Friday, December 09, 2005

Curiosity killed the cat and what else does it do

From Robert Genn
Curious morning syndrome

At the risk of once more dividing the world into two main kinds
of people, there are two main kinds of people: There are those
who amuse themselves, and those who require others to amuse
them. It's been my experience that artists are pretty much of
the former kind. In their self-amusement, they're apt to be

Mornings can have special significance for these folks. They
don't need to stay in bed awaiting the amusements to
arrive--they're already there. They simply need to step into
the amusement area. For many artists, "Curious Morning
Syndrome," or CMS, primes the pump for productivity and
success. The blessing, of course, is not always evident to the
young. Sleeping-in has ruined many an early career. And some
folks must wait until middle or old age for CMS to kick in.
Some think it's a gene. I think it's a habit. I had to learn

It's a matter of setting yourself up to be curious about the
outcome and potential of yesterday's efforts. Always leave
something unfinished when you shut down the studio at night.
Better still, leave several things unfinished. The easier, the
more enjoyable the task, the more the likelihood of an early
morning kick-off. At the same time, difficult challenges and
problematic passages are often best attacked when you are well
rested and fresh. While many work well late into the night, the
cold grey light of dawn presents opportunities to the prepared
worker. Surprises are uncommonly common to the curious at all
times. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it has been
responsible for birthing a lot of art. "How is this going to
turn out?" is an essential question that an artist must ask.
Curiosity tramples drudgery and fires up improvisation.
Curiosity sets the hands and mind in motion. Self-amusement
becomes the "muse."

Every day is a new birth and a metaphor for life--a relentless
carousel with a joyous song and a view for every rotation. CMS
is not just a matter of getting into the work area before the
telephones of normal business hours begin to jingle. CMS means
allowing your own unique "owned processes" to draw you there.
Thus the miracle of creativity is regularly reborn. To see your
world, your studio and the things of your hands within it,
first thing, like a child, with baby eyes.

Best regards,

PS: "The child is curious. He wants to make sense out of
things, find out how things work, gain competence and control
over himself and his environment, and do what he can see other
people doing. He is open, perceptive, and experimental." (John

Esoterica: It's also been my observation that artists who allow
themselves to be dependent on others don't thrive in the same
way that the independent ones do. Part of the reason is that
dependent people often don't seem to have enough time for an
inner life and private curiosity. Furthermore, it looks to me
like the independents are the most alive, the most
experimental, and often the most productive. Some of them are
quiet, but they are not bored, nor are they boring. In the
words of journalist Ellen Parr: "The cure for boredom is
curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."

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