Thursday, 7 January 2010
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
An artist in the Woody Allen film Vicky Cristina Barcelona said he needed to paint because he had 'all these emotions that needed to come out'. I can't remember if he actually said 'I need to express myself', but you can imagine that he might have. I've become quite wary of this idea over the years. What does 'express yourself' mean? Is it like 'I feel I've got something to say'? What does it mean for a self to express itself? The idea seems a bit vacuous to me, and unhelpful.
The notion that something has to be generated 'inside' before it can be 'sent out' is likely to leave most of us feeling quite inadequate to the task. But what about the idea of response, rather than expression? Couldn't creativity be thought of as a response, to something much bigger than ourselves? I was watching a documentary about the sculptor Anish Kapoor the other day. He said something like, 'Of course no-one sets out to create beauty. But you have to be able to recognise it when it appears'.
Finding a response, or perhaps recognising something, is, of course, not always easy. Maisel suggests, amongst other things, that responding/recognising is impossible if you're 'on the run':
You might be able to do simple things on the run and do them well. You may be able to create on the run and create well, tossing off a drawing or a line of a poem that is richer than anything you labour over. But what you can't do on the run is understand the relationships between person, work and world that this book explores... (1995:xxxi)
He talks about what he calls 'hushing' (he's American....):
Hushing is what we do when we go into a museum and sit in front of one painting for fifteen minutes... Hushing is a quieting and an opening. There is no creative life without this ability to hush. If you hush only infrequently, if you hush when you encounter someone else's work but not in support of your own work, you must learn to hush more... If your mind is full of noise, you must quiet it...
You need a quiet mind so that ideas will have the chance of connecting. You are hushing your mind so you can use your mind. But much too often our mind is on autoscan, darting from one thought, usually a negative one, to another... (1995:4)