I don’t tend to do breakfast. I don’t like breakfast, much to the consternation of health and nutrition minded friends. “Think of what you’re doing to your pancreas!” Of course, breakfast occurs whenever you eat your first meal of the day, but we’re speaking here of that top-of-the-morning affair that you think of when you hear the word. Fasting brings a crystalline mental clarity that is quickly dispelled when food begins to draw blood to the stomach. Even the brief and minor overnight fast can have this effect in a mild way and I hate to give that up for the day. I like to prolong it.
Today, when others would have been consuming a breakfast, I indulged in a first-thing-out-of-bed extended phone conversation with my old friend David…in truth, more brother than friend. David is a likeminded and highly creative artist who lives across the country from me. When neither one of us is as cranky and depressed as we can tend to be we inspire each other in various ways. I came off the phone today revitalized and raring to go. It was about noon. I decided to make a breakfast of pancakes. Those health minded friends of mine would have been tucking into a nice lunch right about then.
I decided to listen once again to Thomas Moore’s audio lecture, “The Soul of Creativity,” while I whipped up the hotcakes. I have listened to this recording many times. I could recite some of it from memory, but I always get something new and fresh out of it. Like all ideas that have legs Moore’s are amplified by whatever is on my mind at the time I listen to them. Today I focused on the section having to do with the sentimentalization of creativity. He talks about the various ways that this can play out. For example, when someone falls in love with the idea of themselves as a creator/artist more than the act of creating things. Or when we get hung up on whether we “feel” creative in a given moment, beating ourselves up when we don’t. He suggests that classes on how not to be creative would be as or more useful than the umpteen classes that are offered on how to be creative.
Moore went on today to speak about another way we sentimentalize creativity by imposing the need to come up with something novel and supposedly never done before. [This apparently preordained concept of creativity has actually only been prevalent since the latter 19th century.] He suggests that taking ideas that have been explored already and presenting them in a way that is meaningful today is also a highly creative activity. This brought to mind a great book I’m reading right now. Avant Rock: Experimental Music From the Beatles to Bjork by Bill Martin, published in 2002. A more accurate subtitle would be “from Sibelius to Bjork,” because Martin delves deeply into jazz and “classical” avant-gardes as well as rock to make his profuse and profound points. He is a philosophy professor at DePaul University with a number of books to his credit. He knows how to find nuances in the ideas he examines and to communicate them effectively. One of his observations has to do with the proposition that most or all music is rooted originally in song, dance, or worship activities. He suggests that rock music experimentation over the years has connected to and been accepted by the populace because rock has clung to its roots of song and dance. Jazz and concert hall derived avant-gardes have lost their audience because they have wandered away from those roots. Rock experimenters also fit the model that Moore presents when they base their movement forward on foundations that were already established.
I find these ideas to be endlessly stimulating. Bill Martin has joined the ranks of Thomas Moore and some others in showing me things about the activities I’ve pursued intuitively for the past 40+ years.
As I mentally played with and pieced together these layers of thought regarding creativity it occurred to me to add some powdered ginger to the pancake batter and layer banana slices on the cakes as they cooked in an attempt to recreate some pancakes that a local restaurant used to serve. It worked wonderfully. I recommend trying it. Or something else that occurs to you as you build on the recipe…