Streaking – Day 1: The Act of Creativity

No, I wonʻt be running through the college cafeteria sans raiment. This is an attempt to write consistently everyday, no matter how short the post. Today, like many days, Iʻm listening to the great improviser on the jazz piano, Keith Jarrett. This may sound sentimental, but my discovery of Keith Jarrett, at age 7 or so, was a complete revelation. My mother had a dubbed cassette of his now-classic Köln Concert. I popped it in the tape recorder and I remember thinking “how modern!” (This was in contrast to my motherʻs mainly classical record collection). I realized recently that he has been so much a part of my life, that I can scarcely imagine it without his music. Jarrettʻs improvised, and often ecstatic, concerts have created a cult following and gotten him ranked as the eight best jazz pianist of all time. Jarrett, if you think about it, composes, arranges, and performs simultaneously, which causes one to ask; how does creativity actually happen?

Iʻve been lax on posting here over the summer, so this question has been on my mind.


Jarrett once (and only once) played in Hawaiʻi – at UH – but for only a few minutes. As he was doing his thing – a meditative thing, one expects – a fan started shouting requests, and Jarrett said “I canʻt do this,” and walked off stage. Above is a video of the encore at a 1984 concert in Tokyo. When Miles Davis asked Jarrett how he did his magic, Jarrett replied “I donʻt know.” At one point, he got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which he interpreted as resulting from being the ventriliquist and dummy at the same time.

Vishen Lakhiani, author of The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, writes that the mind is ideally in an alpha state when accessing its creativity. Lakhiani holds that most of us are trapped in what he calls the culturescape of our society, which contains “brules” – bullshit rules that are outdated and should be dispensed with. Many artists report that their work is “not them” or not from them, but comes through them. This suggests somewhat that all, or at least many, people may be able to access such creativity if their minds can be put in the right state.

The extraordinary abilities of the average mind have become clear to me from Joshua Foerʻs book Moonwalking with Einstein, about developing an extraordinary memory.

220px-moonwalking_with_einsteinFoer went from an ʻaverageʻ memory to winning the US Memory Championship (yes such a thing exists). Beside the fact that I have an extremely good memory and am wondering what kind of potential may yet exist for me, Foer shows that an average mind may indeed have extreme potentialities.

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