Art & Development

Go to jail

Chance; go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200
Perhaps since I’ve thought about artists and how they are perceived at length, many of psychologist Mihaly Csikzentmihaly‘s points in Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention seem patently self-evident to me. But some parts, like the following anecdote, are uncannily familiar.

Jacob Rabinow uses an interesting mental technique to slow himself down to when work on an invention requires more experience than intuition:
“Yeah, there’s a trick I pull for this. When I have a job to do like that where you have to do something that takes a lot of effort, slowly, I pretend I’m in jail. Don’t laugh. And if I’m in jail, time is of no consequence. In other words, if it takes a week to cut this, it’ll take a week. What else have I got to do? I’m going to be here twenty years.”

Since a similar thought has crossed my mind about studio practice, I get a grim kick out of this approach to self-discipline, which is so often under-appreciated by those who think that being an artist is all fun, unharnessed, self-expression.


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