Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Creative Process

A cool dump find! The Creative Process edited by Brewster Ghiselin is a 1952 reprint of a book originally published in hardcover by the University of California Press. In this fascinating symposium, thirty-eight of the world's outstanding men and women reveal how they actually begin and complete creative work in fields such as art, literature, and science.

In a chapter titled "Inspiration To Order" by Max Ernst, I was interested to read the following:
What is the mechanism of Collage? I think I would say that it amounts to the exploration of the chance meeting on a non-suitable plane of two mutually distant realities (a paraphrase and generalization of the well-known quotation from Lautreamont 'Beautiful as the chance meeting upon a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella') or, more simply, the cultivation of systematic moving out of place on the lines of Andre Breton's theory: Super-reality must in any case be the function of our will to put everything completely out of place (naturally one could go so far as to put a hand out of place by isolating it from an arm, then the hand thereby gains, as a hand) and, what is more, when we speak of putting things out of place we are not thinking only of space.

A complete, real thing, with a simple function apparently fixed once and for all (an umbrella), coming suddenly into the presence of another real thing, very different and no less incongruous (a sewing machine) in surroundings where both must feel out of place (on a dissecting table), escapes by this very fact from its simple function and its own identity; through a new realtionship its false absolute will be transformed into a different absolute, at once true and poetic: the umbrella and the sewing machine will make love. The mechanism of the process seems to me to be laid bare by this very simple example. Complete transmutation followed by a pure act such as the act of love must necessarily occur every time the given facts make conditions favorable: the pairing of two realities which apparently connot be paired on a plane apparently not suited to them. Speaking of the collage process in 1920 Breton wrote: "It is the marvellous capacity to grasp two mutually distant realities without going beyond the field of our experience and to draw a spark from their juxtaposition; to bring within reach of our senses abstract forms capable of the same intensity and enhancement as any others; and, depriving us of any system of reference, to set us at odds with our own memories. "
I also enjoyed the chapter titled "Making Pictures" by D.H. Lawrence. The opening paragraph reads:
One has to eat one's own words. I remember I used to assert, perhaps I even wrote it: Everything that can possibly be painted has been painted, every brush-stroke that can possibly be laid on canvas has been laid on. The visual arts are at a dead end. Then suddenly, at the age of forty, I begin painting myself and am fascinated.

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