“If an artist got enlightened or kinder or more balanced as they created the work of art, that made it great art”

blogging on creativity and being ✨

My talk from last week’s conference by the Design Museum of Chicago is here:

I’ve taken some time to rest. I’m watching my energy now. What drains me, what helps me feel better. I figured weeks into the pandemic I’d have a handle on things, but it still weighs heavy, and there’s a deep undercurrent of anxiety. It’s a reminder to myself how hard this is, and also a deep appreciation of the support around me.

Right now I’m really interested in ways to work with abstraction to expand the imagination, in particular through math. From there, how might we change how we relate to the world.

  • Near the end of this conversation on category theory, Dr. Eugenia Cheng describes creating words for what are traditionally seen as masculine and feminine characteristics, ingressive and congressive. She’s able to explore these outside of the connotations of “man” and “woman”, in order to better understand aspects of behavior in society, and also herself. She describes how this process of abstraction and shifting and observation is mathematical.
  • Wolfram talks about how difficult it would be to go right from counting to 21st century mathematics. In order to do this we build “way points” that allow for higher levels of understanding. He describes how with language it’s similar. A word is a “cognitive anchor”. Once the word exists, and society understands it, you can build on it.

There’s something I see in here with drawing. You bring something to existence, and then you can build on it. Or you can use it to more deeply understand things.

Something beautiful I heard on creativity — Sharon Salzberg mentions seeing a panel that began with the question: “Doesn’t art have to come from great suffering?” The Dalai Llama was on the panel, and responded (paraphrased by Salzberg) “a work of art has worth depending on what happens to the artist in the act of creating it. So if an artist got enlightened or kinder or more balanced as they created, more aware as they created the work of art, that made it great art.”

Over the last few weeks I’ve started to write a weekly note. This one is adapted from one emailed on 5/22/20.

Author of “Feeling Great About My Butt.” Previously: Writers @Medium, Product @embedly, Research @NECSI. http://whichlight.com.