All posts tagged as creativity

28 May

Holy Aloneness

In Essays by poeticinterconnections / May 28, 2011 / 16 Comments

 

 

This month’s poetic interconnection is a personal one.

I’ve spent my last six months sharing a loft in an urban setting. The apartment is spacious but, being a loft, it’s one unbroken space. There is no privacy. The area is hip but, being downtown, it’s bustling. There is no quiet.

A challenging experience for a creative artist: a lack of privacy and quiet within which to create. All composition, analysis, experimentation, evolution, frustration, elation, and repetition occurring within direct eyeshot and earshot of a housemate, and always accompanied by the roar of traffic and the chatter of passersby.

I’ve answered this challenge by pressing pause on myself, my creative flow held back and pooling inside as I’ve grown more and more hungry for time alone, crisp air, and trees nearby.

Ancient Kabbalists wrote about our often unrecognized need for hitbodedut—’holy aloneness’. We live our days surrounded by other people and the bustle of commerce, our time given to practical tasks. Our spiritual need becomes easily neglected. To answer this need, Rabbis suggested retiring into nature at dusk, after our day’s work. There, alone, we can approach God, unhampered by inhibition or obligation. Our prayer can be intimate, spontaneous, and uncensored. It can be raw. We can catch the divine flow, the source of creative inspiration. We can perceive our potential—press play, roll tape, and jam.

 

 

There’s a scientific analogue here. Did you know that at quantum scales our universe behaves differently when it’s observed than when it’s left alone? When observed, subatomic entities act like classical particles, tightly packed balls of energy moving discretely from place to place. But between measurements, unobserved, quanta leave evidence of behaving more like waves. Particles loosen, smearing out into streams of potential energy. The streams stretch out infinitely across our universe.

Only when they’re left alone do subatomic particles relax and express their full potential, languid and boundless. Apparently, even our physical universe needs hitbodedut.

I’m well overdue for some.

A creative person spits out their internal experience as art. This blog post is a hard-won work: a confession, and a cry for help. Something’s gotta give.

Can you relate?

Comments welcome.

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11 Dec

Spirituality, Science, and the Creative Process 2011

In News by poeticinterconnections / December 11, 2010 / 2 Comments

 

Spirituality, Science, and the Creative Process

 

Season’s greetings! Mid-December, my endless summer of rest and renewal is finally drawing to a close… My sincere thanks to all of you who’ve kept in touch during my time away. Fully re-energized, I’m thrilled to share with you that in February 2011 I’ll be back teaching Spirituality, Science, and the Creative Process at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, CA. The course is presented by their Continuing Education program, so enrollment is open to EVERYONE!

For those of you looking for unique gift ideas this holiday season, the class might make a fantastic Christmas (or belated Chanukah) present!

Here’s a course description, new and improved since its maiden voyage last year:

Great ideas inspire enduring art. This course explores grand themes shared by spiritual philosophy and cutting-edge science, using them as source material for artistic creativity. Examining energy, duality, infinity, chaos, evolution, and actualization, students will consider how these and other spiritual and scientific themes are mirrored in their own creative process, inspiring resonant artwork in any medium. Voluntary creative prompts will challenge student artists to depict entanglement, emergence, and higher and fractal dimensions. And in-class journaling assignments will require students to reflect on their own creativity, encouraging mastery of process as well as practice.

The course runs 10 weeks, Saturday mornings, and will include and expand upon all your favorite poetic interconnections among spirituality, science, and creativity. My students last year produced amazing artwork—visual, musical, and literary—based on class sessions. And as their teacher, I was equally inspired, their comments and reflections becoming part of this year’s curriculum (an evolution happily in progress).

So… Here’s a link to enroll in the class:

http://www.otis.edu/ce,course.php?crs=539&sem=28

I’m looking forward to seeing you there! And meantime, happiest of holidays to you and yours.

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01 Oct

Endless Summer

In Essays by poeticinterconnections / October 1, 2010 / 0 Comments

For the first time since starting this blog, I’ve taken time off from writing. Summer vacation! I’ve closed my beloved books on spirituality and science, left any poetic interconnections cooking in my head to simmer and reduce, and rested.

Finally…

This post is a postcard to you, my readers and fellow wayfarers. I hope your summer brought you recreation and renewal. Mine’s not over yet, and I’m not sure when it will be! I’ll be teaching Spirituality, Science, and the Creative Process again in February at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, CA, so I know my sabbatical won’t last forever… I’m excited to get back to work this winter, and I’ll post details about the class when enrollment opens.

Between now and then, I wish you peace and thrills, calm and creativity. Sending love from my endless summer.

 

 

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17 Apr

Art, Faith, and Discovery

In Essays by poeticinterconnections / April 17, 2010 / 8 Comments

I recently found this quote by Albert Camus, author of the literary classic The Stranger: "A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened."

Camus’ sentiment is lovely, describing the creative process as a journey back to the feeling of aesthetic awakening. The idea reminds me of one of my favorite passages written by Jewish mystic Abraham Joshua Heschel, redefining faith:

In every man’s life there are moments when there is a lifting of the veil at the horizon of the known, opening a sight of the eternal… The remembrance of that experience and the loyalty to the response of that moment are the forces that sustain our faith. In this sense, faith is faithfulness, loyalty to an event, loyalty to our response.

Every world religion describes a state of original bliss from which we’ve fallen, and each promises a path to reclaim that feeling. It seems to me that Camus and Heschel are both riffing on this theme. Camus’ trek is the pursuit of art; Heschel’s path is the practice of memory.

Science offers its own variation on this theme. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN was built to crash beams of subatomic particles together at near light speeds, attempting to recreate the energy levels exhibited by our universe just after the Big Bang. At these energy levels, the four fundamental forces—gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces—may have been fused into a single, symmetric "superforce." Physicists think it was only as our universe cooled that this force’s symmetry broke, allowing the distinct forces we’ve since discovered to separate and clarify.

The symmetric state in which our universe’s forces were unified is an interesting analogue to Camus’ heart-opening images and Heschel’s "lifting of the veil". Our cosmos was newborn, energetic, and rich with potential. It’s no wonder physicists are driven to recreate the situation; the possibilities for discovery are thrilling!

 

Large Hadron Collider at CERN

 

We all have perennial experiences that shake us awake, stir us with grandeur, and change us forever. We become seekers the rest of our lives, always trying to get back to the perfection of those first revelations.

Mine was musical: "The Warmth of the Sun" by The Beach Boys. Brian Wilson’s falsetto floating above his family’s rich harmonies has influenced everything I’ve created since. I’m always trying to reproduce the lush beauty of that recording and how it made me feel, whether I’m recording music, writing prose, or designing visual art.

What was your first revelation?

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20 Mar

From Zero to Infinity

In News by poeticinterconnections / March 20, 2010 / 30 Comments

Last week I was honored and thrilled to introduce my Spirituality, Science, and the Creative Process students to two stellar visual artists from Los Angeles, CA: Victor Raphael and Clayton Spada.

Generously donating their time, Victor and Clayton came to class to show and discuss their ongoing collaborative series, "From Zero to Infinity". All these artworks juxtapose spiritual and scientific images in a beautiful, resonant way. To me, they’re poetic interconnections rendered visually.

I’m an unabashed fan.

My students were also excited by the series, encouraging me to introduce you to "From Zero to Infinity". Here are a few of the artworks:

 

Genesis

This piece is called Genesis. The scripture is from the first chapter of the Torah, detailing God’s creation of the physical world. The lines and swirls interlaced with the Hebrew text are bubble chamber tracks: images of elementary particles being created in high-speed collisions. To me, the artwork is a meditation on creation at its most fundamental, unitive level.

 

Odyssey

This piece is called Odyssey. It layers images of ancient cave paintings with equations handwritten by Albert Einstein, commenting on the evolving ways humans have communicated their conceptions about the nature of their world throughout the ages.

 

Emanations

Finally, this piece is called Emanations. It features the Japanese Goddess Quanwon, whose energy field is thought to bring health and happiness to her worshippers. Juxtaposed is an artistic depiction of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation—the sea of energy pervading our universe, left over from the Big Bang.

"From Zero to Infinity" was on display at USC’s Doheny Memorial Library this past fall. To see more prints from the series, please visit Victor’s website and/or the USC Libraries webpage for the exhibit.

And if these artworks enchant you as they’ve enchanted me, please spread the word about them! Forward this blog post to anyone you know who might be equally captivated.

My sincere thanks to Victor Raphael and Clayton Spada for their time, their art, and their vision.

Comments, of course, welcome…

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18 Feb

The Angel and the Uncarved Block

In Essays by poeticinterconnections / February 18, 2010 / 2 Comments

 

Michelangelo's angel

 

As February speeds by, I’m a few weeks into teaching my first full-length class: Spirituality, Science, and the Creative Process at Otis College of Art and Design. I’m blessed with a tight group of intelligent, engaged students, so I’m having a great time. And interweaving art and creativity into my poetic interconnections between spirituality and science is revealing itself to be an inspiring exercise.

Researching material for our first session, I found a famous quote by Michelangelo that, somehow, I’d never heard before. Explaining one of his most famous sculptures, the artist said, "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."

My mind fairly quickly derailed. I thought immediately about p’u—the Taoist ideal of the uncarved block.

In Chinese philosophy, our most natural state of being is simple and undefined. Before experiences and judgments introduce distinctions such as good/bad, right/wrong, and even me/you into our thinking, we all enter the world as blank canvases. We have no fixed mental forms and thus infinite potential for becoming. This state of being is highly desirable, as it mimics the tao—the sacred Way of the universe. So in Taoism, p’u is the goal of life.

About.com describes this ideal beautifully as "perception without prejudice".

Physics describes a similar condition, calling it symmetry. An oft-cited example of this is a pencil balanced on its tip. For the briefest of instants, the pencil has no preferred direction for falling. Its possibilities are equal, therefore symmetrical. But as soon as the pencil tips one way or the other its symmetry is broken. Infinite potential yields one actualized outcome. It’s both a triumph and a tragedy.

Physicists believe that right after the Big Bang our earliest universe was highly symmetrical: matter, light, and the fundamental forces (gravity, electromagnetism, etc.) were indistinguishable. Only with time did differentiation enter our universe, as the energy from its explosive birth calmed and cooled and light clarified from dust, matter decoupled from force.

Our universe, too, began as a blank canvas.

Michelangelo made a miracle: he actualized the potential in the marble, breaking its symmetry in an act of loving creation. A Western mystic might say he imitated God. I believe creative artists channel divinity every time they sit to work. I’m teaching this idea in class. In doing so, though, I realize I’m betraying some of my source material. Eastern spiritual traditions believe differentiated creation is illusory and a source of suffering, advocating a return to a state of unrealized potential so pure it precludes rebirth into the world.

And so an interesting question presents itself: Is God the slab of marble or the angel Michelangelo revealed inside? Is divinity the Taoist uncarved block or the forms we recognize as ourselves? Is our ideal condition perfectly symmetrical or the broken symmetry necessary for creation?

Comments welcome.

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29 Jan

Reminder: Spirituality, Science, and the Creative Process

In News by poeticinterconnections / January 29, 2010 / 3 Comments

 

Spirituality, Science, and the Creative Process

 

A reminder… My first full-length course exploring spirituality/science begins tomorrow! Spirituality, Science, and the Creative Process will be presented by the Continuing Education program at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, CA, and enrollment is still open to the public.

Here’s a course description:

Great ideas inspire enduring art. This course explores the grand themes shared by spiritual philosophy and cutting-edge science, using them as source material for artistic creativity. Examining energy, duality, infinity, chaos, evolution, and actualization, students write reflective journals each week about how these and other spiritual and scientific themes can be applied to their creative process, inspiring resonant artwork in any medium. Special presentations by artist Marcie Kaufman highlight the work of visual artists inspired by both spirituality and science, and a hands-on workshop mid-course guides students in enacting and illustrating some of the grand themes discussed in class.

The course runs 10 weeks, Saturday mornings, starting tomorrow, and will include and expand upon all your favorite poetic interconnections between spirituality and science. And Marcie Kaufman, my co-conspirator for the term, is brilliant and engaging, and her mid-course workshop is sure to be deep, enlightening fun.

Here’s a link to enroll in the class:

http://www.otis.edu/ce,course.php?crs=539&sem=25

Looking forward to seeing you there!

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23 Nov

Spirituality, Science, and the Creative Process

In News by poeticinterconnections / November 23, 2009 / 4 Comments

 

Spirituality, Science, and the Creative Process

 

I’m thrilled to share with you that starting in January 2010, I’ll be teaching a course in Los Angeles, CA called Spirituality, Science, and the Creative Process. The course will be presented by the Continuing Education program at Otis College of Art and Design, and enrollment is open to the public!

Here’s a description of the course:

Great ideas inspire enduring art. This course explores the grand themes shared by spiritual philosophy and cutting-edge science, using them as source material for artistic creativity. Examining energy, duality, infinity, chaos, evolution, and actualization, students write reflective journals each week about how these and other spiritual and scientific themes can be applied to their creative process, inspiring resonant artwork in any medium. Special presentations by artist Marcie Kaufman highlight the work of visual artists inspired by both spirituality and science, and a hands-on workshop mid-course guides students in enacting and illustrating some of the grand themes discussed in class.

The course runs 10 weeks, Saturday mornings, and will include and expand upon all your favorite poetic interconnections between spirituality and science. And Marcie Kaufman, my co-conspirator for the term, is brilliant and engaging, and her mid-course workshop is sure to be deep, enlightening fun.

Here’s a link to enroll in the class:

http://www.otis.edu/ce,course.php?crs=539&sem=25

Looking forward to seeing you there!

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