Three notes on creativity
So on Saturday, I was to be found perambulating around the city, on the School of Life's 'Eureka Tour of London'.
Naturally, I can't do full justice to the breadth and the sweep of the day, but here are a couple of things that stand out.
One is that there is no one model of creativity to follow. Our walk leader Cathy ran through four approaches that you could take, all linked by where we had met, the terrace by Gordon's wine bar:
a) The 'doomed romantic / breakdown' model - as evidenced here by Rudyard Kipling, who lived above Gordon's when it was a sausage shop. He wrote his first novel 'The Light That Failed' there, a bildungsroman if ever there was one, about the woman he had been engaged too; he, alas, couldn't seem to deal with the concept that she had moved on from him, wrote the novel as revenge, and promptly had a breakdown once done.
b) The 'flaneur / moment of inspiration' model - hello Yeats and 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree', which was prompted by seeing a soda fountain on the Strand and being transported back to his youth.
c) The 'additive / keep grinding on' model - as shown by Joseph Bazalgette and his taming of London's big stink and conquering of the sewers. In one sense of course, it's a truism - building on what's gone before is sorta how civil engineering works - but one of the themes of the day was that a building or a bridge or a drain is as much an act of creativity as a sonnet.
d) The 'exaggeration / myth-making' model - as practised, supposedly, by a ticket inspector at Charing Cross underground station in the 1970s, who used to delight in telling people that the Cross outside the station was actually the spire of a long-lost cathedral on the site. Which just confirms that, as ever, lying is a pretty good way of getting to something 'true'.
Later in the day found us back at the School itself, listening to Jean-Paul Flintoff pointing out that it is a lot easier to change the world than you might think. Oh, and that, if you want to be happy:
hedonism > flow within a creative act > doing a good turn
Jean-Paul then showed us how to make our own sketch or notebooks, and in my very ramshackle effort, I tried to summarise the day. The title was inevitably:
A manifesto of sorts
2. You don't have to have a breakdown
3. Being dandy is good
4. Adding to what's gone before is better
5. Magic can be democratic
6. Context is a lot - but not everything
7. You need to leave gaps for the light to get in
8. The idea needs to find its time
9. Resolve to serve no more
10. You can change the world now
Which aren't bad as a set of maxims go.