Creative balance

August 10, 2006


The question of staying with one project, or working on many at the same time is one that writers and artists of all ilks grapple with at some point in their lives. I have preferred monogamous creative efforts, working on one piece of music where I am utterly involved and obsessed about this one project. I teach my classes, I talk to you, and I live my life, but always percolating in the background is this one project.

Sometimes reality insists that we funnel our creative efforts into a variety of projects, such as what I get to do this summer: 2 chamber operas, a film, a revision of a 40-minute piece for chorus, and a new piece for women’s chorus. Right now I’m doing the revisions for the Crocodile’s Xmas Ball and Other Odd Tales. I hate doing revisions. I’m horny to get back to the film. And at a level beyond that, I want the film to be done so I can keep going on the 2nd chamber opera. That frustrated horniness to get back to work on a project, helps thrust me back into it, and invariably I get a huge amount of work done on the first day back. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is true. The balance between the creative thrust and the manifestation of that creative impulse is like a north-south magnetic pole analogy: utterly contrasting, but part of the same oneness. Balance those two forces (aka Dionysian and Apollonian) with the energy that having “a life” entails, and that is yet another layer that has to be brought into the equation.

If you’ve never seen Koyaanisquatsi (Life out of Balance), rent it immediately or buy the soundtrack. (I actually own the LP.) Regardless of what you think of Philip Glass, his music is perfect for the series (yes there are more).

[This is a fragment from the movie. The Philip Glass Ensemble accompanies this film live from time to time. See them if they come to a concert hall near you. It’s a thrilling experience. The animated gif (top) is from the University of Washington, Burns & Plastic Surgery faculty website and is taken from a hand-printed silkscreen by Peter Douglas and published on a greeting card by Tantra Designs, Bristol, England.]

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