On quiet types and creativity

As I’ve nosed around niches, I’ve been lucky to meet some fascinating shadowy-coder types (hat tip to Liz Warren) here and there. As a seeker of clarity, in a preface to convos with elusives I tend to say: You’re in control of the privacy settings. Such respect and regard can be natural among private persons, a bit rare as we may be these days; it also gets me thinking about my experience of that terrain.

From age 7 to 18 I was an athlete propelled by a zealous drive that mystified those around me. I performed and won at national and even international levels in front of crowds, yet was somehow at the same time a total introvert about whom few knew much. The kind of ease I’d found with public and private selves in sport in no way whatsoever translated to art, because by nature the creative self is our true self and can’t be split. When I began making art at age 20, it was extraordinarily difficult to even begin to share such dimensions of my experience publicly — as an endearing example, I managed to catch myself on fire before my solo thesis show in college — and this journey is certainly not complete. With creativity there’s a different order of distinction altogether between what is and isn’t said, because the mystery itself, which is our only subject, can never be spoken directly. I adore the writing of W. G. Sebald, a deeply private man and among the most incandescent of novelists. In The Rings of Saturn it’s as if with each sentence he gradually builds two books, the spare elegance of what’s written and the ever more expansive space he sculpts, with an unmatched dexterity, of all that isn’t. As we learn in meditation, firm banks make room for great rivers to flow.