It’s 4am and my usual surfeit of medications has me wired and staring at the darkness up at the ceiling. Actually, there’s darkness everywhere right now, of course, but I have to be looking somewhere, don’t I? So what do you think about when you can’t sleep at that hour?
For some reason I’m obsessing about Bezalel.
Bezalel, if you aren’t familiar with the book of Exodus (either due to not subscribing to it or not having a comprehensive background in ancient literature–relax; you can still appreciate the literature aspect, even if you think books like that are fairytales), was the first real creative human recorded in human history (or literature; see first parenthetical). According to Exodus, God suddenly and instantaneously gave him Leonardo da Vinci skills out of the blue: metalworking of all kinds, gemworking (is there a term for that?), fabric design, leather working, woodworking, engraving, carving, weaving, dyeing, sculpting, casting. You name it. Basically everything and anything in the visual arts. And, according to the story, his level of skill was off the charts.
If the story’s true, and let’s assume it’s true for the sake of discussion, what on earth was going through his head when that happened? I mean, talk about the ultimate mind nuclear explosion. One second you’re just ordinary schmuck who can maybe whittle a piece of wood into a rough semblance of something that might look like a goat but maybe looks more like your mother-in-law but really looks like neither unless you’re squinting just right and have had too much of that foul fermented goat’s milk in the first place. And then the next second you can sculpt hot gold into a destroying angel that looks ready to leap off its base into molten blurring life. By the way, angels according to the real old stories and contrary to current popular angel angst lit, are not cute GQ models. They’re more like Transformers in full battle mode, but much scarier and minus the toystore-ready trappings.
Anyway, what happened to Bezalel in that millisecond is equivalent to jumping across the event horizon of a black hole.
What is creativity? No one talks about it much. Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard the standard: it’s observing life and taking your experiences and rearranging stuff into new configurations (new, that’s a laugh) and being able to see things from a slightly different perspective and then communicate that to other people. Uh, yeah. Whatever. That’s all fairly meaningless, to be honest. That’s on par with describing milk and saying, well, it’s this white stuff.
We play it as writers, even though I think we’re all clueless about it. Maybe it’s like having access to a drug (one of these bottles of pills on my nightstand) that you keep on taking. You get addicted to it and it has certain side effects, such as forcing you to write stories. And you just don’t know why. You’re not sure what’s in the pill. And you can’t even remember the name of the doctor who prescribed them.
Shrug. But you keep on writing. One of those inexplicable things, like trying to figure out why the umpteenth sunset you see is still strangely compelling and beautiful (even though your dog sitting next to you doesn’t seem to give a rip) or why the thought of home, even when you’re home, can suddenly make you feel lost.
Carry on. I hope you’re still sleeping.