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Invitations to further inquiry

It is not every day that you read a book where neither the topic nor the format can be completely defined as you are used to; where not a single word seems redundant, but the sentences has the character of exactly what the author writes on page one: an invitation to further inquiry.

Invitations to further inquiry

Music producer Rick Rubin's book The creative act is unusual. Instead of a traditional review I therefore thought it would make sense to gather what I myself have taken away from my first reading.

There are lots of excellent points on almost every page, but overall the book is about the approach to artistic creation itself: Know that creativity flows through you and not from you. So never try to stay in control of the creative process, but remain open.

Never let either good experiences or too many unfortunate mistakes stand in the way of trying something new. Learn from mistakes, and don't make the same ones over and over again, but also never be afraid to make new ones.

The worst thing you can do is adjust your creative work because you think others demand or expect a certain result. Your art must be worked into the core where it cannot be any different, but is radically itself.

No unnecessary stylism, but an expression and an energy that resonates and at the same time draws other people into the small details, around, out, in, and back again. It doesn't matter what elements are incorporated and it's perfectly fine to experiment far beyond the limits of reason.

In fact, crazy experiments are imperative.

Never refrain from daring to try something new. The moment you're stuck and don't really feel the work moving, on the contrary: dare!

Never let either good experiences or too many unfortunate mistakes stand in the way of trying something new. Learn from mistakes, and don't make the same ones over and over again, but also never be afraid to make new ones.

It is mistakes and coincidences that create the biggest surprises and breakthroughs.

"There is no wrong way to make art."

Never be afraid to be open, but afraid to fall back into your old habits and forget to look and listen.

Know that the world wants you well and that you were put in the world to let your creativity flourish and your light shine.

Relax and let it flow through you.

If I have taken one single point to heart, that's it.

I got to read a good part of The creative act in Crete, sitting on our veranda after the girls had gone to bed. Of course that didn't hurt my reading experience. Context is far from unimportant.

At the same time, I am fully aware that I will continuously reread the book; that, to the extent that I myself become more open and observant, the book will open new doors. Rereading it will always remind me of the Crete trip and take me back to that particular moment in time. But the context will also change and expand as time goes on and my perspective changes.

If the book reminds me of anything, it is probably first and foremost David Lynch's little Catching the big fish. Let that be a recommendation in itself and see to it that you read them both. (Note my last point: you read books, you don't consume them).

Rick Rubin: The creative act: a way of being

Hardback: 432 pages
Penguin Press (2023)

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