Thursday, November 05, 2009

Messy Genius Necessary? And Happy Birthday Sesame Street

When last I blogged (not that long ago was it) I was sharing about the assignment run that I’m on at the moment and you catch me right in the middle of another assignment, so again this is not going to challenge War and Peace for length in any shape of form whatsoever.

I tend to use these blog breaks as a way to keep the old mental matter ticking, but give it a break from whatever rigours it has undergone in the time previous to it. As a writer I need atmosphere and momentum to get stuff done. Although I can work off inspiration a great deal, I’m not always one who can just sit down and start typing on the given subject matter at hand. Sometimes I need to gear myself up for what I’m about to write and that takes a bit of mental doodling and messing around online or with other documents and electronic stuff knocking about on the laptop on which I work, before that clear zone is seen and I can effortlessly shift into hyper-work gear and get some serious stuff done. It’s how it worked last night when I got that first assignment complete and although it wasn’t perfect, for what was required in the circumstances I was fairly pleased at getting the job done.

At this time I find myself in a similar situation in at least getting the job done in the perspective and context of that which has been asked of me, for that I’m really grateful with the opportunities to set the infrastructure in place for me to have the run that I’ve had tonight in completing the job.

As I mentioned, though, I need to create the environment. That environment is as much an audio one as it is a spatial one. So for example, I’m more than content working in what others call a mess, because my only focus is the writing implement that I’ll be using as the receptacle in which to pour the mind-juice. However the sound has to be right. That’s why I’m not always keen on working in the same room with other people when I’m doing some typing work or the likelihood is I’m going to be distracted. So I have to be alone. Not only that but there has to be a good background stimuli sound. Usually that’s a playlist I’d have set up with the appropriate tunes determined by the subject matter on which I’m writing. Sometimes however a playlist or the range of songs I have doesn’t quite cut the muster and I need a little something different.

Tonight was one of those nights. After a bit of a listless time searching through to discover what would be appropriate I started wandering around YouTube to see if they had anything that would be of interest. I came across this intriguing playlist in the life of Miles Davis. How I am able to do it is something that God Himself knows, but I am able to pay attention to the nature of the documentary whilst still rattling off the words for the assignment which perhaps says something about the assignment as well as the level of commitment I need to get job done. Hey perhaps it also says something about the level of preparation that’s been put into this in the first place.

Anyway, I was mostly troubled by what was being stated about the man’s life. Now these were contributions made by ‘the people who would know him best’. It painted a picture of an undoubted musical pioneer and yeah perhaps a genius. There would be no doubt that his contributions not just to jazz but music as a whole have been breathtaking in how they have mesmerised and spellbound listeners and influenced those who have come behind him to make him the envy of peers. Those are accolades and tributes that many a man would be pleased with.

Yet the brother’s character comes off all wrong. Riddled with addiction issues and evident pride complexes that would sometimes make him as insufferable as it would make him inspirational to others. I know there is the thing about being driven and focussed, but do you really have to bear severe character flaws to be accepted as genius? Do you really have to be that messed up to be the perfect vessel for works that will have the world applauding? Is that the price for fame and a lasting musical/artistic legacy?

Don’t get me wrong I think the whole thing about Christianity is that it works best with people who are only too aware of how messed up they are. The whole humility and meekness deal is dependent on the implicit admission of total inadequacy and a complete competence to mess anything up given our own way. Some of the best Christian biographies are of those with the greatest character flaws and challenges – that’s not the issue. The difference between Miles Davis and Billy Graham to pull a random Christian out of the hat is that the latter was not only in touch with his ‘greatness’ but was more than aware that this was not from him as it were and the appropriate position then was one of humility. Passionate about preaching? Sure. Gifted at communicating that passion to others? Sure. But all the results and anything came from the One who commissioned him, as opposed to some sense as if his genius was inevitable and others should just be privileged to be breathing the same oxygen.

I have no aspirations for greatness as the world defines it. I’m not seeking after the fame and fortune as it were, but I am very much aware of my pride and ability to take the gifts I’ve been given for granted as if I’m just good that way. As a result I am all the more desperate to live off my dependence on God as the one who sustains me and allows any aspect of my gift to emerge, even on something like writing an assignment.

Speaking of which … we shall meet again should the Lord spare our lives.

Oh but before I go, Google were reminding today that today was the 40th Anniversary of the most important television programme in my developmental years. I’m sure I’ve blogged it before elsewhere, but I’m happy to blog it again. Happy Birthday Sesame Street – now there’s a creation of genius that didn’t require the guy to live off any significant character failings!

For His Name's Sake



No comments: