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Ocean
12-01-2008, 01:10 PM
I have been very intrigued by what triggers artistic inspiration. Sometimes it's impossible to pinpoint. It may be an external object at times, but probably not the most common occurrence. Most likely inspiration is internally driven. It represents an attempt to reach an aspect of our psychological life which is not readily available to rational analysis.

I enjoy art greatly. At times I'm driven to produce my modest but immensely rewarding form of art (drawing and painting). At other times I'm driven to observe someone else's work and see what I "learn" or understand or just experience from it. Lately I've been wondering whether introspection in a way can be considered 'art'. And I mean this in a very, very abstract way. If introspection is a means of "knowing oneself", is this (self) discovery also an act of creation?

As we approach the end of the year, it's good to engage in some form of reflection. Or at least this has been the case for me, although not always very successful. I've resurfaced a couple of my favorite books. There are books that seem to be an endless fountain of wisdom: each time you read them you can discover a new meaning. Were we blind to a certain content before? Or do we 'create' the meaning each time we read?

I'm intending to pick meaningful thoughts from my readings/ reflections. For today, the one that sticks in my head is the Ancient Greek Aphorism: "Know yourself".

Who dares to say that's an easy task?

I'd love to see what others think.

uncle ebeneezer
12-01-2008, 03:04 PM
Hey Ocean, as someone who spends the vast majority of my conscious existence doing "creative" things (namely writing songs) this has always been a subject that interests me. When I come up with a melody am I drawing from something inside that needs to get out, or am I merely taking elements of something I have witnessed (other songs, rythyms, melodic themes etc.) and simply playing a little mix-and-match until I get something that moves me in some way consistent with my current mood. Unfortunately after 20 years or so, i still don't know the answer. I would tend to lean more towards the latter, only because as far as my own song-writing process, I have made a pretty regular practice of the Frankenstein, (sewing-together-pieces) approach and it has been largely successful for me. Whereas, if I were trying to write a story or draw or paint something, I often feel like I just flat-out have no idea where to start (even though I have decent technical ability in both of those areas.)

I definitely have found that introspection (especially during hard, emotional times) amps up my inner-fountain of ideas (or at least the feeling urgency to write something). Just out of curiosity, what are the things you read that continue to inspire you? I have a tough time re-reading books but there are a few that I have gone back to over the years: The Fountainhead, A Prayer for Owen Meany (Irving), The Gunslinger (S. King), Secret History (Donna Tartt) and Catch-22, to name a couple.

In a more direct answer to your question, I would have to say that yes, introspection is creative. Most creative acts involve taking scraps of knowledge and re-arranging them for some purpose. So looking at yourself and performing a self-analysis of sorts, seems like an extension of creativity. Especially since, some of the best introspection involves not just following some behavioral or cognitive model, but throwing out your assumptions and really trying to take an honest, unpredjudiced look at yourself.

Anyways, thanks for raising yet another interesting topic.

Speaking of art, have you seen these? (click on right arrow for more):

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/howaboutthat/3519419/Foodscapes-amazing-food-art-by-Carl-Warner.html

Pretty creative stuff.

Ocean
12-01-2008, 11:01 PM
I definitely have found that introspection (especially during hard, emotional times) amps up my inner-fountain of ideas (or at least the feeling urgency to write something). Just out of curiosity, what are the things you read that continue to inspire you? I have a tough time re-reading books but there are a few that I have gone back to over the years: The Fountainhead, A Prayer for Owen Meany (Irving), The Gunslinger (S. King), Secret History (Donna Tartt) and Catch-22, to name a couple.

Except for the last one, I haven't read any of the others.

I find that the way people go about art and introspection tells you about how they understand the relationship between the world and the individual.

Currently I can't make a lot of sense out of the world, so I find this a good time to capture themes that I grasp around me and see how they may be related to my own inner life. The problem with that is that many times I have to choose between dealing with the outside or with the inside world because the links between the two have somehow disappeared. The rules have changed so to speak.


The book I was referring to is one of my favorites, old and very brief but very meaningful (at least to me). It just has always helped me 'organize' my thoughts and do some reality checks. It isn't "a challenge to your imagination" book. It's like let's get a little centered here kind of book. It makes me think about the balance between the outward impulse (adventure, challenge, actively take on the world), and the inward impulse (seek internal homeostasis, balance). I think that there are stereotypical gender related differences between the two. But most importantly and beyond gender dichotomies, the two impulses (inwards/outwards) may be more directly associated to the kind of challenge you are facing, something in the outside world or something at home.

The book is Erich Fromm's "The Art of Loving". It's a wonderful book even if you may not agree with everything in it. I certainly disagree with a few aspects, but overall I find it very grounding as a description of the psychological growth of people towards individuation and freedom. I don't know if you know Fromm's writings. He is a secular (socialist?) humanist of the last century. Some of his stuff may appear outdated, and yet, is it? I'm not citing wikipedia data as it is filled with nonsense these days. That's what we get from relying on the "wisdom of the Internet", an artificial world can be created so easily, just by feeding the right (or wrong?) kind of information.



In a more direct answer to your question, I would have to say that yes, introspection is creative. Most creative acts involve taking scraps of knowledge and re-arranging them for some purpose. So looking at yourself and performing a self-analysis of sorts, seems like an extension of creativity. Especially since, some of the best introspection involves not just following some behavioral or cognitive model, but throwing out your assumptions and really trying to take an honest, unpredjudiced look at yourself.

Oh, you mean trying to interpret the upside down world as a reflection of you, with all the good and the bad and the in between?

Sure, that's there of course. Seeing yourself in a mirror (and a cruel one at times) is humbling , angering (very), and painful. But there are 'islands of calm and appreciation', a real party!

The problem is that even if you discover that 'unprejudiced' view of yourself, there is still the not knowing how to change it . I'm more knowledgeable about what doesn't work than what works. The principle of changing 'inside' first may work, but does it? And not an easy task...

But then, there's the other issue, how does this work? How? Why?

That's the inside/outside dichotomy or perhaps in this case not so much of a dichotomy after all.

Related to it is the 'blindness' and the isolation. If you can abstract the world as a reflection of your inner self, it's at least at first, non shareable with others. That lack of connection makes it ever more difficult to process and cope with. Talking about Fromm's idea of "separateness"!

There are some modest moments of solace, but few of those and mostly found in the simplest of life.

Anyways, thanks for raising yet another interesting topic.

Thank you for following up.

Speaking of art, have you seen these? (click on right arrow for more):

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/howaboutthat/3519419/Foodscapes-amazing-food-art-by-Carl-Warner.html

Pretty creative stuff.

I guess you can call it tasty stuff, just a little bland, but certainly creative. Not too inspiring for me though.


Hey, are you still awake? :)