“Song-weaving Goddess, speak the memory
Of that man: the waymaker of words and deeds,
The wanderer, harrowed through the world and the years,
After sacking the sacred stronghold of Troy.”
Homer. The Odyssey. Translation by A Z Foreman.
It’s hard not to think fondly of an age that believed creativity emanated from nine beautiful women, all of whom could be charmed into putting out for a few kind words and libations of milk, honey and water. Given that projects completed under their guidance stand tall among the most influential and admired artworks of any place or time, we may describe these ladies as good bang for the oblation.
In the successive deicides of latter days, it became customary for the victor to shoulder the burden of office surrendered by the vanquished, on the understanding that policy can change. Meteorology declared the cause of thunderbolts to be atmospheric pressures, rather than human sin, and suspended the necessity for all weather-appeasing sacrifices until the emergence of climate change. Most godly portfolios were picked up by the human manifestations of medicine, economics and politics, but creativity remains mysteriously administered from behind a closed door, left to its own devices on account of its extraordinary output and the inability of pretenders to the task.
Of course, there are all sorts of people and disciplines devoted to identifying and systemising creativity, but I can assure you that for all the diverting books and theories, the only thing anyone has managed to come up with is a subtle variation of ‘it sometimes emerges from long hours spent trying hard.’ This conclusion is at once accurate, incomplete and extraordinarily silly; analogous to stating that you can harness fire by rushing to the termination of a flash of lightning, or by rubbing two sticks.
The ‘hard work’ motto cunningly manages to both answer and avoid the questions ‘what is creativity’ and ‘where does it come from?’ The word ‘inspiration’ suggests the ingestion of something external, while ‘expression’ hints at something coughed up from within. Just like breathing, or our personalities, I assume creativity is a combination of both, and so do many people, but that doesn’t leave us any closer to launching the equivalent of a Zippo.
So those of us seeking to manifest creativity on this earthly plane are left with exhortations to work harder and longer. Personally I enjoy feeling the crack of the whip, be it from an expectant client or employer or a contracted deadline. I have in my voluntary servitude been known to easily mow through fourteen hour days denying myself the pleasures of lunch and the necessities of bathroom breaks. This however, is the systemisation of productivity, and productivity is is a party to which creativity, when invited, may or may not decide to attend.
After more serious deliberation than you might imagine, I have settled on a version of Pascal’s wager. I figure it can’t hurt, and may prove quite enjoyable, to wander down to Central Park and find a pleasant spot on which to make a puddle of milk, honey and water while invoking the names Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania, and, just to be sure, to offer my respects to the three original muses Aoide, Melete and Mneme: song, practice and memory.
“What is wise to know/ is the gods by their names…
It pays to let ‘em know you know who they are.”
 Due to the sex and number of gods I’m talking about I’ve had to really butcher and amputate the last part of this quote from the beautiful poem/song Cape Turnagain feat. Sam Hunt by The Warratahs. If you’d like to make me feel better you could listen to it properly by yourself.
PROFIT & DELIGHT
What I'm thinking about what I'm doing. This blog aspires to a more profound definition of 'profit' and the bog-standard sense of 'delight'.
The tower beside my bed that I seriously intend to demolish. (Feb 2016)
Me & Robert McKee
by Greg McGee
Every Brilliant Thing
by Duncan MacMillan