Tag: creativity

U2, Creativity, & Christmas

It might come as a surprise that Rolling Stone has named No Line on the Horizon as Best Album of the Year, with Moment of Surrender as Best Song (which is a pretty amazing song: read about its development here). This album certainly marks a new expression of creativity for U2, and they still don’t think they have made their best album yet (good news for Joshua Tree lovers?) In a recent interview, the Edge was asked about the band’s belief that their best music as still to come. His response lends wisdom for creativity:

We all genuinely believe it. It’s not arrogance. It’s because we are still hungry. There’s no reason why we can’t do this. You think about other art forms and artists – filmmakers, painters, sculptors. It doesn’t follow that your best work is done in your late twenties, early thirties, and then it’s downhill. Unfortunately, that’s the way rock & roll has panned out. But we don’t buy that. Our only limitation is our ability to apply ourselves, to be hard-minded on our work. We push and push until we get to those special pieces of music, those lyrics. And it doesn’t arrive on call. You can’t turn it on. It needs time spent and time spent in the right frame of mind.

While I’m on the topic of U2, you might consider this powerful quote as a means of grace to stir your Christmas affections. Don’t just read it; meditate on it. Merry Christmas!

The idea that God, if there is a force of Logic and Love in the universe, that it would seek to explain itself is amazing enough. That it would seek to explain itself and describe itself by becoming a child born in straw poverty, in shit and straw…a child… I just thought: “Wow!” Just the poetry … Unknowable love, unknowable power, describes itself as the most vulnerable. There it was. I was sitting there, and it’s not that it hadn’t struck me before, but tears came streaming down my face, and I saw the genius of this, utter genius of picking a particular point in time and deciding to turn on this

And here’s a bonus, the new song “Winter” off the Brothers soundtrack. Moving.

Elizabeth Gilbert on Creativity

This is worth your time, especially if you are a creative. Gilbert, author of Eat, Love, Pray, discusses the need to rework the destinies of creatives of the past 500 years. So many successful artists enter rapid decline after their greatest life work. How can we rework that pattern in ourselves–emotional and mental downwardness after a great achievement. Gilbert suggests that we need something that creates a safe psychological distance between artist and art. She explores the daemons and geniuses of the Greco-Roman age.

What do you think? Do we need a genuius, a muse?


Creating in the Spirit of Milton

Apart from my dad’s real first name, the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the name “Milton” is one of the most enduring poets the West has ever produced (most well-known for his Paradise Lost). Stanley Fish recounts his recent experience at a John Milton symposium in London, where Milton is praised for his form and content, his art and philosophy, a rare combination. Consider the following reflection on Milton’s art:

“Milton’s poetry is good to think with. It’s a good workout. You feel really great and fit when you’ve finished. Maybe that’s what he meant by the ‘fit reader.’”

In a day when the medium often trumps the message, such good-thinking art is hard to come by. Of course, most consumers of art are, well, just that–consumers. Surely there’s nothing wrong with appreciating a photograph timely taken or a song that is musically stirring, but what goes into good art has as much, if not more, potential to shape and thrill us. Milton experts have, century after century, found themselves stirred and provoked, inspired and confronted with the beauty of his work and the depth of his reflection:

it is always demanding that its readers measure themselves against the judgments it repeatedly makes – judgments about the nature of virtue, about the proper mode of civil and domestic behavior, about the true shape of heroism..about the criteria of aesthetic excellence, about the uses of leisure, about one’s duties to man and God, about the scope and limitations of reason, about the primacy of faith, about everything.

Milton’s poetry does more than entertain; it provokes a response, invites a dialogue. Why? Could it be that he has a medium within the medium? An intangible moral, theological clay from which he fashions his words, his art? A medium within the medium of the poetry itself?

We would do well to heed Milton’s example, to produce good-thinking art, whatever the medium. To become reflective artisans that begin with some kind of ideaological “medium,” which we then push through the medium of our art, to increase aesthetic excellence.

During the symposium, the question was posed: “Who was better? Milton or Shakespeare?” The answer, of course is neither; they are different. But consider this closing observation:

And the difference is that after reading or seeing a Shakespeare play you want to sit down and discuss the glories of Shakespeare, whereas after reading a Milton poem you want to sit down and discuss the ideas and imperatives he has thrust at you.

A medium within the medium.

More on Creative Thinking

  1. Write it down. – Encourage your team to write and share their lives with others. (More blogging!)
  2. Hire smart. – Hire risk-takers. You need people that are willing to embrace change.
  3. Bring in outsiders. – Bring in outside perspective to expand your thinking. (That’s how we arrived at our live-streaming technology for multi-site.)
  4. Be flexible. Very flexible. – The same strategy doesn’t work for every situation.

See the rest of the article here (HT:MC).