A Foggy thought about The Role of the Fog in the Creative Process
I was on my way from Logan Airport to New Hampshire. The weather was foggy and driving seemed difficult. Luckily enough I was sitting in the back of one of those vans that drive you from the airport to various places. I was half asleep and it seemed as though the fog slowly started to enter my mind. I can’t remember if it was the fog outside that I saw or the picture of it in my mind. Next thing I remember is the fog slowly clearing and the details of some Russian song I had to play soon were all there. All the problems I was thinking about were solved right there without me doing anything. As Albert Einstein once said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” That experience happened about ten years ago, but it is still vivid in my mind. Many times I thought about the role of that fog in my creative experience as well as in my students’. Over the years I have noticed three ways in which this fog, or uncertainty, functions in the creative process: Sometimes the fog is so heavy that we feel we need to get in there and find out what really happens. From my own experience, whenever I act this way I get a very detailed but rather narrow picture. The impulse to go in and look from a very close distance is always when I feel that some detail is missing. This is when I would sit and analyze a piece of music in great detail. Other times I do not feel that I am missing details but I am missing the big picture. Just like on the ride to New Hampshire. In that case, there is no reason to move from where we stand. We just need to wait patiently and let the fog clear. It might take longer than we expect, but eventually the view will reveal itself to us. This is usually what I experience with new ideas that come to my mind. Ideas, thoughts and concepts, they all tend to behave this way.
But there is another thing that happens when it is foggy. Sometimes we do not want to go in and get a close look, yet we can’t wait either. Not because we are in a hurry, but because something in us feels that it is the time. We are excited. This is the most creative time and we do not want to waste it. What happens then is that we see some blurred, unclear picture and we complete the picture from our imagination. Some will probably say that it is the wrong picture that I have created and I say that it is a new picture that I have created. So when the fog clears, we will have two pictures, an old one and a new one. Even if it is rather different, the new picture might have its own logic, its own integrity and its own beauty. This is what performance is for me. If there is no fog, I am not happy. It means that nothing new happened and the performance went exactly as I have conceived it. Sometimes the fog will just go away as I feel more secure. The great moments are those when out of the fog I create something that I have never done before. It is even more exciting when I work with young people. When they trust me enough to surprise me, I show them some fog and they create the most unbelievable new pictures and sounds and stretch their abilities to the point they surprise themselves.
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