The Daemon Inside

TED Talks is an inspiring website. I hadn't looked at it in about a year since I left the advertising industry as I felt that arrogant ad people kind of took ownership of TED, which is complete bullshit, and decided that since, in their not humble opinion, advertising was the most innovative and creative world that clearly TED Talks was speaking directly to them, for them, and by them. Of course, this is all in my head but a big reason I escaped that world.

Anyhow, a friend urged me to watch Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat, Pray, Love" speak on TED Talks, and am I ever grateful that she did. It is, for me in the place in my life currently, utterly inspiring, and I think part of the reason I've been having such flashes of inspiration and writing jags for the last two days. I'm starting a script with a new writing partner! and I came up with some other writing projects that I'm really excited about.

Gilbert talks about how, since the Renaissance, society thinks of artists as tortured and mentally unstable, and why that is, and how we can change, together, this idea which hurts our creative processes and keeps us in a fearful position unable to move forward with our art (at least in my case). She talks about fear and how yes she is scared of failure (or, at least, was scared until Julia Roberts started playing her in a movie based on her damn book). Creativity and suffering do not have to be such intimate bedfellows.

She talks about how she moves past her anxiety in order to create. Here she starts discussing the ancient Greeks and Romans - I love these guys. Here is what she says (hey, it's early in the morning, words not stringing together so well at the moment. She's much more succinct than I)

"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."

Anyways, I love the idea that creating something doesn't have to be a burden that the artist carries all on her own. It's a collaboration - something I've been craving for a very long time - between the artist and her creative spirit, something to help her, or perhaps hurt her, but at least something else to take on the responsibility for making something move forward and to help knock down the road blocks which sometimes seem to come at you from every angle.

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