Brian Eno on discovery: Surrender
I just love this little video.
Brian Eno has had a long career in art, and in rock, ambient and, more recently, generative music. If you are involved in any creative work - and you are whether you know it or not - his thoughts on the process of discovery in the video to the right are striking.
Three stood out:
One of the things art offers you is the chance to surrender, the chance to not be in control any longer. If you think about it, in our culture most of the encouragement is to 'take control.....'
Creativity is not so much making something new, but of 'noticing when something is happening.'
An inequality of opportunity exists, of course. But there is also 'an inequality of readiness.'
For much of our history we humans have intuited the need for periods of quiet, to be alone with ourselves to know what there is to know. No one ever suggests "'go fast' and smell the roses," and in an age of endless demand for speed an "equality of readiness" might mean being a little less quick to jump when the phone rings, or of simply making more time for yourself or close friends, or, in my case, of cutting back on the volume of news I consume. There is only so much attention to go around, and it's squandered all too easily responding to the clamorous pinging of contemporary life.
"Noticing when something is happening" will certainly be a subject discussed by Maria Konnikova, the author of "How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes," when she appears at IdeaFestival 2013 in September. Alert observation is perhaps the oldest tool for discovery in the human toolbox, and one that is all too often neglected in our rush to meet the next deadline or to show up for that client meeting.
And finally, this related thought: the Festival of Faiths, which will take place in advance of the Dalai Lama's appearance in Louisville on May 19, will feature a rich discussion on the practice of silence. Silence has always been important in the lives of many of the faithful in every religious tradition. The great irony is the loss of self while being absorbed in contemplation, in the case of a spiritual practice, or in the "flow," as described by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, is the hallmark of a fecund psychology. It's then, I've found, when we're most available to that something that is happening.