People often ask me, “How do you do it? How do you continually create such timelessly inspiring oeuvres of sesquapedalianism?” I laugh, sometimes to myself, because in truth, there’s really no deep mystery.
So many fellow artists balk when asked about their “process.” They obfuscate their answers with vague metaphors or embellish the truth to portray themselves as the unnaturally endowed geniuses they’re not. It’s disgraceful and inconsiderate to the young who sincerely seek advice… I say, no longer.
In the following paragraphs, I will describe my creative process in such a way that any aspiring artist can understand and use to help him/her/it achieve true greatness, regardless of their medium.
The first hands-on practical tip for successful artistic creation is simply to dim the lights. As Hegel explained, the owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of dusk. Interpretations abound, but I know what the great thinker really meant was, light more candles.
Three oversized multi-wick candles from a Pottery Barn-like retailer will suffice. Don’t overpay, we’re talking wax and string here. But you must have several lit prior to creating, as fire is the purest sub-orbital energy-force linking contemporary consciousness with that distinctive primordial Daryl-Hannah-Clan-of-the-Cave-Bear type juice-flow.
Even if you’re an a.m. writer, after enjoying the early morning light, think about dropping the blinds and originating some fire. Fire is active. It fills one with the literal flicker of inspiration. If you’re allergic, as some creative types are known to be, immediately install some high-end light sensitive dimmers that can be lowered until providing a bronzing hue of burnt sienna.
Incense is also a must. Can’t get creative in a place stinking of thawed burger meat. I recently acquired authentic peasant incense from Nepal, and not just any scent, but the precisely desired odor as explicated in the indices of the Koran.
Smell is our strongest sense, as our pal Proust said in A la Recherché du Temps Perdu and Ziggy Freud engendered in his use of cocaine before taking hypnotized female patients from behind. Nasal stimulation is essential for creative endeavors. In the future, I predict a massive expansion into the odiferous arts, including international smelling festivals and advanced college curricula et al.
Equally crucial to smell is the powerful domain of sound. The proper groove is indispensable in championing creativity and has been since well before the Elysian Mysteries. In the Golden Age, the celebration of Dionysus depended on escalating drumbeats and repetitive chanting to reach God-like states of ecstasy.
The medium’s powers have never faded. Music, when accompanied with a top shelf bourbon and a simple cigarette, for example, can suspend time completely. I recommend Latin jazz, preferably the early work of Tito Puente or Herbie Mann, or whenever capable, the unstructured neo-jazzicanonical improvisations of Keith Jarret. There are days when it’s just classical, all day long, and others where playing the Steely Dan catalogue chronologically does the trick.
Understand that often, even with these preparations, the inspiration– as that’s what all this flapdoodle’s for, remember– remains unhatched. It’s in me. I know it’s in me, because I can feel it like a wedding-boner. But it remains reluctantly and defiantly unshaped. Nay, we must coax the idea, patiently, judiciously, like some tethered Egyptologist on a gentrified but dangerous please-let-me-become-a-famous-historical-figure type dig of unfound relics such as the famed Jesus Cup.
Now, Plato may have been wrong, but it was a practical way to stay sane in Archaic times to believe that there were a fixed number of ideas in the world. What a conundrum to have to try and wrap your mind around anything as endless. I mean, take mushrooms once and you’ll have a pretty lucid concept of just how infinite a walk-in closet can be, much less the known universe.
So understand that the creative constipation backed-up in all of us needs be inveigled, enticed as all obstinate bowel movements are, regardless of race creed or color. That is the very reason why it is called a pro-cess. Pro, meaning for, and cess, as in cesspool.
Hence the cerebral defecation of said idea from the few remaining brain cells I have left onto recycled paper, or in the sand with a stick as far as I care, occurs so that I have some hardcopy artifact that I possess the idea; because when you finally nail the bitch down in led or ink or sangre roja, it’s as sacred as the Carthaginians must have felt smacking their undernourished gums just prior to sacrificing pre-pubescent goats during their naughty Saturnalia rituals.
And that’s when I begin drinking.
A little red wine, say, a case, into the blood stream lubricates the psyche. It’s no accident that ancient philosophical symposia took place after dinner, lying on long chair-like sofa’s, drinking pitcher upon pitcher of wine, or sangria as new research leads us to believe, and continued until dusk or dawn or however long they sashayed round the unspeculable diatribing on the aesthetics of the current misappropriation of customs, and what their fascination was with little boys we may never know.
The main thing is, the most intellectually active were consistently shitfaced. Socrates won arguments not from a surfeit of mental acumen, but from his ability to be the last man pontificating.
So my creative process, my inspiration, is matriculated first with the lamps dimmed low and wine glass glow off the light of the newly charged laptop. A twenty-four hour iShuffle has me, to adopt the Jazz terminology, pretty fucking loose, Popi.
And just then, in the moment before penetrating my big, new, fat-ass idea, I take a healthy but controlled toke off a northern Californian marijuana cigarillo a friend left in my car for when I was in really bad traffic, and three and seven sixteenths hundredths seconds later, I am swimming through a giant mental peristalsis instigator. The floodgates are open and my mind is flowing like Tom Carvel drooling in the vanilla. Total lucidity. Anti-being and timelessness. Freedom from the ego-centrifuge via Ockham’s Razor slicing open my parietal lobe like so many unbroken piñatas pregnant with literary progeny.
And before I know it, it is pouring rain. Thunderclouds crack the windowpane brainstorm, power-purging and surging towards my own apoplectic existence. Twice I’ve been struck by self-induced lighting originating from the micro-neural electrical storm of my own genius, and the Weather Channel people are pissed!
Only after seducing the inspiration, gently, can you porn star it in every position. I defile the thought with illogical positivism. I slander my unfinished self-portrait with Pollack-esk slops of un-inhibition. Words fast fire from my fingerlings like William Hurt in Altered States on fast forward scan and the Tegusigalpayans are howling!
I pillage my mental village, philosophizing with spatulaic inaccuracy. Not judging, not stopping, not worrying about what any of it means.
I’m tie-bowing and Tyra Banking inside my cranial-danskins, steering anonymous gondolas through dendritic channels of vacillating multicolored Jell-O puddings. Crushing passion fruits into frozen drinks. Stepping off the balcony like however many winged lobsters to enjoy the motherfucking view!
Then and only, the second before actually beginning to physically write, in my case (for you it might be painting, or interpretive choreography) do I tie myself off, find the vein, and jam the spike. Smick-smack-paddy-whack-jam-the-needle-home, you caramel coated sons a beyatches!
And just as my eyes spin backward into my skull, I grab the nearest bottle of urinated mescal or tequila, perform a self-inflicted traciotomy and pour that poison, worm and all, right into my neck hole.
For a few fleeting and invaluably precious moments, I become one with ying and yang and Jung. Karma’s Buddha and Zarathustra, Thus Spaking all over the godforsaken place. Elvis’s pelvis. Metallica’s early albums. Bearded Zeus sitting in the judgment chair, transvalue-ing morality like it’s on an etch-a-sketch!
Gimmie another smoke man! What do you mean you’re out? Fuck it, let’s eat this acid. Last call? No fucking way, my watch says it’s two minutes to 4, you son of a bastard! Please, I gotta capture the floe of genius before I lose the inspiration!!! Father! FATHER!! MOMMMI !!! MOMMI !!!!! MOMMI !!!!
Then, when the drugs where off… I edit.