Wednesday, November 30

Fwd: John Steinbeck on the Creative Spirit and the Meaning of Life


I shared Steinbeck's letter to his son about falling in love with you earlier. Anyway if you've forgotten no worries, the link is given here :) 
But I really loved his description of the creative spirit son. The description is brilliant. And the feeling strikes you any time during weirdass times. When I've done 100 miles on the bike. Or after a long trek. Or when I cracked the models during my PhD. Or when I've written a good letter to you. Or when I've done a good piece of explaining something to somebody. Or when I've done a good lecture. It feels good. You may think this might be endomorphins or something. Or adrenalin. Or whatever. But it's something to look forward to son. I went to see my goddess Ishtar yesterday at the British museum. And felt a bit like what Steinbeck described. 3000 years old terracotta baked clay high relief plaque. And she spoke to me across the ages. And I felt so energised. I'll send you more information on her soon. Found a good essay on her recently and very coincidentally. 
If you ask me how does this happen? Or what do I do that allows me to feel energised like this? I would say son that one needs two things. 1. Insatiable curiosity. Einstein said son that genius and children share one quality, curiosity. So I guess I'm still a child. :) 
2. Would be the ability to absorb son. See the second point whichc Steinbeck mentions. The issue of mass production. And technology. And smartphones. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying don't use technology. Heck I'm an early and rapid and fill adopter of technology but also to let things percolate. Way too many people have told me that I need to slow down to let things percolate and absorb but hey my rate of absorption is also different. And my dimensions are different as well. 
If I see a good image or view or thing I click it. Capture the feelings. Then research it. And study it. And dream about it. And write about it and feel it. So different ways of absorption. 
I've banged on enough son. Just a small idea. When you're on your ski trip, try to get away and walk into a quiet corner of the mountain where there's nobody there with you. Or maybe a good girl who can be quiet. Avoid them who prattle on. (Heh). But just watch and see and feel the mountains and snow and ice and wind. It's very quiet in the mountains and snow. The sound is absorbed son. And then you're with your own thoughts. And freeze your toes off. :) but some of those moments are precious. It can really energise you. And then when you're describing your skiing trip to people, that magical moment will come alive and you'll remember that trip forever. 

John Steinbeck on the Creative Spirit and the Meaning of Life
(via Instapaper)

"The free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world."
imageA decade before he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, John Steinbeck (February 27, 1902–December 20, 1968) wrote East of Eden (public library), which was eventually adapted into the 1955 film of the same title starring James Dean and which Steinbeck originally addressed to his two young sons. (The elder one, Thom, later became the recipient of Steinbeck's magnificent letter of advice on falling in love.)
The thirteenth chapter of the novel features some of the most beautiful, poignant, and timelessly transcendent prose ever written — a gorgeous meditation on the meaning of life and the essence of the creative spirit:
Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man. It happens to nearly everyone. You can feel it growing or preparing like a fuse burning toward dynamite. It is a feeling in the stomach, a delight of the nerves, of the forearms. The skin tastes the air, and every deep-drawn breath is sweet. Its beginning has the pleasure of a great stretching yawn; it flashes in the brain and the whole world glows outside your eyes. A man may have lived all of his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, even the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then — the glory — so that a cricket song sweetens his ears, the smell of the earth rises chanting to his nose, and dappling light under a tree blesses his eyes. Then a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished. And I guess a man's importance in the world can be measured by the quality and number of his glories. It is a lonely thing but it relates us to the world. It is the mother of all creativeness, and it sets each man separate from all other men.
Writing in 1952, and writing for his two young sons, Steinbeck peers into the future, perhaps our present, with a concerned and prescient eye:

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