09 February 2012

From Uncommon Genius, by Denise Shekerjian

Denise Shekerjian wrote a fascinating and insightful book years ago based on her interviews with MacArthur Foundation winners (commonly known as Genius Award). Here are some excerpts from the book to mull over. 

“Let the bird sing without deciphering the song.”
-          Emerson

“If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, what am I?”
-          the Talmud

“My resiliency comes from the process of the work itself, and the hope of making a difference.”
- Dr. Joan Abrahamson

“Do we assume that to be creative we are condemned to a life eked out of the hard-bitten territory of alienation and desperation? Must we prepare ourselves for the possibility that our work will be cast in the dubious critical light of an ambiguous legacy?
“There are no sure answers to these questions, as each man’s life spins on the axis of his own idiosyncratic bundle of talents and experiences, triumphs and petty failures. There are as yet no firm conclusions as to the relationship between the creative process and psychic disorder, but there is one small serviceable observation that we can draw from the testimony of these creators: if you’re interested in pursuing creative work and in having it recognized and even rewarded, you had better cultivate an ability for self-renewal, an ability to be resilient.”
- Denise Shekerjian

“It’s not that creativity and madness are necessarily linked, but rather that creativity and deviance (sometimes heroic, sometimes reckless) go hand in hand.”
- Denise Shekerjian

“Good science and good art are always about a condition of awe. This may seem to you like a large theme, but the best science and poetry at its greatest are not smaller than that. I don’t think there is any other function for the poet or the scientist in the human tribe but the astonishment of the soul.”
- Derek Walcott

Instinct presents the creator with a range of possibilities; judgment is how he selects among them, keeping what is useful and turning aside that which clutters, distracts, and causes static in the mind. …
Judge too soon and a new, imperfect, and fragile thought born from instinct or from some even hazier impetus may be cut off before it has a chance to mature and withstand scrutiny.
- Denise Shekerjian

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