06 September 2016

[creativity] D.I.Y. Magic: Every Person Their Own Wizard

It seems a truism that a key to creativity can be upsetting your normal flow, forcing yourself to look at the ordinary in an extraordinary way, and it could sort  of indirectly follow from that that there is magic in the creative act, depending on how one looks at it. Certainly creation of something that wasn't there before is a sort of sorcery, when one considers the moving effect of art and anoints the artist the title of magician.

Anthony Alvarado (who we met at Linework 2 years back and who we got this clever little book from) has done a massively clever thing here. He has taken a range of techniques for hacking ones' own creative process and used the paradigm of the magic spell to create a grimoire for the creative mind, filled with adventures to take the creative soul on.

If the book D.I.Y. Magic: A Strange and Whimiscal Guide to Creativity would seem to take a lot on itself, it may be helpful, going in, to know that Alvarado encourages you to define the idea of magic as you see fit. This paragraph, in the Introduction, gives the reader a handle to grab regardless of what they may concieve of the supernatural:
The truth is we have all practiced a form of magic at one time, when we were children seeing images in the passing clouds. Remember lying on your back and watching faces appear in the sky? A puff of cumulus becomes the eye of some creature that melts into an alligator's, nose and then becomes fantastic dogs, castles, angels, cartoons of people and animals that waltz from one form to another. Images can also be seen in the hot coals of a fire, in the grain of wood beams, and on the surface of rippling water. The phenomenon is surely the reason why primitive man saw himself surrounded on all sides by the elemental spirits of all things - the sprites, nymphs, dryads, and sylphs of forest, river, and fire. And wasn't he richer for it? Now, of course we know better! But I propose that these same faculties lay dormant within us.
Alvarado's reliance on the paradigm of the magician casting spells and cantrips, then, is his clever and excellently effective way to remix that point of view and quite a few things you may have heard of, do a bit of alchemy on them, and come up with a new thing that makes nudging your creative self back into wakefulness as much or as little of an adventure as you want it to be, and expects you to define your magic your way, not his or anyone else's.

A good example is the cantrip for manifestation (a cantrip, he explains, is any spell that is quick and easy to do). The tools required are optimism, positivity, and and awareness of the ideas that you project upon reality, and the only thing it requires you to do is look at the world though that lens. If you were of a Buddhist bent, you'd probably say you were practicing mindfulness; a more spiritual sort might see it as the law of attraction; a more practical person would just think of it as paying attention. Using a positive outlook and letting your ideas guide you, for the few minutes that you do this, you'll be looking at the world in terms of what you expect or hope to see, and it doesn't seem unreasonable to assume that you'll see more or less appropriate things as relate to whatever idea is informing you.

The book touches on quite a few concepts that you, me, and everyone else who's chased enhanced creativity have probably run across, but he remixes them into small adventures for the creative heart. A coin flip becomes an adventure in the good kind of chaos when you flip it and follow your intuition about which side came up, making your decision without ever actually looking at the coin. A tarot deck becomes a mind map when you make up your own trumps using whatever symbols you want and decide for yourself what they mean.

There are also some advanced experiments that require a bit of thought and preparation, but the book seems founded on the proposition that if a process doesn't speak to you, you aren't obliged to do it.

It's a delightful book even to leaf through and consider if you don't try anything, just meditate on the clever way he's taken a great deal of material on altering your perceptions to take advantage of the creative chaos within and made of it a whole new thing.

It's at least inspirational, and what creative doesn't need inspiring now and again?

Publisher: Perigee/Penguin
ISBN: 978-0-399-17179-6
US Retail Price:$15.00
Anthony's website is https://anthonyalvarado.net/

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