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Bob Dylan on Sacrifice, the Unconscious Mind, and How to Cultivate the Perfect Environment for Creative Work

Too many songs

Dylan makes a seemingly controversial statement when he states that the world doesn't need any more songs. There are enough songs, "unless someone's gonna come along with a pure heart and has something to say. That's a different story."

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Bob Dylan on Sacrifice, the Unconscious Mind, and How to Cultivate the Perfect Environment for Creative Work

Bob Dylan on Sacrifice, the Unconscious Mind, and How to Cultivate the Perfect Environment for Creative Work

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/05/21/bob-dylan-songwriters-on-songwriting-interview/

brainpickings.org

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Key Ideas

The greatest poet

Van Morrison once characterized Bob Dylan as the greatest living poet.
Pete Seeger said that the unmistakable elegance in Dylan's words has an almost biblical beauty that has sustained his songs throughout the years.

An optimal frame of mind

Like many creators, Dylan values that unconscious aspect of creativity.

Dylan states that his best songs are those which were written very, very, very quickly. In order to do that, one must stay in the unconscious frame of mind. This optimal frame of mind can be aided by an environment that brings something out in you that you want to be brought out. Dylan states that it is a contemplative, reflective thing.

Sort through your thoughts

Dylan explains that there are two kinds of thoughts in your mind: there are good and evil thoughts. If you want to be a songwriter, you must sort through those thoughts, because they are meaningless and just pull you around. Then you can extract yourself from your thoughts and survey it in a way that can't affect you.

Too many songs

Dylan makes a seemingly controversial statement when he states that the world doesn't need any more songs. There are enough songs, "unless someone's gonna come along with a pure heart and has something to say. That's a different story."

Good entertainers

Dylan seems to regard “popular entertainers” with a certain degree of contempt and mistrust.

He explains that to become a rare exception worthy of true creative respect takes talent and a whole lot of sacrifice and dedication.

Dylan on Poets

"Poets don’t drive cars. Poets don’t go to the supermarket. Poets don’t empty the garbage... Poets don’t even talk to anybody. Poets do a lot of listening ...

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Sesame Street
Sesame Street

Before Sesame Street, music wasn't even considered as a means to teach children. But Sesame Street changed that and proved that kids are very receptive to a grammar lesson contained in a song.

Musical stars

Big-name stars lined up to make guest appearances. Stevie Wonder and Grover; Loretta Lynn and the Count; Smokey Robinson and a marauding letter U. "Sesame Street" also showcased Afro-Caribbean rhythms, operatic powerhouses, Latin beats, Broadway showstoppers, and bebop.

Now, after 4,526 episodes, the legacy is evident: It impacted the music world as much as it shaped TV history, inspiring fans and generations of artists.

The goal

The aim of "Sesame Street" was to build school preparedness and narrow the educational gap between lower- and upper-income children.

They used pedagogy advice from a Harvard professor. Research also showed children were more receptive when they watched with caregivers, so celebrities were introduced.

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Restrict yourself

Research suggests placing self-imposed limitations can boost creativity. 

It forces your brain to come up with creative solutions to finish a project around the parameters you’ve ...

Re-conceptualize the problem

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If you find yourself stagnating by focusing on generic problems, try to re-conceptualize the problem by focusing on a more meaningful angle.

For example: Instead of thinking “What would be something cool to paint?” rather ask, “What sort of painting evokes the feeling of loneliness that we all encounter after a break-up?”

Create psychological distance

Creating “psychological” distance may be useful for breaking through a creative block.

Try to imagine your creative task as being disconnected and distant from your current position/location - this may make the problem more accessible and can encourage higher level thinking.

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4 Stages of Creative Control
  • Preparation: you’re learning everything you can about the problem.
  • Incubation: you’re allowing your unconscious mind to work on the problem.
  • Illumination: ...
Creative work categories
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