More thoughts on creative tension
A first-draft zine from my diary
Last week a writer interviewed me about creative tensions, an almost completely unoriginal and ancient idea that I’ve been working on in public. (See previous letters: “Resistance is Necessary,” “Warp & Weft,” and “Energy in the Gap.”)
The writer sent me a list of questions she wanted to ask me. I decided to try to answer them by opening up my diary and seeing what happened. One never knows with these kinds of interviews if they’re even going to use what you give them, so I always try to make it worth my while by using it as an opportunity to gather old thoughts and/or generate new ones.
Halfway through, it occurred to me that I could scan my diary pages and turn them into a mini-zine and send it to her.
Now I’m sending it to you. (At the end of this email there’s a PDF you can print/fold/cut.)
I came to the unity of opposites through the work of Iain McGilchrist. It’s an idea that goes, way, way back. In western culture, back to Anaximander. (The physicist Carlo Rovelli, one of my favorite writers, wrote a book about Anaximander that’s on my shelf, but out-of-print. Looks like it’s getting reissued next year by Riverhead.)
“Negative capability” is an idea that, appropriately, took me a while to get.
A related quote that I love, from F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Crack-Up:
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.
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