Five years ago today, I posted some thoughts on creativity and constraints. You can read them here. Huntington Witherill wrote an eloquent dissent. It’s in a comment to the post.
Ten days ago, Brooks Jensen posted a podcast, the teaser for which was:
If creativity is a free-flowing, spontaneous activity, won’t a structure constrict the creative process? But, as Orson Wells advises us, “The enemy of art is the total lack of limitations.”
You can listen to Brooks’ podcast here. Sounds like Brooks and I work the same way: structure helps us.
Anyone have other thoughts?
Jeff Wayt says
Look at sonnets. There is a framework and structure, iambic pentameter, etc. Haiku, has its structure. So many enjoy creativity within those limits. Music has gobs of rules, yet look at how much creative product exists in that framework.
Anything with focus must have limits. It can’t map the universe on a medium. Art must have some truth abstracted and something novel. Without some truth, it is unrecognizable disorientation. Appreciation rises from relating elements to one’s own map of garnered elements in experience.
I was in the third graduating class of the High School for Performing and Visual Arts in Houston that attracted artistic prodigies in 5 fine arts. The school started in an old synagogue, and the kids and teachers had to build its stage and classrooms to fit the work. The budget was severely restricted, equipment spartan. I keep in contact with many alumni whose recollection of their experience on a shoe-string romanticized the improvisational creativity they had to have.
Some say real creativity comes from the fusion of interdisciplinary skills recombining elements in novel ways. This assumes knowledge of how those elements have been combined in the past.
It is interesting to observe that so many of the technically proficient pianists I’ve met compose very little, while many song-writers can have little musical training. The Beatles could not read sheet music. Then there are composers whose utter mastery with musical vocabulary transcended its limitations.
Knowledge itself is order, has its limits, and must be finite. Complete freedom is chaos. It’s difficult for me to enjoy white noise. Give me a signal any day.