yourself as an Artist

Painter David Hockney (Photograph: David Parry/National Portrait Gallery/PA)

“Just work hard, and you will evolve into yourself naturally. Don’t choose who to be—grow into yourself through hard work. All will be revealed. I guarantee that if you paint a still life, it will have your personality in it. You have to trust that. The best things I saw by you today were your self-portrait drawings, because they had no artifice. . . . If I was you, I would strip away all your flashy gimmicks and dare to make “plain” paintings. You will be original, you have to take it on faith. You know what to do. You’ll get where you need to go with time and hard work.”

David Hockney to artist Duncan Hannah (quoted in Mason Currey’s newsletter Subtle Manueuvers, issue ‘Seven Lessons in Being an Artist from Duncan Hannah’)

Abandon Hope

When I think of writing for this blog I sense a hesitation to share, not out of fear, but stinginess. It’s disheartening to dedicate time and hope into a post about something that fascinates or concerns me only for the metrics to show that hardly anyone has read or responded to it. Is there anything worse to a writer? A proximate cause for those paltry view counts could be that I haven’t optimized my writing for search engines (SEO) so most people can’t find the post in the first place. But, what could be the root cause of my stinginess?  

When questioned on his (ugh) ‘method’ David Sedaris advised fellow writers to keep a diary, carry a journal and, most importantly, abandon hope. Why abandon hope? I notice that when hope goes unfulfilled it can morph into its opposite (or one of its many opposites) and begin to thwart the very thing once hoped for. My hope for praise, for thousands of views and hundreds of comments, turned against me. Why bother making the effort only to get silence in return? What else should I write for? That’s for me, and us, to find out.

 

  

Kafka on Keeping a Journal

“One advantage in keeping a diary is that you become aware with reassuring clarity of the changes which you constantly suffer and which in a general way are naturally believed, surmised, and admitted by you, but which you’ll unconsciously deny when it comes to the point of gaining hope or peace from such an admission. In the diary you find proof that in situations which today would seem unbearable, you lived, looked around and wrote down observations, that this right hand moved then as it does today, when we may be wiser because we are able to look back upon our former condition, and for that very reason have got to admit the courage of our earlier striving in which we persisted even in sheer ignorance.”

Franz Kafka

The Political Power of Imagination

“The exercise of imagination is dangerous to those who profit from the way things are because it has the power to show that the way things are is not permanent, not universal, not necessary. Having that real though limited power to put established institutions into question, imaginative literature has also the responsibility of power. The storyteller is the truthteller.”

Ursula K. Le Guin

Amen.

There is No Other Way

“You become a writer by writing. There is no other way. So do it. Do it more. Do it again. Do it better. Fail. Fail better. I think it’s a good idea, especially when you’re younger, you keep your hand in by writing something everyday. So I recommend it, but it’s another one of those recommendations that I myself have been unable to follow.”

Margaret Atwood