For the last few days I’ve been thinking about ideas, from a philosophical point of view. (I wish I were wearing this dress by Etro while doing so.)
You see, I watched a video of author Elizabeth Gilbert at the TED conference, where she was speaking about creativity and genius. (I don’t think I’m her usual audience--I didn't read her big book, for instance, but I did appreciate some of her thoughts here on the creative process.)
Her point was that it’s too much of a burden to place creativity exclusively on the artist’s shoulders, for that can lead to doubt and insecurity and tortured thoughts. Rather, she looks to ancient Greece and Rome for their concepts of “daemons” and “geniuses”—beings who would visit the artist and collaborate with them by giving them a poem, a character, a vision. Instead of being a genius, an artist can have a genius, which would relieve pressure, said Gilbert.
Then she talked about the musician Tom Waits, who was driving on the freeway in California one day when a melody started coming to him. Without a paper, pencil, or recording device at hand, he could have grown frustrated, but instead called out to the sky and told his “genius” to return at a later time when he was able to receive its message. I think he told it to go bother Leonard Cohen.
I’ve been thinking about this conception of genius and it has completely impeded my ability to write, not because I have nothing to think about, but because this notion is all I can think about. (But don’t get me started on Virginia Woolf and that darn “angel in the house.”)
For sometimes, just when I lie down to sleep, a patterned fabric will flash in my mind. The colors are gorgeous, the pattern harmonious and elegant, and it quickly disappears. I’m not a fabric designer, but is my “genius” telling me to design fabric? I don’t jump up to sketch it, and am content for the moment to enjoy these flashes as, well, flashes.
But what a cruel genius I must have, to visit me just when I’m finally ending my day, taunting me with a vision. Or is she a benevolent genius, sending me a textile lover’s version of a lullaby?
Now that I’ve got down these thoughts, perhaps I’ll be free to think of something else.
Like how much I’m loving the lines of my Loeffler Randall cut-out shoe booties. And how I need to bring them to the cobbler immediately to get a thicker sole put on them.
They’re pure genius.