Floor debris, Bob Dylan, and carpet soup.

As the parent of a toddler, my floors call for several layers of removal. I sympathize with the weight they’ve accumulated.

There's the layer of large debris: I try to make it through the whole room with one large octopus swooshing glide, trying to pick up more colorful plastic objects than my two arms can manage.

Next is the layer of particulate sediment: I sweep dried pasta bits, cheese clumps, discarded mango, and a blend of powder composed of potting soil, disintegrating rice crackers, and damp crumpled leaf bits.

Below this layer--the very base layer I scrape from the floor--are flattened mounds of oxidized banana, and milk-soaked cheerios that have dried and adhered to the floor. And then there is the evidence of her young baby diet from 1 year ago that I find periodically--pureed concoctions of lentils, green beans, and brown rice; chicken, carrots, and black-eyed peas. 

Tending to my floor debris helps me understand how I take in my surroundings, and how daily activities can be like drawing.

This makes me think of Bob Dylan. He was trying to describe his process in an interview, and described one particular song-writing experience as being like vomiting (Lehrer). In doing so, Dylan acknowledges all that he has ingested, all that has passed through his perceptual barriers, and then shared with us.

InThe Formative Dylan, Todd Harvey quantifies the portion of Dylan's melodies that are original. He has determined that magic number is one-third. The remaining two-thirds are borrowed from Anglo-American and African-American traditional songs. Dylan is not unique in this sense. Sinking into deeply connective thinking, whether you consider it creative or not, allows one to draw upon sources outside oneself.  It might feel like vomiting, listening to one's muse, running a 10K, gardening, etc. (what does it feel like to you? email me or comment)

Lewis Hyde writes about what it means to acknowledge that one-third of Dylan's melodies are original. I wonder about how one can actually measure such a thing. Especially when the experience of imagery, melodies, language, culture, etc. can feel messy.  We seem to have negative connotations with the term "regurgitation," often using it to refer to a person's ability to simply repeat back information without adding one's own insight or reshaping it in any way. Yet describing creative, critical thinking processes as being like vomiting is somehow more acceptable and interesting. Perhaps "regurgitation" indicates the sources are not as far along in the digestive tract. They come back up before they've had a chance to settle. There's an "involuntary all-at-once-ness to vomiting" that makes it more compelling (Steve Stelling, 2012)

When I was a kid, my Dad used to joke that we should cut up the rug under our dining room table and make soup out of it. You can imagine what a vivid image this created in my mind. Yet it seems like an appropriate image to leave you with.

-   -   -   -   -  Thought scraps, leads, and unresolved references  -   -   -   -   -

Creative Commons

Formless: A User's Guide

One can't really talk about the idea of the original without going into Sampling.

Tackling the notion of the original makes me think of Rauchenberg's Erased de Kooning. (You Tube video of Rauchenberg talking about it here)

An interview Elizabeth Gilbert I heard recently, where she talks about how she imagines her creative process.

Da-da blur, cat faces, and naming

Sometimes roots are too much