Monday, February 16, 2009

Elizabeth Gilbert's TED talk on creativity

Here's a link to one of the most amazing talks I've ever heard:

Unlike many artists, I am amazingly bad at talking about The Creative Process. What is creativity? Where does it come from? "Where do you get your ideas?" - now there's a conversation-stopper, at least when it's addressed to me! Why do some people "have it" while others "aren't creative"? (heinously not so, in my understanding of the way things work, but a surprisingly ubiquitous view).

And why am I so mute when someone tries to engage me in conversation on the subject? ME! A normally bright, funny, opinionated, articulate person, and certainly not loathe to blather on about almost anything. Whether or not I know anything about the subject at hand! Yet when it comes to the topic of how/why I do what I now spend my days doing, about all I can manage is a self-disparaging "Oh, I just make stuff. Small art quilts. Surface design. You know, fabric..." Well, nobody's too sure what that means...must be code for "Beware - Flaky Artist on the scene; better get your crystals out and align your chakras!"

I could go all mystical: "I don't really know - things just happen. I just like to play." (Kinda true, but incomplete, inadequate, insufficient.) Or I could go cerebral, launch into long theories and "process" talk, most of which leads directly and in short order to the kind of pompous, self-congratulatory mental masturbation that drives me right straight crazy. Or there's always the time-honored Tortured Soul route - that's an archetype that our society has a definite place for. (And how come, by the way, we have no tradition of the Cheerful Artist? The Gleeful Soul, who creates for the sheer joy of being in the Universe?...Ooops, I see that leads right back to The Flake!)

Mystical Flake, Fatuous Narcissistic Ass, Tortured Artist: surely the creative life deserves more! Gilbert comes closer to expressing my own experience and understanding of creativity and the artist than any I've come across so far. I'm not going to recap what she says here; just, please, if you're interested in the subject at all, take the 19 minutes and watch this video!

And then let's talk!

1 comment:

Linda M. Poole said...

I am sooo happy you were touched by the video. When I posted it on QuiltArt, my intention was:if I could just touch one other person like this video touched me, then I am happy.