“Why Creative People Are Eccentric”

diego rivera mural from chipancingo. no reason really. but hey, rivera was creative, right? maybe even...eccentric?

Why Creative People Are Eccentric, the article is called,  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-unleashed-mind and it closes with “well, let’s treat the freaks nice–if they’re productive–because they make things for our society.” Tzvetan Todorov says that sciencism, as a belief system, is more frightening than racism, because no one brags about being racist-ly minded and yet science often is used to construct elaborate and seemingly inarguable sets of data to maintain and reinforce oppressive frameworks. These days, of course, science operates less overtly. No one publishes papers on phrenology in the Scientific American anymore (thank god). But, the article above, is an example of the banal reinforcements that science, especially branches of science like neurology, psychology, genetics, and social sciences like anthropology (see Trinh T. Minh-ha for more on the latter), provide for modes of thinking that present a normal-ized Us against a diagnosable Them.

In the SA story, the author, Shelley Carson, points out that creative people often have eccentric thinking, fanciful beliefs, unusual perceptual experiences…believing their work is transmitted to them by other entities, dressing or behaving counter to cultural norms, etc. I don’t feel like analyzing the article, really, so i’m not working that hard here. But reading this, it’s not difficult to trace the line from here backwards to the more straightforward Western-Christian debunking of “heathen” beliefs, prominent during the hundreds of years of old-style colonial invasion (to be differentiated I suppose from current era colonial invasion, when god is mentioned less than “Freedom”, leading naturally to the question, “from what?”) based on the facts and proofs of the Christian bible. Read More

onions and ancestors

Tonight I made a small piece of chicken in a mound of golden sweet onion and garlic, gleaming with oil, bitten with salt.

I’m not sure how long it took me to learn how to caramelize onions. I learned by doing it over and over, once a month or once a week, throughout the course of what might have been five years. No one in my house growing up cooked; I ate frozen meals, macaroni and cheese and Ramen noodles every night for dinner until I was seventeen. During those years, I snacked constantly–on the hunt for flavors that weren’t there, textures, scents, corporal experience. A frozen dinner is a long ways from being the worst thing in the world, but as a corporal experience, I have to say, it lacks.

I don’t know why I needed to cook, but it was like being queer. Something lurking blankly around the edges until one day it caught a glimpse of its reflection (in the kitchen of my friend Jesa Rae), and then desire was born. A different kind of hunger.

I could chart my adulthood in meals and this would be perhaps a better marker than the ones I habitually use. It would look like a rich life, a centered life–colorful, done with intention, commitment, peace, balance.

There is fight battling against the sails but below deck, where I might begin the measure, all is steady. Life is celebrated.

And yet, I do not measure in food, not really, despite its central location. I measure in feelings and this is not wise; they are many and violent. They wrack the decks. They fill their fists with surf and beat the hewn and lovingly-planed sides until it seems they must give out. They spit brine and they cough and they whistle and then they throw down sun as if it were all the wealth in the world and they were set on spending it this minute. There are quiet seasons too, of course, when all the movement is in the deep down layers of the sea, held pressuredly, filmy with silt. On these days, the fish can be heard talking. I can’t describe their language; it is very strange, a sound you can only hear the moment you have ceased to listen. It squims and burbles and in order to respond you must invent another language to match it (because of course you can’t make the noises fish make), which you do and then afterwards doubt that it truly happened.

Storms are certainty, magic is doubt? plague of western thought.

I would like to divorce from this way of belief-ing. Imagine that tempests are in the language of fish something more like laughter, see a shattered sail as no more tragic than a break in clouds or sudden surge of music.

Yesterday–thinking about my lifelong envy of healthy families (biological or otherwise) and the small, safe enclosures they create–it occurred to me that I might need to find my home in the world before I can make it within a circle of known bodies. That family cannot be a place of hiding, not if it is to remain healthy…

The archetype of exile has ruled my own family on both sides for a very long time. There is something here that needs to be given its rest, a wanderer who must be told that they are home already–to sit, to accept the meal from the stranger, to begin to look around them and see what is here with more riveting clarity than the old world which has passed, which has completed its work and taught its lessons.

We cannot be fugitives anymore; my ancestors are tired. The question is: how do you teach ghosts to dance?

(At least they are laughing ghosts; this is a start.)