Doug Bruns

Posts Tagged ‘Creativity’

Saturday Quote

In Creativity, Writing on June 30, 2012 at 6:00 am

Do you have a release valve?

You are familiar with the concept of an ear-worm? That tune you can’t get out of your head? This quote has plagued me like a brain-worm. I can’t think of a pithier description of the creative process.

“I write to equalize the pressure from without and from within.” ~ Vera Pavlova, poet.

Have a nice weekend and thank you for reading.

Gentlemen of Baltimore: Flynn

In Creativity, Photography, Writing on May 22, 2012 at 6:00 am

If all goes as scheduled, today I return home. I look forward to catching up with my friends at …the house…. In the mean time, one last prepared post, another story from The Gentlemen of Baltimore.


Flynn sat on a bench in the shade. There was a book next to him, The city Boy. “It was the first book Herman Wouk wrote,” he said. “I have an eidetic mind. The second definition of it is total recall, a photographic mind. That’s what most people are familiar with.” I asked him what is the first definition. “Science of the world,” he quoted, “intuitively apprehended.” He said he wanted to open a bank and cited regulations required to start a financial institution. He said his bank would also provide inexpensive used cars. “I will address the needs of moderate and low-income people.” I remarked on his creativity. “I have a lot of ideas. And they are all elegant.”

Satisfaction? Can’t get no…

In Creativity, Curiosity, Life, The Examined Life on April 26, 2012 at 6:00 am

The American journalist and critic, Paul Rosenfeld, wrote of Alfred Stieglitz that he “had a curious intuitive faith that the black box, and chemical bath and the printing paper could be made to record to his satisfaction what he felt about the world.”

Satisfaction extinguishes restlessness. Stieglitz was restless and, contrary to Rosenfeld’s observation, I doubt that photography or any other endeavor Stieglitz pursued, and there were many, brought him satisfaction.

Satisfaction, like faith, is the end of things. That is, once embraced, satisfaction is a balm to the restless. It silences the question, quells the itch, extinguishes curiosity. The search ends. A hush envelops the victim and the river rages undiscovered. The canvas is draped. Form ceases its pursuit of function and all of mystery comes to rest resolved. The world appears set right and the chair exceedingly and surprisingly comfortable.

Fade to black.

I do not recommend satisfaction as a strict way of life.

Please excuse me. I climbed atop a very high horse this morning.

Masterclass of a Life Well Lived

In Creativity, The Examined Life, Writers, Writing on December 2, 2009 at 12:36 am

A few years ago I attempted to write a work of extended fiction. I’d written a few short stories and essays, some of which found their way into print. I had been following Hemingway’s advice to ready myself for the long haul by working up to it, like a boxer training for a bout–or something appropriately Hemingwayesque to that manly effect. So, I began this “extended fiction” (why is it that the word novel seems so daunting and intimidating?) and set a course to explore the only, for me, truly compelling theme. To wit, How should a life be lived?

Once, many years ago, in a distant existence, in a parallel universe, I was asked to contribute a chapter to a book about entrepreneurship. I had walked in those shoes for a while with a modicum of success and someone foolishly thought I actually knew something about the subject. I wrote my chapter and adorned it with a awkward title about which I am now embarrassed. In essence, the chapter title, spoke to my belief that creativity trumps everything else, talent, motivation, timing and all the rest of it. In business, and in life, creativity rules.

Getting back to the novel, my character, a successful dot com-er (I was writing at the height of the dot com bubble) decides one day to cash out and hit the road, to set out, as Twain said, for territories unknown. This guy was the perfect foil. He had plenty of resources–i.e. money–no commitments, a sense of self that reached beyond his present situation, albeit however well-stoked he found himself, and nothing but time on his hands. The premise is quite simple: What would you do with your life if you could do anything you wanted? It is the most profoundly creative question a person can ask. At some point in your life-block of Carrera marble gets dropped across your path and someone hands you a hammer and chisel. What do you do? How do you chisel out a life? How do you create it? I didn’t know what I’d do, so I wrote a novel to figure it out.

The ultimate creative assignment is the masterclass in a life well lived. I wanted, in the writing of the novel, to tackle this most personal of challenges. And here’s what happened. Nothing. Nothing happened. My guy, the character in my novel, having money and time and motivation, well, he was a bust. I could develop no creative tension in the narrative. In other words, I couldn’t answer the question, what would I do, if I could do anything I wished with my life. Was there no creative tension to my existence?

This is not an exercise in navel gazing. (I dread the cliché above all else.) So the question above will remain purely rhetorical. My existence and its creative tension, or lack thereof, is of no matter. Here is the point. Life need be carved out of raw material–created, in essence–to be, upon Socratic inspection, well designed. It ain’t gonna just happen. Sartre said that everything in life must submit to art. Creativity is an expressed solution to an unasked question. My protagonist had no challenges, and therefore his life lacked the luster of a well-polished coat of creativity.

Make of it what you will. But know this: the act of creation is the purest of expression. Draped across the robust shoulders of life, it is at once profound and beautiful.