Saturday, October 11, 2003

Brain gone AWOL... 

What do you do when your brain goes on standby? Not completely shut down - the basic life support systems are up and running; the lights are on but there's no-one at home. The last couple of days have been like that. Functioning in reactive mode only. Prick him and he jumps; leave him be and he moves automaton-like from one routine task to the next, leaving meaningless spaces between them.

Without something to force change, this state could go on indefinately - and often has. Ming talks about bootstrapping - pulling yourself up by your own bootlaces - and with no guarantee of any external stimulus that's the only way to go. That's why I'm sitting writing this.

Original thought is just as much a creative process as any artistic activity - painting, composing, sculpture, writing etc. The artist's product is a reflection of something going on is his or her own mind; the ultimate purpose of that product is to create a response in the mind of others. The artistic product is just a medium; the tangible means by which the intangible response is brought into being.

Now I'm no artist in the conventional sense and so have no direct experience of exactly how an artist goes about producing art, but hearsay implies that artists need - or at any rate work best in - an appropriate environment. One that provides mental nourishment, stimulation, support, space to play. So if my creative thought processes have shut down, maybe that's because I haven't given them the best environment. That's where bootstrapping comes in - no-one can force creativity, but you can give it a helping hand.

In it's purest form, creative thought deals in abstractions, yet there needs to be some kind of seed to initiate the process. Nothing comes from nothing. Even this line of thought here in this blog came from the notion of an absence of a line of thought. Artists of all kinds find their source material in life (note to self - what about J.S. Bach?); so too must creative thinkers. Ideas feed off each other and its no coincidence that the blogs I watch have been relatively quiet over the last few days.

One way I've found of getting the creative juices flowing is to do something that intrinsically demands creativity such as playing the piano (even playing someone else's composition requires that you have in mind a idea of the sound you want to create), designing and constructing something physical (its amazing the thoughts that spring unbidden to mind whilst screwing pieces of wood together), engaging in dialogue. Or just taking time and space to notice and pay attention to what's around.

I'm going to go and yank on those bootstraps now.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

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