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Mars - Le mois de la poésie

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Mary Oliver: The Artist’s Task

It is a silver morning like any other. I am at my desk. Then the phone rings, or someone raps at the door. I am deep in the machinery of my wits. Reluctantly I rise, I answer the phone or I open the door. And the thought which I had in hand, or almost in hand, is gone. Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart — to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.

But just as often, if not more often, the interruption comes not from another but from the self itself, or some other self within the self, that whistles and pounds upon the door panels and tosses itself, splashing, into the pond of meditation. And what does it have to say? That you must phone the dentist, that you are out of mustard, that your uncle Stanley’s birthday is two weeks hence. You react, of course. Then you return to your work, only to find that the imps of idea have fled back into the mist.

The world sheds, in the energetic way of an open and communal place, its many greetings, as a world should. What quarrel can there be with that? But that the self can interrupt the self — and does — is a darker and more curious matter.

Certainly there is within each of us a self that is neither a child, nor a servant of the hours. It is a third self, occasional in some of us, tyrant in others. This self is out of love with the ordinary; it is out of love with time. It has a hunger for eternity.

Say you have bought a ticket on an airplane and you intend to fly from New York to San Francisco. What do you ask of the pilot when you climb aboard and take your seat next to the little window, which you cannot open but through which you see the dizzying heights to which you are lifted from the secure and friendly earth?

Most assuredly you want the pilot to be his regular and ordinary self. You want him to approach and undertake his work with no more than a calm pleasure. You want nothing fancy, nothing new. You ask him to do, routinely, what he knows how to do — fly an airplane. You hope he will not daydream. You hope he will not drift into some interesting meander of thought. You want this flight to be ordinary, not extraordinary. So, too, with the surgeon, and the ambulance driver, and the captain of the ship. Let all of them work, as ordinarily they do, in confident familiarity with whatever the work requires, and no more. Their ordinariness is the surety of the world. Their ordinariness makes the world go round.

In creative work — creative work of all kinds — those who are the world’s working artists are not trying to help the world go around, but forward. Which is something altogether different from the ordinary. Such work does not refute the ordinary. It is, simply, something else. Its labor requires a different outlook — a different set of priorities.

No one yet has made a list of places where the extraordinary may happen and where it may not. Still, there are indications. Among crowds, in drawing rooms, among easements and comforts and pleasures, it is seldom seen. It likes the out-of-doors. It likes the concentrating mind. It likes solitude. It is more likely to stick to the risk-taker than the ticket-taker. It isn’t that it would disparage comforts, or the set routines of the world, but that its concern is directed to another place. Its concern is the edge, and the making of a form out of the formlessness that is beyond the edge.

Of this there can be no question — creative work requires a loyalty as complete as the loyalty of water to the force of gravity. A person trudging through the wilderness of creation who does not know this — who does not swallow this — is lost. He who does not crave that roofless place eternity should stay at home. Such a person is perfectly worthy, and useful, and even beautiful, but is not an artist. Such a person had better live with timely ambitions and finished work formed for the sparkle of the moment only. Such a person had better go off and fly an airplane.

The working, concentrating artist is an adult who refuses interruption from himself, who remains absorbed and energized in and by the work — who is thus responsible to the work… Serious interruptions to work, therefore, are never the inopportune, cheerful, even loving interruptions which come to us from another.

It is six A.M., and I am working. I am absentminded, reckless, heedless of social obligations, etc. It is as it must be. The tire goes flat, the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written. I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame. Neither do I have guilt. My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely. It does not include mustard, or teeth. It does not extend to the lost button, or the beans in the pot. My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive. If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.

There is no other way work of artistic worth can be done. And the occasional success, to the striver, is worth everything. The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.


From Upstream: Selected Essays. Copyright 2016 Mary Oliver. Quoted in BrainPickings.

@1984 et @Cheval, j'ai pensé à vous en le relisant, bien que pas toujours pour les mêmes raisons. :3

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@RetromantiqueSuper nice. Pourquoi pas les mêmes raisons ? 

C'est vrai que creer demande une total abdication, à la limite du religieux. Après se porte en soi un sentiment d'éveil, la sensation d'avoir été touché par la grâce. 

L'état de flow amène cette grâce. 


Ce concept, élaboré par le psychologue Mihály Csíkszentmihályi à partir de 1975, a été utilisé dans de nombreux domaines, du sport à la musique en passant par la spiritualité, l'éducation et la séduction[1], bien qu'il ait existé depuis toujours sous d'autres formes, notamment dans les religions et spiritualités orientales telles que le bouddhisme et le taoïsme.

Atteindre le flow se dit aussi « être dans la zone ». Dans les versions françaises des textes de Csíkszentmihályi, on trouve indifféremment les termes de « flux », d'« expérience-flux », d'« expérience optimale » ou de « néguentropie psychique[2] ».

Selon Csíkszentmihályi, le flow est un état totalement centré sur la motivation. C'est une immersion totale, qui représente peut-être l'expérience suprême, employant les émotions au service de la performance et de l'apprentissage. Dans le flow, les émotions ne sont pas seulement contenues et canalisées, mais en pleine coordination avec la tâche s'accomplissant. Le trait distinctif du flow est un sentiment de joie spontané, voire d'extase pendant une activité.

En français, on emploie parfois, au sens profane, l'expression état de grâce, par exemple lors d'une prise de fonction ou d'un oral d'examen : les situations comme les actions à effectuer semblent alors se présenter de façon très claire.

Le flow possède beaucoup de similitudes avec l'état d'hyper-concentration, tout au moins en ce qui concerne ses aspects positifs.

Bien à toi Retro

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Ç'aurait été plus clair si j'avais inclus la partie précédant cette prose dans son recueil. Elle parle de la partie enfant en nous. Ça c'est la partie qui m'a fait pensé spécifiquement à @Cheval, alors que pour toi c'était parce que tu avais disparu un moment pour mieux piocher. :*

Et effectivement, il semble s'agir du flow! J'ai connu ce feeling-là le plus quand je prenais des promenades solitaires. 

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Bon point de @1984

Je remarque que j'ai deux flow qui sont contrairement opposé. Celui du jour et celui de la nuit. Par exemple, mon enfant intérieur joue le jour et la nuit c'est évidemment le démembrement des corps orgiaques. 


Il y a 2 heures, Retromantique a dit :

J'ai connu ce feeling-là le plus quand je prenais des promenades solitaires. 

C'est quand même dingue la marche. C'est si peu, mais quand tu l'oublie et que tu y reviens tu réalises combien c'est essentiel.

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  • xdrox a libéré ce sujet
  • 1 mois plus tard...

Des fans de Neil Gaiman ici?


IN TRANSIT (for Arthur Eddington) 
by Neil Gaiman


To find the many in the one
he sweated under foreign skies
to see the stars behind the sun.

So space and time were now undone
reality was undisguised.
We found the many in the one.

There is no photograph, not one,
that shows the mind behind the eyes.
He saw the stars behind the sun.

Not with a sword, or knife, or gun,
a simple picture severed ties.
He found the many in the one.

Light bends around us. So we run,
as gravity reclassifies
the stars we saw behind the sun.

To see the world beyond the skies,
to know the mind behind the eyes,
To find the many in the one
he showed us stars behind the sun.


Unfucked, or anyway retiring,
in the awkward sense. Retirement will never be an option.
The gruff gentleman with the cap who understands
what the numbers mean
remembers a bicycle ride when he was younger.

The smoke of the cigarettes he does not smoke kicks at his lungs
mixing with the buzz of the booze he doesn’t ever drink
a convivial pint after the ride into the country gave him such a thirst.
And afterwards they lay on their back in the stubble
staring up at the stars. Together. All the stars

Countable as the words in a Bible,
countable as the hairs on his friend’s head,
all accountable, and that is why they never truly touched.
The shadow of prison or disgrace perhaps moving between them
like the shadow of an eclipse.

And, in another life, at another time,
to see the stars behind the sun,
he takes his photographs
fighting the cloud cover. Becoming
the thing that happened in Principe.
when he proved that the German was right,
that light had weight,
half a year after the Armistice.
A populariser, but not courting popularity.

Somewhen a boy is counting stars.
Somewhen a man is photographing light.
Somewhen his finger strokes the stubble on another’s cheek,
and for a moment everything is relative.

C’est la goutte qui fait déborder le vase, il m’est maintenant impératif de m’essayer à lire de sa littérature.

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