Archives for June, 2010
"I want to keep my sufferings. They are part of me and my art." Painter Edvard Munch "I had the feeling therapy was good for my writing very early on." Filmmaker Agnes Jaoui Referring to Munch’s statement, psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison notes in her book Touched with fire: Manic-depressive illness and the artistic temperament: "This is a common concern. Many artists and writers believe that turmoil, suffering, and extremes in emotional experience are integral not only to the human condition but to their abilities as artists." She adds that many fear that "psychiatric treatment will transform them into normal, well-adjusted, dampened, and bloodless souls — unable, or unmotivated, to write, paint, or compose."
As an actor, Amber Benson may be best known as Tara on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and she has continued to do other acting projects since then. She has multiple credits as a novelist and screenwriter, co-writing and directing an animated web-series, Ghosts of Albion, for the BBC, and co-writing several Buffy comics. She has written, produced, and directed three feature films, including her latest, Drones. Her novels include "Among The Ghosts," coming in August - a "spooky Boarding School/cool girl heroine/ghost story" as she describes it on her blog. In various interviews, Benson describes some of her thinking and experiences as a writer.
One of the defining qualities of creative people is passionate intensity. Creative visionaries, people who make a strong impact on culture, make use of their intensities to fuel creative expression. Joss Whedon is writer, producer and director of movies and TV shows including Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and Dollhouse. Last year he received the third annual 2009 Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism from Harvard. In his acceptance speech video, he talked about discovering existentialism as a teenager from seeing Steven Spielberg's movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
Creative people often acknowledge that they respect and make use of their childhood interests, experiences and personalities, perhaps in ways that other people don't, or tend to discard as adults. Feeling joyful and enthusiastic, unhurried, unstructured and uncritical as a kid are all qualities that can encourage creativity. But there are also dark sides of childhood for many people that can also motivate powerful writing and other creative work.
Director Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air") was asked why he has such a good voice for writing women characters, and he replied: "One, I write well about things that I'm most curious. Two, I've had two long relationships with older women in my life." [From interview by Rebecca Murray.] Probably most writers and other artists share his perspective that curiosity fuels creativity in some ways. Psychologist Todd Kashdan says, "Curiosity has been neglected, even though there are few things in our arsenal that are so consistently and highly related to every facet of well-being — to needs for belonging, for meaning, for confidence, for autonomy, for spirituality, for achievement, for creativity."
"The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive." This famous and widely-circulated quote of writer Pearl Buck (winner of a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938) continues: "To them... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. "Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create -- so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, their very breath is cut off... "By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating." This "inward urgency" - the pressure to invent, to actualize ideas - is certainly part of the creative mind, and something I will write more about in future posts.
"Why do we assume that a rare and special 'artistic' talent is required for drawing? We don't make that assumption about other kinds of abilities." Author Betty Edwards, known for her book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, goes on to say, "If you can catch a baseball, thread a needle, or hold a pencil and write your name, you can learn to draw skillfully, artistically, and creatively." [From her book Drawing on the Artist Within.] Maybe one reason people think they are not creative is that we are given so many examples in school and the media of eminent, big name artists and creators who have made notable impacts on the world. And, not being one of those (at least not yet), we think that means, "I'm not creative." But we make use of creative thought and problem-solving all the time, even if we are not making "artwork."
I'm pleased to introduce the blog, The Creative Mind, with Douglas Eby. The Creative Mind will explore some of the main emotional and psychological topics that can affect how well or how freely creative people are able to express themselves. Douglas hopes to cater...