Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The good order - creativity needs routine

I really liked David Brooks' recent OpEd piece in the NYTimes. It is one of many published comments praising Obama's recent speech at the United Nations on the world order, putting it in the context of the general conditions required for building and maintaining the kind of order required for creativity at individual, political, and global levels. The piece starts by noting the disciplined routines of creative writers (which makes me feel much better about my fuddy-duddy rigid morning schedule of thinking and writing from exactly 8:30 till 11:30 a.m. every weekday.) Some clips:
..Maya Angelou..would go off to a hotel room she kept — a small modest room...She would arrive at the room at 7 a.m. and write until 12:30 p.m. or 2 o’clock....John Cheever would get up...ride the elevator in his apartment building down to a storage room in the basement.. and write until noon...Anthony Trollope would arrive at his writing table at 5:30 each morning... He would write 250 words every 15 minutes for two and a half hours every day... “I cannot imagine life without work as really comfortable,” Sigmund Freud wrote... W.H. Auden...checked his watch constantly, making sure each task filled no more than its allotted moment. “A modern stoic,” he argued, “knows that the surest way to discipline passion is to discipline time..”
..Children need emotional and physical order so they can go off and explore.
..Communities need order to thrive and cooperate since where there is chaos and disorder there is distrust and withdrawal.
..The world needs order, too, a set of assumed norms and routines that all nations adhere to. You can’t have freedom, trust, democracy and self-determination when thugs like Vladimir Putin of Russia are rampaging across borders and monsters like the Islamic State are killing innocents.
..Building and maintaining order — whether artistic, political or global — seems elementary, but it’s surprisingly hard...Preserving world order is even harder. President Obama showed that kind of toughness in his United Nations address this week (you knew I was going to make this leap). It was one of the finest speeches of his presidency.
...the order of global civilization, like the order in a poet’s mind, is something that has to be fought and imposed every day. The best life is a series of daring excursions from a secure and orderly base.

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