Your taste—your ear—has been spot-on again and again, across genres. What’s the secret?
I never decide if an idea is good or bad until I try it. So much of what gets in the way of things being good is thinking that we know. And the more that we can remove any baggage we’re carrying with us, and just be in the moment, use our ears, and pay attention to what’s happening, and just listen to the inner voice that directs us, the better. But it’s not the voice in your head. It’s a different voice. It’s not intellect. It’s not a brain function. It’s a body function, like running from a tiger. Instinct.
Yes. But being open to using your instincts instead of going, “Oh, that’s not going to work.” Or listening to the part of your brain that goes, “Oh, that’s out of tune.” Or the part of your brain that says, “That’s too loud.” You have to shut off all of those voices and look for these special moments—these moments that you accept you have no control over. So much of my job is to not think—to be open to what’s there, and then use my intuition to see where it takes me.
One of my co-workers always tells me “Nostalgia is death,” because I’m a huge nostalgist. I don’t know why, I’m trying to overcome that. You seem to have a similar view point… I think I said, “Sentimentality is death.” I look at it as the difference between going on a blind date and going on a blind date when you’ve seen the girl’s picture and you know she’s really hot. There’s something kind of pre-approved about nostalgia that makes it easier to embrace it without the fear of rejection. Subcultures operate on that. People start going, “Oh do you like this weird thing? Me too!” Billy Corgan in the Gothamist
“I try to build set decorations for a film which is inside the people.”
Oliver Boberg, German Photographer
Most words have a 50% chance of being replaced by an unrelated term every 2,000-4,000 years.
“Every day, you’re overexposed to stories that have been sucked free of
delight and mystery. That’s why you have to make such strenuous efforts
to keep your world enchanted.” —Rob Brezney
“Does your imagination know what year it is? ” —Lynda Barry
“Your work doesn’t really come to life unless it’s been performed, examined, read and reread, danced, sung, eaten–and come back into people’s minds years later in a dream or on a cross town bus. You’re not there for that. That’s why you made the work.” –John Cage
“Art is sort of an experimental station in which one tries out living” – John Cage
You may find that you have been telling yourself that practicing optimism is a risk, as though, somehow, a positive attitude will invite disaster and so if you practice optimism it may increase your feelings of vulnerability. The trick is to increase your tolerance for vulnerable feelings, rather than avoid them altogether.
[…] Phillipa Perry
Odds are, if you were raised in a Western culture, you think of emotions as largely private events. you locate them within a person’s boundaries, confined within their mind and skin. When conversing about emotions, your use of singular possessive adjectives betrays this point of view. You refer to ‘my anxiety,’ ‘his anger,’ or ‘her interest.’ Following this logic, love would seem to belong to the person who feels it. Defining love as positivity resonance challenges this view. Love unfolds and reverberates between and among people – within interpersonal transactions – and thereby belong to all parties involved, and to the metaphorical connective tissue that binds them together, albeit temporarily. … More than any other positive emotion, then, love belongs not to one person, but to pairs or groups of people. It resides within connections.
Love’s second precondition is connection, true sensory and temporal connection with another living being. You no doubt try to ‘stay connected’ when physical distance keeps you and your loved ones apart. You use the phone, e-mail, and increasingly texts or Facebook, and it’s important to do so. Yet your body, sculpted by the forces of natural selection over millennia, was not designed for the abstractions of long-distance love, the XOXs and LOLs. Your body hungers for more.[…] True connection is one of love’s bedrock prerequisites, a prime reason that love is not unconditional, but instead requires a particular stance. Neither abstract nor mediated, true connection is physical and unfolds in real time. It requires sensory and temporal copresence of bodies .The main mode of sensory connection, scientists contend, is eye contact. Other forms of real-time sensory contact – through touch, voice, or mirrored body postures and gestures – no doubt connect people as well and at times can substitute for eye contact. Nevertheless, eye contact may well be the most potent trigger for connection and oneness.[…] Physical presence is key to love, to positivity resonance.” —Barbara Fredrickson, PHD
Twyla Tharp, “If you only do what you know and do it very, very well, chances are that you won’t fail. You’ll just stagnate, and your work will get less and less interesting, and that’s failure by erosion.”
The heart generates the largest electromagnetic field in the body. . . The electrical field is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the brain waves. The magnetic component of the heart’s field, which is around 100 times stronger than that produced by the brain. . . can be measured several feet away from the body.
–Rollin McCraty, Ph.D.
“Science’s job is to map our ignorance.” —David Byrne
Echoing Carl Sagan, Konnikova examines the role of intuition – a grab-bag concept embraced by some of history’s greatest scientific minds,cultural icons, and philosophers – as both a helpful directional signpost of intellectual inquiry and a dangerous blind spot:
Our intuition is shaped by context, and that context is deeply informed by the world we live in. It can thus serve as a blinder – or blind spot – of sorts. … With mindfulness, however, we can strive to find a balance between fact-checking our intuitions and remaining open-minded. We can then make our best judgments, with the information we have and no more, but with, as well, the understanding that time may change the shape and color of that information.
As Saunders says, “A writer understands his work as something that originates with him but then, with any luck, gets away from him.”
GEORGE LOIS ON INSPIRATION
On the benefits of going to the museum for creative inspiration: “If you want to do something sharp and innovative, you have to know what went on before. Museums are custodians of epiphanies, and these epiphanies enter the central nervous system and deep recesses of the mind.
“Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me. Poets are masters of us ordinary men, in knowledge of the mind, because they drink at streams which we have not yet made accessible to science.” — Freud
I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Based means being yourself. Not being scared of what people think about you. Not being afraid to do what you wanna do. Being positive. When I was younger, based was a negative term that meant like dopehead, or basehead. People used to make fun of me. They was like, “You’re based.” They’d use it as a negative. And what I did was turn that negative into a positive. I started embracing it like, “Yeah, I’m based.” I made it mine. I embedded it in my head. Based is positive.
– Lil B. What words are there for the rap game’s most unique, creative individual? Lil B is possibly the W+K OId Spice campaign of the Rap Game, fathering the inspiration of a generation of young YouTube rappers who came after him. The rapper, who recently lectured at NYU, consistently preaches the importance of positivity and remaining ‘based’. In many creative industries it’s certainly easy to become jaded or negative – a little Lil B optimism wouldn’t go astray for all of us.
What would it take to overcome the cultural pull of irony? Moving away from the ironic involves saying what you mean, meaning what you say and considering seriousness and forthrightness as expressive possibilities, despite the inherent risks. It means undertaking the cultivation of sincerity, humility and self-effacement, and demoting the frivolous and the kitschy on our collective scale of values. It might also consist of an honest self-inventory.
—NYT Christy Wampole
Furthermore, the nostalgia cycles have become so short that we even try to inject the present moment with sentimentality, for example, by using certain digital filters to “pre-wash” photos with an aura of historicity. Nostalgia needs time. One cannot accelerate meaningful remembrance.
—NYT Christy Wampole
“Nothing determines who we will become so much as those things we choose to ignore.” — Sandor McNab
“Writing is like hunting. There are brutally cold afternoons with nothing in sight, only the wind and your breaking heart. Then the moment when you bag something big. The entire process is beyond intoxicating.”
— Kate Braverman
“The way we describe our world shows how we think of our world. How we think of our world governs how we interpret our world. How we interpret our world directs how we participate in the world. How we participate in the world shapes the world.” —Robert Fripp
“It is by going down into the abyss that you recover the treasures of life,” wrote Joseph Campbell. “Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.”
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” — Carl Jung
The tension between impulsive action and contemplative thinking is a very real one, particularly in this real time, over connected world. But, says Cleese, don’t let that get in the way of giving yourself time for deeper, unconscious thought. “Now I want to explain about getting into tortoise mind. The enemies of tortoise mind are anxiety and interruptions. The moment you get anxious or interrupted you go back into hare brain. What you have to do is give yourself a place where you’re not going to be interrupted for about an hour, because it takes time for your thoughts to settle. You have to create boundaries of space and then you have to create boundaries of time. You need to give yourself the time to let these ideas come up because it deals in the confusion and images and very subtle things.”—John Cleese, Fast Company article (http://www.fastcocreate.com/1680999/4-lessons-in-creativity-from-john-cleese)
“Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” — A Man Without a Country, Kurt Vonnegut
“I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This to me is a miracle.” — “The Noodle Factory,” speech given at the dedication of the Shain Library at Connecticut College, New London –Kurt Vonnegut
“Prodigy” derives from the Latin “prodigium,” a monster that violates the natural order. NY Times
“Whoever speaks in primordial images speaks with a thousand voices; he enthralls and overpowers, while at the same time he lifts the idea he is seeking to express out of the occasional and the transitory into the realm of the ever-enduring”
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS ARE JUST ONE WAY TO CHANGE THE WORLD
Radical historian Howard Zinn: “We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic
actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when
multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Even when we
don’t “win,” there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that we have been
involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile. We need
hope. An optimist isn’t necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the
dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic.
It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty,
but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to
emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only
the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember
those times and places — and there are so many — where people have
behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the
possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some
grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and
to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is
bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
I do believe you have a wound too. I do believe it is both specific to you and common to everyone. I do believe it is the thing about you that must be hidden and protected, it is the thing that must be tap danced over five shows a day, it is the thing that won’t be interesting to other people if revealed. It is the thing that makes you weak and pathetic. It is the thing that truly, truly, truly makes loving you impossible. It is your secret, even from yourself. But it is the thing that wants to live. It is the thing from which your art, your painting, your dance, your composition, your philosophical treatise, your screenplay is born.—Charlie Kaufman, BAFTA speech
Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and the pain of it no less than the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.
What we resist persists. –Stella Cheung
“We all have a blind spot and it’s shaped exactly like us.” —Junot Diaz
A man’s mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.
–Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
“It’s all a quest for precision. It’s not for ostentation. Words are what a writer is made of. They’re your first love, your eternal love and it’s difficult. Words make life difficult, make writing difficult. Social realism is incredibly difficult to describe,” he has said. “Just finding the words to describe the ordinary ways that people behave or a gesture as simple as picking something up and looking at it is hard to do with precision and in a way that’s enjoyable for the reader, but solving these tiny little intricacies in everyday description and locking a novel together is so satisfying.” —Martin Amis
Marilynne Robinson, from 2008
“The ancients are right: the dear old human experience is a singular, difficult, shadowed, brilliant experience that does not resolve into being comfortable in the world. The valley of the shadow is part of that, and you are depriving yourself if you do not experience what humankind has experienced, including doubt and sorrow. We experience pain and difficulty as failure instead of saying, I will pass through this, everyone I have ever admired has passed through this, music has come out of this, literature has come out of it. We should think of our humanity as a privilege.”
“We see by way of what we have already seen.
We create out of our entire prior sensorium.”
“Fear is excitement without the breath.” Fritz Perls, MD, founder of Gestalt therapy
“We see with memory. My memory is different from yours, so if we are both standing in the same place we’re not quite seeing the same thing. Different individuals have different memories, therefore other elements are playing a part. Whether you have been in a place before will affect you, and how well you know it. There’s no objective vision ever – ever.” — David Hockney
“The world can be a horrible place at times, but we don’t have to participate in this, we don’t have to harden our hearts as we’re taught and told to do, in order to survive or be sexy or attractive lovers or perfect parents or interesting people. We do not have to make ourselves into mysterious gifts, waiting to be chosen or read or understood by those who will earn us, unwrap our secrets, and then what? We can be something more authentic, and speak from a different place, a different planet. ”
—Emily Rapp, Someone to Hold Me
Townes Van Zandt
“I don’t think you can ever do your best. Doing your best is a process of trying to do your best.”
“Attention to detail makes the difference between a good song and a great song. And I meticulously try to put the right sound in the right place, even sounds that you would only notice if I left them out. Sometimes I hear a melody in my head, and it seems like the first color in a painting. And then you can build the rest of the song with other added sounds. You just have to try to be with that first color, like a baby yearns to come to its parents. That’s why creating music is really like giving birth. Music is like the universe: The sounds are like the planets, the air and the light fitting together.
“When I write an arrangement, I always picture a blind person listening to the song. And I choose chords and sounds and percussion instruments which would help clarify the feel of the song to a blind person. For instance, a fat chord can conjure up a fat person, or a particular kind of color, or a particular kind of fabric or setting that I’m singing about. Also, some chords suggest a male, others a female, and some ambient sounds suggest togetherness while others suggest loneliness. But with everything I do, I try to keep that blind person in mind. And I make my musicians pay attention to that, too. Like my bassist, Sonny T., can really play a girl’s measurements on his instrument and make you see them. I love the idea of visual sounds.”