Thursday, May 8, 2008

Spring Cleaning at FA...and beyond...

A couple of weeks ago, we did some Spring Cleaning here at FA. And it feels really good. Stuff we've dragged around for years got moved out - sold, given away, donated to charity or simply thrown out. The psychic/spiritual lifting of burdensome, and even oppressive, energy has naturally lead to embracing this Spring Cleaning as an appropriate metaphor for so much else that needs to happen in my life and mind.

It's amazing what we've been able to dig out of the nooks and crannies of our office. Equally amazing that it ever made it to this office at all given the number of times we've moved. But of course, so much of the stuff has ties to memories that have lead me to the nooks and crannies of my own mind. And in there is definitely a lot of junk there - along with some threads of gold that need to be spun into something creatively fulfilling.

However, it is not as easy to remove the junk from your brain as it is the junk in our office. Once it's is gone from the office, it is gone, never to be seen again. But mental/emotional baggage just goes underground and pops up at the most annoying times and informs your life in, sometimes, the most inconvenient ways.



Nonetheless, buried thoughts and obsessions are some of the best things to mine for story ideas and character detail. The things that lodge in your brain and refuse to leave can torture you personally, but enrich you creatively. And perhaps, that creative process may purge you of this otherwise useless psychological garbage dump. At the very least, it may allow us to shed light on these obsessive thoughts, habits and perceptions and maybe shift the balance of power around them. Meaning, rather than guiding our actions, they are servicing our creativity.

Or not. I've seen some creative types who simply spin deeper into their obsessions when they externalize them creatively. Their filmmaking then becomes fetishistic - which can be really compelling to a point. But real art is not fetishism. Real art, to my mind, has a level of observation, clarity and (for lack of a better word) truth that makes fetishistic creativity seem like passing fancy.

Either way, better to dig into the nooks and crannies of your brain and make use of what's there even if you insist on keeping it and/or fetishizing it. How do we do this? Through simple observation and awareness - which is not so simple for some people. They are plagued with so much self-loathing and self-judgement that they cannot even begin to look at themselves lest they generate all kinds of hateful opinions about what they see. Don't get me wrong, creatives are often as self-loathing as they come, but rather than simply sit with that energy, we are driven to explore it and, often, integrate it into our work - as well as the things that we believe generate that self-loathing.

I, for one, find I have so many odd neuroses and strange thoughts that I most certainly would have been straight-jacketed years ago if I hadn't found a way to make those things a compelling element of my dinner conversations....and, of course, my filmmaking.

In the end, Spring Cleaning literally and metaphorically is less about purging all your junk than it is about simply throwing open all the closets, cabinets, hidden drawers and trap doors and taking stock of what's there. If you occasionally do that with your mind, you will find, like we did at the FA Office, there is much of value hidden away there. The things that once weighed you down psychologically, can lift you up creatively.

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