Monday, April 06, 2009

First thoughts cast the die

Creativity emphasizes that almost all our thinking is heavily influenced by our past experiences. Even when we think we are thinking afresh, we are simply taking forward 'work in progress'. This dependence of today on yesterday is what needs to be countered by various techniques.
By sheer coincidence, I have come across a most apt and interesting description of this dependence. Read this excerpt from the book 'Art and Fear' (, which I highly recommend:

'The artwork's potential is never higher than in that magic moment when
the first brushstroke is applied, the first chord struck. But as the
piece grows, technique and craft take over, and imagination becomes a
less useful tool. A piece grows by becoming specific. The moment
Herman Melville penned the opening line. "Call me Ishmael", one actual
story – Moby Dick—began to separate itself from a multitude of
imaginable others. And so on through the following five hundred-odd
pages, each successive sentence in some way had to acknowledge and
relate to all that preceded. Joan Didion nailed this issue squarely
(and with trademark pessimism) when she said, "What's so hard about
that first sentence is that you're stuck with it. Everything else is
going to flow out of that sentence. And by the time you've laid down
the first two sentences, your options are all gone."

It's the same for all media: the first few brushstrokes to the blank
canvas satisfy the requirements of many possible paintings, while the
last few fit only that painting – they could go nowhere else.'

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