August 15th, 2014

Frylock Side

The Limitations of Creation

Artistic creations come in many forms. Most anything can be created. The sky is the limit. Then something weird happens when the art is created. The artist must struggle to move beyond the creation. Why? The answer involves John Cleese and the Lao Tzu.

Several years ago I saw an interview with John Cleese. He is critically acclaimed for this work on Monty Python and Faulty Towers. John explained that even the most loony comedy has a logical internal structure. He gave a wonderful example that I will paraphrase. He said that is perfectly reasonable to have a skit in which five people sat in dustbins. They can all be wearing fishes on their heads and nose extensions. The mad dustbin existence becomes the accepted structure. With this established premise, the comedic writer must then 'explain' why man in a business suit appears. The newcomer does not inherently fit into the logic of the dustbins, and therefore his part in the skit's internal structure must be explained. This is an incredible insight.

The paradox is that there are no rules or boundaries for the creation of a creative form, but the act of creating places boundaries on the creation. The form can be a play, book, blog, or comedy skit. The form can even be a painting or musical piece. Once the form is created, and initial boundaries are established, further exploration and expansion of the form is held up against the internal 'logical' structure. Deviations are allowed. Good artists and writers can and will surprise their audience. The challenge is that deviations must somehow spring from the internal logic of the original. The creation of art is a celebration of limitless potential and the introduction of stifling structure.

John Cleese's comedic theory places psychology around artistic creations. Art finds a logic in a creative statement, but this statement, for good or bad, defines their relationship to other artistic structures. The artistic creation is now held accountable to other creations. The inherent logic of the original creates both easy channels and high walls to the expansion of the structure. Deviations are either easily added or there is extreme difficulty in synchronizing the existing logic with the newly desired modifications. There is either stagnation or an easy flow to new creations. What to do? Don't worry about it. Move on. Create more. The path is forward.

“To understand the limitation of things, desire them.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

“If you try to change it, you will ruin it. Try to hold it, and you will lose it.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching