Friday, January 16, 2009

Creativity and new year's prayer request/resolution

G.K. Chesterton, in Orthodoxy, and for reasons entirely different than why I'm quoting him here, describes the difference between the sane man and the insane man.

Poets are generally spoken of as unreliable; and generally there is a vague association between wreathing laurels in your hair and sticking straws in it. Facts and history utterly contradict this view.  Most of the great poets have been not only sane, but extremely business-like; and if Shakespeare ever really held horses, it was because he was much the safest man to hold them. Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason.  Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers, but creative artists very seldom.  
...The general fact is simple.  Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite.  The result is mental exhaustion, like the physical exhaustion of Mr. Holbein.  To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens.  It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.  

This excerpt has a lot of implications, but first, more about me.

I fall closer to the insane category.  I'm not super smart, like a chess player; but I do try pretty hard to figure stuff out.  Any seeming contradictions in my worldview drive me crazy. According to Chesterton, then, a corollary truth about me is that I'm not creative. And as it turns out I'm not.  Or at least I haven't been.  

I've always thought that creators were born.  I'm a music teacher, and in my mind I divide people into two categories.  My coworker Jon Holland, who has perfect pitch and composes and has music coming out of his heart and soul and everywhere else, is a creator.  The non-creators are like myself.  In the music realm at least, we just get really proficient at decoding the creator's marks but don't come up with anything of our own.

Enter the 9 national standards for music education:  my students will sing, play, improvise, compose, read, listen, evaluate, and understand music in relationship to the other arts and to history.  

I'm supposed to be helping my students create.  Maybe I should create, too...

Sometime over this Christmas break it hit me.  Maybe I could pray, and God would make me more creative! Maybe I'm not bound to a predisposed copyist existence.  

My prayer request and resolution for the year 2009 is that I would be more creative.  And I'm setting goals. I'm starting small:  a pianist friend helped me improv last week, and hopefully by blogging I can improve the mechanics of my writing.  But next year be looking for me - I'll be a novel writing, composing fiend! 

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