Musing over the Creative Efforts

nearing closure

Closing in on the Finish of this Watercolor (I think)

Creative algorithms undulate beneath the dark, quiet pools of solitude.

David Tripp

O.K., so I open with a post of one of my original quotes, not even half-baked, being less than an hour old at this time. This morning, at the dining room table, I was feeling creatively “flat”, and chafed inwardly that it was Saturday morning and I was still unsatisfied at the progress I was making on my preparations for this fall’s term.

After breakfast, I put on my Big Boy pants, and went out, looking for a public, yet quiet spot to work on my courses. I settled on a public library, and before roughing out my syllabus for Classical Judaism, opened Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet and began reading, for about the fourth or fifth time, these marvelously personal documents.

Rilke writes so eloquently about the gift of solitude for creative exploits, and as I wrote, I began compiling a list of books from my personal library that I plan to place on my writing desk once I get back home again: Solitude, by Anthony Storr, A Sand County Almanac, by Leopold Bloom, Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, The Eternal Now, by Paul Tillich, Quiet, by Susan Cain and Hamlet’s Blackberry, by William Powers.

As I began writing from memory some of my favorite quotes about solitude, and then exploring the Internet for more quotes, I wondered why I had not by now come up with my own original line about solitude. So, I fiddled with this, and before long had a page of quotes, stopping with the one I posted above.

I plan to continue noodling with this quote because I am still wrestling with some of the ideas. To begin with, I have difficulty associating “algorithm” with “creativity”, I suppose because I cannot conceive of a set of rules or specific process that guarantees creative results. That is why I used the word “undulating” to describe these steps, because they seem always to be changing, for me as well as for all that I have read of the myriad of creative spirits who have preceded us and left behind testimonies of their processes.

The image in my memory that inspired the quote I am composing is what I saw at Beaver Creek Reservoir on a couple of occasions recently in South Fork, Colorado. While moving from place to place, seeking a decent spot to fish for trout, I happened across this location in the reservoir where the creek flowed into the enormous lake. The water was clear as crystal, the sun was low on the horizon, and with the help of polarized sunglasses, I was allowed to peer deep beneath the surface where I saw myriads of rainbow and brown trout, darting and circling deep below. I felt a calming effect as I contrasted the glassy, mirror-like surface of the quiet waters with the constantly changing configurations of trout too numerous to count, congregating, separating, clustering again, scattering again. As I watched this constant pulse, I laughed, remembering a scene from the film A Beautiful Mind. John Nash’s colleagues at Princeton were making fun of him as he walked backward, stooped over a cluster of pigeons in the grass. He responded that he was trying to determine the algorithm of the pigeons’ movements as they searched for food.

I suppose that is the fallacy of trying to write about the creative process. But at any rate, I found the inspiration to dive back into my course on Classical Judaism, and before I knew it, managed to organize the body of research I have worked on all summer into a semester’s strategy, and then arranged it into my fifteen-week schedule. So . . . the early morning’s chafing finally yielded to a satisfying conclusion.

I have posted above the watercolor commission that I began about a month ago, and recently resumed after a vacation hiatus. I feel that I am getting closer to the end, and that is a good thing. College begins for me in about ten days, and I need to begin pouring more daily hours into that endeavor. I am privileged to teach Classical Judaism (online) for the first time ever, and will also devise a way to coordinate a pair of Logic classes (one online, the other in the classroom). I am sufficiently rested from my travels and changes in perspective, and though I still have New Mexico and Colorado in my dreams, I am grounded once again in Texas soil.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

 

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