Friday, July 03, 2009

Destruction and Creativity

I've just discovered The Best American Poetry web site, which includes a blog featuring a different writer each week. The June 28 - July 4 blogger is fiction writer Tess Callahan. I especially like her entries on "The Perfect Day" and "The Creative Process: Painting, Writing, and the Case for Ruthlessness." The second one mentions Kali, the Hindu god of creativity and destruction. Also, Callahan evokes the film, The Mystery of Picasso:
Picasso starts with broad geometric shapes that immediately take possession of the entire page. Then come shading, color and depth. The most striking thing about the film is Picasso’s spontaneity, the dexterity with which he changes course. In one breath he has drawn an intricate fish. Just when you think it is perfect, he dives back in and transfigures it into a rooster. His changes are ruthless. He has no hesitation about obliterating what he has just done in order to transform it into something else. Just when you want to scream out, “Stop! You are destroying a Picasso!” he leaps in again to vaporize the rooster into a demon’s head. As an artist, it’s hard to watch this film without gasping. Many of us know the anguish of realizing we have to cut the very line we thought was brilliant. With Picasso, there is no anguish. His mercilessness is stunning. He may have been an arrogant SOB in life, but in art he was without egoic attachment. The film illustrates his total surrender to form. By prior agreement, when Clouzot finished shooting The Mystery of Picasso, all of the paintings were destroyed
Writers and artists, then, must be masters of destruction as well as creation.

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