Saturday, April 29, 2006

Afterthoughts on Knowledge & Creativity

In my post on "Cycles," I stated, "Knowledge helps suppress the anxiety which holds my creativity hostage," referring to the fact that I often need to research and gather technical information before I am comfortable attacking a new method of working. The next day I was reading from Rollo May's "The Courage to Create" and ran across this thought:
The fact that talent is plentiful but passion is lacking seems to me to be a fundamental facet of the problem of creativity in many fields today, and our ways of approaching creativity by evading the encounter have played directly into this trend. We worship technique - talent - as a way of evading the anxiety of the direct encounter.
I have often suspected that my penchant for obsessive research before beginning a technically challenging piece had a lot to do with procrastination, or as May puts it, "evading the anxiety of the direct encounter." But I stand by my original premise that a little advance knowledge goes a long way toward giving me the courage to overcome my anxiety in order to make that direct encounter. Or perhaps more precisely, to ensure a more successful and less frustrating encounter.

Still no matter how many facts one amasses, there's no substitution for experience. A deeper understanding is gained in the doing, and problem solving is never as effective in theory as in action. At some point I realize I'm just prolonging the inevitable, the leap into the abyss. I guess I'm thinking all that reading will be my parachute in case the abyss is deeper than I thought.

This quotation also struck me because it is similar in tone to the criticisms being made of the art quilt movement today which often seems to be technique driven. Yet it was made in the early 1970's. Do I hear a chorus of "The more things change, the more they stay the same?"

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