Sunday, April 30, 2017

"tremendous beauty and continuous revelation"

"Exploring the Psychology of Creativity" (click for the video.) Below are some quotes from a conversation between Marc Mayer, Director of The National Gallery of Canada, and Dr. Jordan Peterson, Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto. March 9, 2017. I liked the video; you might also. Peterson has a Jungian perspective, and he leaves room for the dignity and freedom of human beings.

Professor Peterson, University of Toronto
Photo via BBC News Toronto
The known world inside chaos: "Imagine that the world is basically explored territory inside an unexplored territory.... Every world is like that."

Where artists live: "The artists like to be right out on the edge. That's the edge between chaos and order.  They like to expand the domain of order out into chaos. They do that first by transforming perception."

Artist on the edge: "You can fall into the chaos at any time."

Artist as dream: "Artists have always been on the frontier of human understanding. The artist bears the same relationship to society that the dream bears to mental life."

More artist as dream: "The dream mediates between order and chaos. It starts to make chaos into order, so it's half chaos. That's why it's not comprehensible. And artists play exactly the same role in society."

Old and New Worlds: "The beauty that the Europeans have produced, it's infinitely valuable.... People go from all over the world on pilgrimage to Europe just to look at beautiful things. It nourishes their soul. They're priceless. Paris is priceless. Rome is priceless. And it's all beauty that drives it. It's phenomenally valuable! And Canada is just ugly as sin. Really. Really. We should be ashamed of ourselves."

Ugly as sin: "Hell is a place of drop ceilings and fluorescent lights."

What there is other than worldly success: "One of the things that pays off big for creative people is that they get to be creative. There's great aesthetic joy in that, and depth."

Jung and the arts: "The reason Jungian psychology works is because it works for creative people. It doesn't work at all for non-creative people. It just falls dead and flat for them. It isn't how they think."

Power of art: "It speaks of the ultimate depths...."

The start of a great explanation of how publishing works according to an airport book shelf, and how winner takes all: "Half the money in the publishing business goes to Stephen King."

Openness as a personality trait for artists: "Creativity loads very high on openness."

The artist's gamble: "There's a high probability you will lose."

Teen telling parents about a desire to be an artist: "It's like discussing color with someone who is color blind."

Artists and society: "Artists and entrepreneurs are the same people."

On regimentation in schools: "They're factories. You don't produce creative people in factories. You produce factory workers. That's fine except there aren't any factory workers anymore, so we should probably stop doing it."

The pepper grain in a salt shaker: "Creative people are as rare as the winners of races."

Worldy success for artists: "You have to be more creative than everyone else, and good luck with that."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Curiouser and curiouser


The fabulous Miss Yo-Yo!
I've written seven pieces so far for a collaborative project that will result in a solo show in September, one that mixes visual arts (pen and ink, with colored inks) with poems and stories. Though I can't say anything much about it in public now--because we all love good surprises, and I can't spoil this one--I will be writing about it more privately in The Rollipoke, no. 3, for those of you who are subscribed.

It's one of the odder series of works I have committed to doing, and has certain challenges that are unusual. I was invited to do this work by Detroit-born painter Yolanda Sharpe (who also sings with Glimmerglass Opera and is the highly successful head of the SUNY-Oneonta art department, so she's formidable--see her work at yolandasharpe.com) and am finding it interesting and sometimes amusing.
SaveSave

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hodgepodgery

Yellow-blue morning

Four male and three female goldfinches perched on the feeder, backed by a lawn that is a low meadow in shades of blue scilla and a few yellow crocuses. Plus a persistent squirrel. I am recalling my father's electrifying squirrel-defenses....

More on my wanderings, for the curious or downright nosey--

Grovewood Gallery by Grove Park Inn
After I returned from Paris, I devoted three weeks to a North Carolina trip. This one was entirely personal, as I went down to give my mother (now 88, not 89, as I had thought--weak math!) a hiking companion (thank you, Etheree Chancellor, for being a good hiking friend) and more. My mother is still active volunteering for the North Carolina Arboretum, gardening at her home in Cullowhee, and weaving, so she is still up for many outings and for hiking in the Nantahala Forest or Panther Falls Trail (near Tallulah Gorge, GA) or Pinnacle Park in Sylva or near Fontana Dam, etc. We also explored interesting or just plain wacky museums (rocks! tartans! historic houses!) all over western North Carolina. We ate out constantly (when we weren't home with such deep-South favorites as green boiled peanuts and field peas and okra) in Asheville and Franklin and Sylva. We marched all over the Asheville arts district, rambling through studios and galleries (stopping to eat at White Duck Tacos because my mother said she had no one who wanted to go there with her) and to the Grovewood Gallery at Grove Park Inn, and to see weaver Susan Leveille at Oaks Gallery in Dillsboro, etc. etc.

Now you know.

I came back in time for a wonderful Holy Week, and now here I am, company departed and ready to work. I have a batch of manuscripts to read, a novel to revise, poems to write for a special project in the fall (I'll write about that in The Rollipoke, for those of you who are subscribers), and a talk for Buechner Workshops to contemplate and begin.

Jordan Murray and self-publishing

As Jordan is a friend and daughter of friends and was in Cooperstown to sing (we have occasionally sung together in choir, though she is a far better singer than I am) and babysit doggies, I invited her for Easter dinner. I'm curious about self-publishing and have been interested in her progress. (Remember when her possible covers were posted? "Help Jordan Murray Pick a Cover." She picked one and The Emperor's Horn is now out.) Since she writes fantasy and science fiction, I'm fantasizing that she will find the pot of gold at rainbow's end and go to Clarion and meet lots of writers and have the fun of going through the fine-tooth comb that is Clarion critiquing. (It is transformative fun, or so say the Clarionites. Though the ones I've met also say they didn't sleep all that much for six weeks.) I've asked her for some comments on her road to publishing, and here they are:

There is undeniable value in the artistic freedom that self-publishing enables.

Respecting that value with high quality work takes vigilance and sacrifice, and it takes a great deal of time. Commitments to goals are easily sabotaged by impatience, one of the ugliest enemies of any author or artist. After all, isn't self-publishing supposed to be faster and easier than the traditional route?

Self-awareness is an essential part of the process.

Self-publishing requires the author examine their work with staggering levels of humility and honesty. They must learn to recognize their weakest skills and confront them until they either get better at it or hire professional help. There's no shame at all in hiring a professional editor or artist. True, it involves more up front expenses, but, it also provides the rare opportunity of choosing your collaborators.

It's important for independent authors to realize that extensive editing is only the beginning of their commitment to self-publishing.

Repeated, time-consuming tasks that have very little to do with the simple joy of writing will fill days, months, and years of their lives. Will it make them a better writer? Yes. Will it teach them valuable life skills? Frequently. Will it make them a bitter, frustrated person who resents their choice? It might. But, the choice for one person to do it all need not be a permanent one.

Contracts with editors and publishers elapse, change, and evolve in traditional circuits just as self-published authors may choose to become traditionally published during their careers. There need not be such a strong division between the two. The path an author takes to crafting and publishing a good story can be uniquely suited to their own needs. That is an exciting prospect, and the pursuit of art for art's sake is equally important to keep alive during the process.