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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Where I Draw Creativity From

Tanya has some keen remarks about creative energy. Scholarship is a creative enterprise, it calls into existence ideas that never existed before, or at least new configurations of ideas. (I don't mean, here, scholarship that tries too hard to be "creative." Or that thinks of creativity in terms of over-clever gimmicks. That rarely works.)

So then I asked myself, where do I draw my creativity from?

1. In the first place, from primary texts of literature that I have close at hand. I want my literary criticism to be up to the level of those works themselves, or at least to be creatively engaged with them. The creative energy should flow from the poetry itself into the criticism of poetry.

2. Secondly, from the practice of memorizing and reciting texts. This allows poetry to flow through me as I speak. I become a kind of medium.

3. Music.

4. Art.

5. Nature.

6. Exercise and meditation.

7. Smart friends with whom I can talk about my research interests. The company of people who esteem me.

8. The practice of writing everyday (or almost), which allows the creativity to happen in a confined space and time.

I don't tend to derive creative energy from other people's scholarship. It could happen, but often reading academic writing drains me of energy rather than inspiring me. I still have to do it. I don't derive a lot of energy from teaching, though I enjoy it. Once again, that tends to drain me.

I think if you can figure out what gives you energy and what tends to diminish it, for you personally, you will be able to figure out what you need to do to continue to harness that creative energy.


Tanya Golash-Boza said...

Have you heard of the "artist date"? Your post reminds me of that, especially of the importance of being inspired by works of art in order to find our own creativity.

Perhaps one day this week I will take a break from the rat race and make it over to Spencer Art Museum on campus

Jonathan said...

I haven't heard of that, but it sounds like a great idea.