28 Jun

Voltaire once said, “Appreciation is a wonderful thing; it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” At the risk of being greedy, may creative works, like the following, produce in us not only appreciation but also inspiration:

From literature: In preparation for the upcoming film adaptation, I recently reread “The Great Gatsby” and could open randomly to practically any page in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel to find an inspiring passage, so descriptive and sensuous that you almost feel it in your bones. Here’s one my smart and savvy wife highlighted:

The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names.

The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun, and now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music, and the opera of voices pitches a key higher. Laughter is easier by the minute, spilled with prodigality, tipped out at a cheerful word. The groups change more swiftly, swell with new arrivals, dissolve and form in the same breath…

From music: There are far more popular lyrics from the legendary Jimmy Buffett, but the following has to be my favorite:

The wino and I know the joy of the ocean

Like a boy knows the joy of his milkshake in motion

From television/movies: Yes, like most hit network programs it’s hopelessly mired in popped culture, but I still must salute whomever came up with the name “The Biggest Loser,” just like I applaud the positive example the show sets. Kudos also go out to “The Other F Word,” a film that explores the demands of fatherhood on punk rockers. “A touching peek at punk paternity,” is how the New York Times described the creative concept.

Interestingly, Adobe released a study in April showing that 82 percent of Americans believe “we are not living up to our creative potential.”

From the cheap, junk-food-like joy of a witty newspaper headline or TV show title to the deep, inspiring words of a Frost poem or classic American novel, what moves you in the world of words? When does their stimulation lead to reflection and when does it go beyond to fuel creative direction?



  1. Patt W (@DesignInhouse) June 28, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    I think most of us are too busy or too lazy to be creative… plus it’s hard in this heat! 😉

  2. JVC June 29, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    Love this, Mr. Lee. Makes me think I should re-read Gatsby. Gotta say that seeing truly talented artists in person (whether it’s writers at a reading, musicians in concert, etc.) is particularly inspiring. There’s something about the immediacy of them being right there in front of you–you can’t pretend that the art just popped into the world fully formed. (Hark, a real person made that!) I’ve found Radiohead concerts to be especially good for that. Inspiring, and humbling.

    And old high school yearbooks. If there’s one thing they teach you in j-school, it’s that. The best writing is found in the Paris Review and high school yearbooks.

  3. Ryan N July 2, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    For years I’ve kept my high school memories of Gatsby stuffed in some distant cranny in my cortex … filed non-alphabetically between latin declensions and long division. I enjoyed the verbal voyage on the F. Scott Fitzgerald today!

    The problem I’ve found with creativity is that I never know when it’s going to smack the back of my noggin, or go missing. A buddy of mine who is a daily newspaper cartoonist used to keep a notebook with him at all times to log his cartoon ideas whenever they’d pop up. Eventually, the notebook became a smart phone. When a gag came to mind, he’d log it in the phone. After a short time he had about 400 gags in his phone which equals more than a year of daily cartoons. A huge inventory!

    But unfortunately, like many creative people, he was spending too much time in the old right-brain side of the street and forgot to do the logical thing: back up his phone. After it crashed, not even a hypnotist could get him to locate the majority of those ideas again.

    As difficult as it seems, its a worthy endeavor to try keeping an enduring inventory of your creative thoughts before they vanish into the ether. I know this because I almost always forget to do it. BLee, you pose the question, “Why didn’t I think of that?” I submit that maybe you did. You just forgot you did.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: