Sunday, 19 September 2010

Inspiration - Zenith! article

Below is my contribution to Zenith! #1, and it was written fast, because we needed to fill a page, and it's basically my manifesto for life, and for writing, and I thought it interesting to share it here with you. Z!#1 is actually quite close to print now. Still needing a cover...

“I’m a big fan of pretension. It means ‘an aspiration or intention that may or may not reach fulfilment.’ It doesn’t mean failing upward. It means trying to exceed your grasp. Which is how things grow.”

-- Warren Ellis.

We all find inspiration in different things. Terrifying, varying, awesome things. We find inspiration in film, and in music, and in cinema, and we take all these disparate, unconnected things and make them into something that transcends their base components. George Lucas found inspiration in the films of Akira Kurosawa, and if it wasn’t for that we wouldn’t have the Star Wars trilogy-- and depending on your opinion of the series-- that would be a terrible thing. Without Star Wars we wouldn’t have modern science fiction, hundreds of filmmakers wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing now. If it wasn’t for Star Wars we wouldn’t have films like Moon, Inception, films that have made the viewing public think and question what are considered the norms of cinema.

The following quote by Jim Jarmusch encapsulate my own approach to creativity and creation: “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery-- celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from-- it’s where you take them to.”

It’s not about what you steal, it’s about what you make from it. If you steal an idea, change a name, change a setting, and it reads like you’ve stolen it then you won’t ever get the satisfaction, the true feeling of accomplishment, that comes with creating a work of art. You become a thief. But if you find something that inspires you, you allow yourself to be taken on this amazing journey by your inspiration, and end up in a place you never dreamed of visiting before, then that… that is what this is about. That’s what we, as writers, as artists, as photographers and thinkers, that’s what we strive to do.

It’s not stealing if you make something from it. It’s stealing if you steal, and keep it stolen, and do nothing with what you’ve stolen but change the details. But to create something from the ashes of an idea that has come before. Yes. That is what we’re in the business of doing.

So find something you love. And make something new from it. Take an idea and build and build until you’ve created a monument to the old idea, something shiny and bright and for the future. We must attain for the highest echelons of creativity or we’ll dwell in the muck and the shit that comes with stagnation and repetition. Hollywood is going that way, adapting comics and books and songs and sonnets into half-arsed celebrity infested schlock-- No. No, this needs to end. Create an idea that is new and terrifying and gets you noticed. Be scary. Be great. Be different. But don’t perpetuate this cycle of diminishing returns. Reach for unseen heights.

And then, obviously, when you’re rich and famous remember us here at Zenith! and give us some kind of cut for old times’ sake. We’re all friends here, aren’t we?

1 comment:

  1. this is brilliant!

    Just last week I began the day by destroying any last flickering originality from a script i'm working on. I had clicked on to friend's website. Two images confronted me, one of a Nelson Mandela quote, the other of several lines from Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, chalked up behind a bar.

    It's kind of liberating somehow when you trace 'ideas' to one of their sources. A forgotten moment.