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來自全球頂尖大學的開放式課程,現在由世界各國的數千名義工志工為您翻譯成中文。請免費享用!
課程來源:TED
     
Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity
Elizabeth Gilbert 談涵養創意
 
 
講者:Elizabeth Gilbert
2009年2月演講,2009年2月在TED2009上線
 
 
翻譯:                劉契良
編輯:                洪曉慧
簡繁轉換:            陳盈
後制:                劉契良
字幕影片後制:        謝旻均
 
 
 
關於這場演講
Elizabeth Gilbert 思考我們期待藝術家或天才解答的不可能性,並分享顛覆傳統的概念,即不讓少見「個體」獨攬天才名號,其實我們所有人都「擁有」成為天才的資質,這是一場好玩、親身體驗過且令人感動的神奇演講。
 
關於 Elizabeth Gilbert
身為《飲食、祈禱、愛》的作者,Elizabeth Gilbert 一直都在努力思索一些大哉問,她現在熱衷的題目是──天才,我們如何將其摧毀。
 
 
為何要聽她演講:
Elizabeth Gilbert 在面臨中年前期危機時,做了一項我們大家私底下都夢寐以求的事──出走一年,她走遍義大利、印度與印尼,結果造就出超級熱賣且深受讀者喜愛的名著《飲食、祈禱、愛》,內容是關於她離家期間的自我發現之旅。
 
長期深耕於雜誌寫作,她除了為《Spin》及《GQ》撰寫音樂與政治文章,同時也是一位小說家及短篇作家,著作包括短篇集《Pilgrims》、小說《Stern Men》(內容書寫緬因州的龍蝦漁夫)及一本關於被譽為最後一位正港美國人的樵夫 Eustace Conway 的傳記,她的作品曾改拍成一部電影(《Coyote Ugly》,內容是根據發表於雜誌作品,關於她自己在著名粗俗酒吧工作的回憶錄改編),現在《飲食、祈禱、愛》也可能被搬上大螢幕,茱莉亞‧羅伯茲將飾演Gilbert一角,出走一年的代價還不賴!
 
Gilbert 同時還在紐澤西州 Frenchtown 經營一家進口商品店「Two Buttons」。
 
「Gilbert 精準掌握其才氣煥發的散文,她無人能敵、幽默、風趣、勇敢且充滿智慧」。 
~Booklist
 
 
Elizabeth Gilbert 的英語網上資料
 
 
Authors@Google:Elizabeth Gilbert

 
[TED科技娛樂設計]
已有中譯字幕的TED影片目錄(繁體)(簡體)。請注意繁簡目錄是不一樣的。
 
「翻譯編輯:myoops.org
我是作家,寫作是我的專業,但不只是如此,寫作也是我畢生的摯愛與熱衷,我想這永遠也不會改變,但最近發生了一些挺奇特的事,不僅影響了我的生活,也影響了整個工作,使我必需要重新調整與工作間整體的關係,因為我最近寫了一本名為《飲食、祈禱、愛》的回憶錄,這和我之前寫過的書完全不同,它因某種原因而誕生,並變成一本熱賣的國際級暢銷書,結果是無論現在我去到何處,人們都認為我玩完了,真的玩完了,沒戲唱了!他們會靠上來並擔心地說:「妳不怕嗎?妳不怕永遠都無法再自我超越嗎?妳不怕一輩子都得埋首寫作,但卻可能永遠無法再寫出一本有那麼多人關心的暢銷書?如果再也沒辦法做到了呢」?那算是一種安慰吧,但更有甚者,我依稀記得二十年前,當我還是個青少年時,第一次告訴別人,我想成為一位作家,大家也都表現出這類似的恐懼反應,人們總是說:「妳不怕自己永遠不會成功嗎?妳不怕自己會因為被拒絕的羞辱而一蹶不振嗎?妳不怕一輩子都得爬格子,到頭來卻一事無成?妳不怕人生被埋葬在破碎的夢想中,最後剩下的只有你嘴中充滿失敗的痛苦灰燼」?(笑聲)
 
 
諸如此類的話語,我對所有問題的簡答,總是「我很怕」,沒錯,我擔心上述所有的假設,到現在都還是如此,而且我還擔心其他很多,人們無法猜想到的東西,像是海草及其他可怕的東西,但是談到寫作,我最近便開始思考及質疑「為什麼」?我想問的是「一切合理嗎」?邏輯上是否就一定是要期待任何人都對從事自已與生俱來的天賦職志感到恐懼?尤其是高創意性的冒險型工作常背負莫須有的罪名,那似乎也讓我們極度擔憂彼此的心理健康狀況,這是一種其他工作不會遇到的歷程,舉例而言,我爸是一名化學工程師,而在他的四十年化學工程生涯中,我不記得,曾有任何人問過他是否對自己身為一名化學工程師而感到不安,從來沒有人會問說:那個做化學工程的傢伙John,他混得怎樣?從沒有人這麼問過,老實說,化學工程師的圈子,幾世紀以來,從來沒有背負過酗酒壓抑狂的盛名(笑聲),而我們作家圈卻好像總是扛著這個光環,而且不只是作家,還包括所有創意型的工作者,似乎都被認為心理狀態嚴重不穩定,您需要做的就是看看十分無情的死亡數字,單單20世紀,就有許多真正偉大的創意心靈殞落,且常是自尋了斷,另外那些沒有自殺的人,似乎也常是鬱志難伸,Norman Mailer 在死前的最後受訪中表示:「我書中的每一位人物都促使我逐漸邁向死亡」,那是對你一生事業非比尋常的聲明方式,但是,當聽到有人這麼說時,我們卻連眼睛都不會眨一下,因為我們長久以來一直聽到這類的言詞,所以好像已經完全內化並接受了創意與磨難天生是不可分的這個論調,對於藝術而言,這終究會演變成令人苦不堪言,所以我今天要問大家的問題是,你們對於這樣的成規難道都沒有意見嗎?你們對這種看法滿意嗎?因為就算是在仔細咀嚼之後,我仍然對於這樣的假設感到不舒服,我覺得那很可憎,而且很危險,我可不希望那種想法延續到下一個世紀,所以,我們最好開始鼓勵那些富創意的心靈勇敢地活下去,我最瞭解自己的狀況,如果我讓自己陷入上述假設幽徑將非常危險,特別是以我目前的工作展望而言,也就是說,看看我,我還很年輕,約莫40歲,我可能還有40年的時間要過,最有可能的情況是,我從此刻開始所寫的任何作品都要接受全世界的審視,因為我寫過一本莫名其妙就熱賣的書,我應該很直率地說,因為你我現在就好像是朋友一般,我覺得我的人生巔峰很可能已經過去了,噢,天啊,我在想什麼!這種想法是會使人在早上九點就開始猛灌琴酒,我可不想變成那樣!(笑聲)
 
 
我寧願繼續做我熱愛的寫作,但問題是該怎麼做呢?幾經熟慮,為了寫作我現在必需要做的是,我必需建立一些保護性的心理建設,我必需要找到一些保持安全距離的方式,就在寫作的我與很自然產生焦慮的我之間,即對寫作呈現方式不確性的反應我必須要有所動作,去年我一路在找尋不同的可行模式,包括參考不同時代的史證及其他的社會團體,試圖找出較好、較理性的概念,幫助創意型的人管理其天生的創意情緒危機,這樣的找尋引領我進入古希臘與古羅馬的世界,請繼續聽下去,因為這和我所講的主題有關,在古希臘與古羅馬時代,當時的人們不相信創意是人類與生俱來的,人們相信創意是一種神授的伴靈,從遙遠未知的源頭附隨到人類的身旁,原因一樣遙遠而未知,希臘人將這種神授的創意伴靈尊稱為「守護神」,著名的蘇格拉底相信他擁有一位守護神與他遠距對談智慧,羅馬人也有相同的概念,但他們將這種無形的創意精靈稱為天才,這樣很棒,因為羅馬人實際上不認為天才是特別聰明的個體,他們認為天才只是一種具有魔力的神性存在,生活在一位藝術家畫室的牆中,就像家庭小精靈多比,然後在無形中協助這位藝術家完成作品,並會把完成的作品改頭換面一番,多麼巧妙啊,我所謂的距離就像這樣,一道心理建設,保護您免受作品結果的影響,所以大家都知道這道理運作的方式,古代的藝術家也因此不受一些事情的困擾,諸如太過於自戀等,當你的作品很突出,你也不能盡攬功勞,因為每個人都知道,這是因為無形精靈的幫忙,而如果你的作品不受歡迎,那也不完全是你的錯,大家都知道那是你身旁的天才無能,這便是西方世界長久以來對創意的看法,可是之後到了文藝復興時期,一切改觀,我們把自己放入了一個大框架,即將個人置於宇宙的中心,凌駕於眾神與神話之上,屏除所有神秘生物的神性指引,這也是理性人本主義的開端,人們開始相信創意完全來自個體本身,史上頭一遭,我們開始聽到有人將某位藝術家比喻為天才,而不是擁有一位天才,我必需直言,這是一項天大的錯誤,我認為單單讓一個人相信他/她像是個管道像是泉源、本質、或源頭,能產生所有神聖的創造性的、未知的、永恆的奧秘是將太多的責任強加在單一個脆弱的人類心靈上,就像強要某人吞下太陽一樣,這完全讓自我意識扭曲變形,而且創造出對這些無法掌控之物表現的期待,而我認為這種壓力,在過去500年來不斷地在扼殺我們的藝術家,如果這是事實,我認為錯不了,新的問題就是現在要怎麼辦?我們是否可以有不同的作為?也許尋求更多古代理解方式的協助,釐清人類與創意之謎間的關係,也許不需要,也許我們無法抹去500年來的理性人本思維,僅僅在一場18分鐘的演講中,也許在座有人會提出十分合理的科學質疑,不相信會有精靈追隨在人類身旁,擠出神奇果液到他們的作品上,我也不可能讓你們都跟著我這麼想,但我仍要提出一個問題,「為什麼不試試看」?為何不這麼想想看?
 
 
如此一來,便能讓很多我所聽聞過的事合理化,諸如解釋徹底令人瘋狂且反覆無常的創意過程,這種過程是任何試圖進行某些計劃的人,基本上,也就是在場的每一個人,都知道並不總是有著理性運作的過程,事實上,有時你還會覺得十足的超乎尋常,我最近巧遇傑出的美國詩人Ruth Stone,她現在已經90多歲了,但她一輩子都是詩人,她告訴我她在維吉尼亞州鄉下的成長歲月,她說,她在下田工作時,會感覺並聽到詩的聲音從田野傳到她的耳際,那聲音就像一連串空中的雷鳴,以高速從田野傳到她的耳邊,當她感覺到時,雙腳下就好像有地震一般,她明瞭自己當時只有一件事要做,那就是如她所言:「死命的跑」,她會死命的跑回家裡,因為她被那首詩追著跑,當時最重要的是她必需要馬上拿到紙筆,而且速度要夠快,才能在詩感來襲時將其收存下來並在紙上化為文字,很多時候,她的速度不夠快,但她還是不停地跑、跑、跑,雖然跑不到家,詩感又是疾衝即逝,可是她表示,詩感會持續在田野中迴盪,用她的話來說,「找尋另一位詩人」,這一直不斷的發生,以下這一段我永遠忘不了,她說有時候她幾乎要錯過詩感了,但她仍快跑進入屋內找紙,而那首詩正好流貫過她的身體,她抓起鉛筆揮桿疾書,她形容說自己是用另一隻手將詩感抓住,抓住這首詩的尾巴,之後再把它倒回她的身體中,並謄錄到紙上,這樣那首詩就會完美無缺的躍然紙上,但當然是倒著寫,從最後一個字寫到第一個字(笑聲),當我聽到這兒時,我只覺得太神奇了,因為那正是我的創作過程(笑聲),當然那不全然是我的寫照,因為我並非管道,我比較像隻騾子,以我工作的方式來看的話,我每天定時起床,辛勤工作且笨拙地堆砌我的作品,所以,就算像我這般頑固,仍會定期經歷這種奇妙體驗,但我能想像你們大部份的人也是如此,即使我曾得到一個靈感寫出一部作品,老實說 我並不能真的確定,那到底是什麼,我們又該如何在與其產生關聯的同時不至於失去我們自己的心智,甚至讓我們實際上保持清醒。
 
 
我收集到的當代最佳實例是音樂家Tom Waits,我在幾年前的一次雜誌採訪任務中訪問了他,我們剛好談到這件事,眾所皆知,Tom大部分的人生根本就是當代受難現代藝術家的代名詞,他不斷試圖控制、管理及主導這種無法控制的創意衝動,而且那已全盤內化,但他在年歲增長之後變得較為冷靜,他告訴我說,這一天他開車上了洛杉磯的高速公路,接著發生了讓他完全改變的事,他在加速時,突然間,他聽到一股微弱、片斷的樂音,如同往常獲得靈感般流進他的腦海中,難以捉摸卻撩人心扉,他想要得到它,因為旋律優美且是他一直夢寐以求的,但他卻無技可施,他車上沒紙也沒筆,連錄音機也沒有,所以,他又開始感受到舊有的焦慮油然而生,就像「我要失去它了,且將永世受到這首曲子幽魅般的糾纏,我不夠好,我再也做不出這麼好的曲子」,可是這次他決定不再慌張,他停了下來,他讓這整個心理程序停止,並做了一個很新奇的動作,他抬頭望著天空並說:「對不起,您沒看到我正在開車嗎」?(笑聲)「我現在看起來像是可以寫歌嗎?如果您真的存在,就等個好一點的時機再來,我會好生款待您,不然,今天先去煩其他人,去煩Leonard Cohen吧」!之後,他的工作程序完全改變,這無關作品,他的作品仍然常是很黑暗,但是在這個過程中環繞他的沉重焦慮,在他抓住這個靈感時被釋放了,他的靈感只不過是造成麻煩,釋放它只不過是讓它回到原來的地方,他也瞭解到過程不一定要內化或苦惱,反而可以是獨特、奇妙與奇異的綜合體,就像是Tom與這種奇怪外物的對話,不完全只有Tom自己,所以當我聽到這個故事時,它確實稍微地改變了我做事的方法,而且救了我一次,這個想法在我書寫《飲食、祈禱、愛》時救了我,因為我掉入一個絕望的死穴,就是我們在拼命工作卻苦無結果時的感受,那常令人開始感到大難臨頭,像這將是有史以來最糟糕的一本書,不只糟,而且還是最爛的一本,我開始覺得我應該放棄這個計劃,可是我想到Tom對著空中說話的那一幕,於是我也試了,我抬起埋在手稿裡的臉,然後對著屋內的一個角落說出了我的感覺,我說:「聽著,好傢伙,你和我都知道如果這本書不夠精彩,那並非完全是我的錯,因為您有看到我已將所有的心血放進來,彈盡力竭了,所以,如果您想要讓作品更好,現在就現身做您該做的事,好吧,如果您真的不肯做事,您知道它會完蛋,而我會繼續寫下去,因為那是我的工作,之後我會對今天的工作感到滿意,因為我有盡力完成份內的工作了」(笑聲),因為(掌聲)。
 
 
以下再舉一例,幾個世紀以前在北非的沙漠中,人們常聚集起來跳月光舞,伴隨著神聖舞步與樂音,時間持續數個小時之久,直至拂曉,場面總是壯麗,因為舞者皆經專業訓練,看起來完美無瑕,但在偶爾且不常見的情況下,會發生一些神奇的事情,某一位表演者會有超乎尋常的表現,我清楚你們知道我所言何物,因為你們必然都在人生的某個階段見過這類的表演,那一剎那就像是時間靜止了,舞者彷彿以某種形式穿越某種入口,他也沒有做任何不同於其他1000個夜晚所做的事,但這次所有的事都經過重新調配,突然之間,他看起來不再僅是人類,他由內、由下開始發光,最後整個人發出神性的火光,在當時,這種事一發生,人們心裡有數,他們會開始呼喊其名,雙手交握並開始吟誦,「阿拉、阿拉、阿拉、上帝、上帝、上帝」,這就是神,有一個有趣的歷史註腳是,當摩爾人入侵西班牙南部時,他們也帶入了這項習俗,只是發音在數個世紀的轉變之後,從「阿拉、阿拉、阿拉」,改成「歐雷、歐雷、歐雷」,這樣的呼喊在鬥牛及跳佛朗明哥舞時都還聽得到,在西班牙,每當有表演者做出了不可思議和魔術般的表演時,「阿拉、歐雷、歐雷、阿拉、太壯觀了、BRAVO」等賀采聲便四起,令人百思不解,但這是神蹟顯現,這是很棒的,因為我們需要這些,但微妙的部份是隔天早上,當舞者醒來,發現這是星期二,早上11點,而自己已不再顯現神蹟,而只是一具膝蓋有問題的年邁凡軀,他也許永遠再也無法重回昨日的人生高峰,不再有人會在他旋轉時呼喊神號,這時他要如何面對餘生?這實在很難,這是創意生活中最難克服的痛苦調適,但也許不一定得如此滿心苦惱,如果你能在一開始即相信,你存在的最特別之處來自你的內心深處,你也可以相信這些特別之處只是暫時,從某個無法想像的來源,借給你生命中某個精選的部份,當你的任務結束時,它就會移到下一個人身上,如果我們都這麼想的話,每一件事情都將改變,這是我開始思考的原因,更是過去幾個月來我一直在思索的問題,因為我正忙著準備下一本書的出版,隨之而來危險的、超乎預期的可能性,將緊跟在我莫名的成功之後,我必須也一直在做的是不斷地告訴自己,尤其是當我心理上完全崩潰時,就是不要害怕,不要被嚇倒,做好本份工作,無論如何,持續做好本份工作,如果你的工作是跳舞就好好跳,如果神靈或怪異的天才指派工作給您,下定決心讓神蹟,短暫顯現,就是一秒也好,藉由你的努力,大喊:「歐雷」!如果沒有天才幫忙,仍然要繼續跳舞,然後同樣對自己大喊:「歐雷」!我相信這點且覺得我們必需傳授這點,對自己大喊:「歐雷」!只為我們身為人的愛與堅持,不斷地追夢築夢,謝謝(掌聲)。
 
謝謝。
(掌聲)
 
June Cohen:「歐雷」!
 
(掌聲)
 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

About this talk

Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses -- and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius. It's a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.

About Elizabeth Gilbert

The author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert has thought long and hard about some large topics. Her next fascination: genius, and how we ruin it. Full bio and more links

Transcript

I am a writer. Writing books is my profession but it's more than that, of course. It is also my great lifelong love and fascination. And I don't expect that that's ever going to change. But, that said, something kind of peculiar has happened recently in my life and in my career, which has caused me to have to recalibrate my whole relationship with this work. And the peculiar thing is that I recently wrote this book, this memoir called "Eat, Pray, Love" which, decidedly unlike any of my previous books, went out in the world for some reason, and became this big, mega-sensation, international bestseller thing. The result of which is that everywhere I go now, people treat me like I'm doomed. Seriously -- doomed, doomed! Like, they come up to me now, all worried, and they say, "Aren't you afraid -- aren't you afraid you're never going to be able to top that? Aren't you afraid you're going to keep writing for your whole life and you're never again going to create a book that anybody in the world cares about at all, ever again?"

So that's reassuring, you know. But it would be worse, except for that I happen to remember that over 20 years ago, when I first started telling people -- when I was a teenager -- that I wanted to be a writer, I was met with this same kind of, sort of fear-based reaction. And people would say, "Aren't you afraid you're never going to have any success? Aren't you afraid the humiliation of rejection will kill you? Aren't you afraid that you're going to work your whole life at this craft and nothing's ever going to come of it and you're going to die on a scrap heap of broken dreams with your mouth filled with bitter ash of failure?" (Laughter) Like that, you know.

The answer -- the short answer to all those questions is, "Yes." Yes, I'm afraid of all those things. And I always have been. And I'm afraid of many many more things besides that people can't even guess at. Like seaweed, and other things that are scary. But, when it comes to writing the thing that I've been sort of thinking about lately, and wondering about lately, is why? You know, is it rational? Is it logical that anybody should be expected to be afraid of the work that they feel they were put on this Earth to do. You know, and what is it specifically about creative ventures that seems to make us really nervous about each other's mental health in a way that other careers kind of don't do, you know? Like my dad, for example, was a chemical engineer and I don't recall once in his 40 years of chemical engineering anybody asking him if he was afraid to be a chemical engineer, you know? It didn't -- that chemical engineering block John, how's it going? It just didn't come up like that, you know? But to be fair, chemical engineers as a group haven't really earned a reputation over the centuries for being alcoholic manic-depressives. (Laughter)

We writers, we kind of do have that reputation, and not just writers, but creative people across all genres, it seems, have this reputation for being enormously mentally unstable. And all you have to do is look at the very grim death count in the 20th century alone, of really magnificent creative minds who died young and often at their own hands, you know? And even the ones who didn't literally commit suicide seem to be really undone by their gifts, you know. Norman Mailer, just before he died, last interview, he said "Every one of my books has killed me a little more." An extraordinary statement to make about your life's work, you know. But we don't even blink when we hear somebody say this because we've heard that kind of stuff for so long and somehow we've completely internalized and accepted collectively this notion that creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked and that artistry, in the end, will always ultimately lead to anguish.

And the question that I want to ask everybody here today is are you guys all cool with that idea? Are you comfortable with that -- because you look at it even from an inch away and, you know -- I'm not at all comfortable with that assumption. I think it's odious. And I also think it's dangerous, and I don't want to see it perpetuated into the next century. I think it's better if we encourage our great creative minds to live.

And I definitely know that, in my case -- in my situation -- it would be very dangerous for me to start sort of leaking down that dark path of assumption, particularly given the circumstance that I'm in right now in my career. Which is -- you know, like check it out, I'm pretty young, I'm only about 40 years old. I still have maybe another four decades of work left in me. And it's exceedingly likely that anything I write from this point forward is going to be judged by the world as the work that came after the freakish success of my last book, right? I should just put it bluntly, because we're all sort of friends here now -- it's exceedingly likely that my greatest success is behind me. Oh, so Jesus, what a thought! You know that's the kind of thought that could lead a person to start drinking gin at nine o'clock in the morning, and I don't want to go there. (Laughter) I would prefer to keep doing this work that I love.

And so, the question becomes, how? And so, it seems to me, upon a lot of reflection, that the way that I have to work now, in order to continue writing, is that I have to create some sort of protective psychological construct, right? I have to, sort of find some way to have a safe distance between me, as I am writing, and my very natural anxiety about what the reaction to that writing is going to be, from now on. And, as I've been looking over the last year for models for how to do that I've been sort of looking across time, and I've been trying to find other societies to see if they might have had better and saner ideas than we have about how to help creative people, sort of manage the inherent emotional risks of creativity.

And that search has led me to ancient Greece and ancient Rome. So stay with me, because it does circle around and back. But, ancient Greece and ancient Rome -- people did not happen to believe that creativity came from human beings back then, OK? People believed that creativity was this divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source, for distant and unknowable reasons. The Greeks famously called these divine attendant spirits of creativity "daemons." Socrates, famously, believed that he had a daemon who spoke wisdom to him from afar. The Romans had the same idea, but they called that sort of disembodied creative spirit a genius. Which is great, because the Romans did not actually think that a genius was a particularly clever individual. They believed that a genius was this, sort of magical divine entity, who was believed to literally live in the walls of an artist's studio, kind of like Dobby the house elf, and who would come out and sort of invisibly assist the artist with their work and would shape the outcome of that work.

So brilliant -- there it is, right there that distance that I'm talking about -- that psychological construct to protect you from the results of your work. And everyone knew that this is how it functioned, right? So the ancient artist was protected from certain things, like, for example, too much narcissism, right? If your work was brilliant you couldn't take all the credit for it, everybody knew that you had this disembodied genius who had helped you. If your work bombed, not entirely your fault, you know? Everyone knew your genius was kind of lame. And this is how people thought about creativity in the West for a really long time.

And then the Renaissance came and everything changed, and we had this big idea, and the big idea was let's put the individual human being at the center of the universe above all gods and mysteries, and there's no more room for mystical creatures who take dictation from the divine. And it's the beginning of rational humanism, and people started to believe that creativity came completely from the self of the individual. And for the first time in history, you start to hear people referring to this or that artist as being a genius rather than having a genius.

And I got to tell you, I think that was a huge error. You know, I think that allowing somebody, one mere person to believe that he or she is like, the vessel you know, like the font and the essence and the source of all divine, creative, unknowable, eternal mystery is just a smidge too much responsibility to put on one fragile, human psyche. It's like asking somebody to swallow the sun. It just completely warps and distorts egos, and it creates all these unmanageable expectations about performance. And I think the pressure of that has been killing off our artists for the last 500 years.

And, if this is true, and I think it is true, the question becomes, what now? Can we do this differently? Maybe go back to some more ancient understanding about the relationship between humans and the creative mystery. Maybe not. Maybe we can't just erase 500 years of rational humanistic thought in one 18 minute speech. And there's probably people in this audience who would raise really legitimate scientific suspicions about the notion of, basically fairies who follow people around rubbing fairy juice on their projects and stuff. I'm not, probably, going to bring you all along with me on this.

But the question that I kind of want to pose is -- you know, why not? Why not think about it this way? Because it makes as much sense as anything else I have ever heard in terms of explaining the utter maddening capriciousness of the creative process. A process which, as anybody who has ever tried to make something -- which is to say basically, everyone here --- knows does not always behave rationally. And, in fact, can sometimes feel downright paranormal.

I had this encounter recently where I met the extraordinary American poet Ruth Stone, who's now in her 90s, but she's been a poet her entire life and she told me that when she was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out working in the fields, and she said she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. And she said it was like a thunderous train of air. And it would come barreling down at her over the landscape. And she felt it coming, because it would shake the earth under her feet. She knew that she had only one thing to do at that point, and that was to, in her words, "run like hell." And she would run like hell to the house and she would be getting chased by this poem, and the whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper and a pencil fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. And other times she wouldn't be fast enough, so she'd be running and running and running, and she wouldn't get to the house and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it and she said it would continue on across the landscape, looking, as she put it "for another poet." And then there were these times -- this is the piece I never forgot -- she said that there were moments where she would almost miss it, right? So, she's running to the house and she's looking for the paper and the poem passes through her, and she grabs a pencil just as it's going through her, and then she said, it was like she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail, and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. And in these instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact but backwards, from the last word to the first. (Laughter)

So when I heard that I was like -- that's uncanny, that's exactly what my creative process is like. (Laughter)

That's not all what my creative process is -- I'm not the pipeline! I'm a mule, and the way that I have to work is that I have to get up at the same time every day, and sweat and labor and barrel through it really awkwardly. But even I, in my mulishness, even I have brushed up against that thing, at times. And I would imagine that a lot of you have too. You know, even I have had work or ideas come through me from a source that I honestly cannot identify. And what is that thing? And how are we to relate to it in a way that will not make us lose our minds, but, in fact, might actually keep us sane?

And for me, the best contemporary example that I have of how to do that is the musician Tom Waits, who I got to interview several years ago on a magazine assignment. And we were talking about this, and you know, Tom, for most of his life he was pretty much the embodiment of the tormented contemporary modern artist, trying to control and manage and dominate these sort of uncontrollable creative impulses that were totally internalized.

But then he got older, he got calmer, and one day he was driving down the freeway in Los Angeles he told me, and this is when it all changed for him. And he's speeding along, and all of a sudden he hears this little fragment of melody, that comes into his head as inspiration often comes, elusive and tantalizing, and he wants it, you know, it's gorgeous, and he longs for it, but he has no way to get it. He doesn't have a piece of paper, he doesn't have a pencil, he doesn't have a tape recorder.

So he starts to feel all of that old anxiety start to rise in him like, "I'm going to lose this thing, and then I'm going to be haunted by this song forever. I'm not good enough, and I can't do it." And instead of panicking, he just stopped. He just stopped that whole mental process and he did something completely novel. He just looked up at the sky, and he said, "Excuse me, can you not see that I'm driving?" (Laughter) "Do I look like I can write down a song right now? If you really want to exist, come back at a more opportune moment when I can take care of you. Otherwise, go bother somebody else today. Go bother Leonard Cohen."

And his whole work process changed after that. Not the work, the work was still oftentimes as dark as ever. But the process, and the heavy anxiety around it was released when he took the genie, the genius out of him where it was causing nothing but trouble, and released it kind of back where it came from, and realized that this didn't have to be this internalized, tormented thing. It could be this peculiar, wondrous, bizarre collaboration kind of conversation between Tom and the strange, external thing that was not quite Tom.

So when I heard that story it started to shift a little bit the way that I worked too, and it already saved me once. This idea, it saved me when I was in the middle of writing "Eat, Pray, Love," and I fell into one of those, sort of pits of despair that we all fall into when we're working on something and it's not coming and you start to think this is going to be a disaster, this is going to be the worst book ever written. Not just bad, but the worst book ever written. And I started to think I should just dump this project. But then I remembered Tom talking to the open air and I tried it. So I just lifted my face up from the manuscript and I directed my comments to an empty corner of the room. And I said aloud, "Listen you, thing, you and I both know that if this book isn't brilliant that is not entirely my fault, right? Because you can see that I am putting everything I have into this, I don't have anymore than this. So if you want it to be better, then you've got to show up and do your part of the deal. OK. But if you don't do that, you know what, the hell with it. I'm going to keep writing anyway because that's my job. And I would please like the record to reflect today that I showed up for my part of the job." (Laughter)

Because -- (Applause) in the end it's like this, OK -- centuries ago in the deserts of North Africa, people used to gather for these moonlight dances of sacred dance and music that would go on for hours and hours, until dawn. And they were always magnificent, because the dancers were professionals and they were terrific, right? But every once in a while, very rarely, something would happen, and one of these performers would actually become transcendent. And I know you know what I'm talking about, because I know you've all seen, at some point in your life, a performance like this. It was like time would stop, and the dancer would sort of step through some kind of portal and he wasn't doing anything different than he had ever done, 1,000 nights before, but everything would align. And all of a sudden, he would no longer appear to be merely human. He would be lit from within, and lit from below and all lit up on fire with divinity.

And when this happened, back then, people knew it for what it was, you know, they called it by it's name. They would put their hands together and they would start to chant, "Allah, Allah, Allah, God God, God." That's God, you know. Curious historical footnote -- when the Moors invaded southern Spain, they took this custom with them and the pronunciation changed over the centuries from "Allah, Allah, Allah," to "Ole, ole, ole," which you still hear in bullfights and in flamenco dances. In Spain, when a performer has done something impossible and magic, "Allah, ole, ole, Allah, magnificent, bravo," incomprehensible, there it is -- a glimpse of God. Which is great, because we need that.

But, the tricky bit comes the next morning, for the dancer himself, when he wakes up and discovers that it's Tuesday at 11 a.m., and he's no longer a glimpse of God. He's just an aging mortal with really bad knees, and maybe he's never going to ascend to that height again. And maybe nobody will ever chant God's name again as he spins, and what is he then to do with the rest of his life? This is hard. This is one of the most painful reconciliations to make in a creative life. But maybe it doesn't have to be quite so full of anguish if you never happened to believe, in the first place, that the most extraordinary aspects of your being came from you. But maybe if you just believed that they were on loan to you from some unimaginable source for some exquisite portion of your life to be passed along when you're finished, with somebody else. And, you know, if we think about it this way it starts to change everything.

This is how I've started to think, and this is certainly how I've been thinking in the last few months as I've been working on the book that will soon be published, as the dangerously, frighteningly overanticipated follow up to my freakish success.

And what I have to, sort of keep telling myself when I get really psyched out about that, is, don't be afraid. Don't be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it, whatever that might be. If your job is to dance, do your dance. If the divine, cockeyed genius assigned to your case decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed, for just one moment through your efforts, then "Ole!" And if not, do your dance anyhow. And "Ole!" to you, nonetheless. I believe this and I feel that we must teach it. "Ole!" to you, nonetheless, just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.

Thank you. (Applause) Thank you. (Applause)

June Cohen: Ole! (Applause)
 


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這部短片給藝術相關工作者,在創作遇到瓶頸時一個出口!謝謝翻譯人員!

garjzla2006, 2011-01-07 23:40:07
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workonet, 2010-10-13 14:53:36

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