A new paradigm of creativity can seem radically foreign. Full of “unnecessary” complexity, “opaque” jargon, and “perplexing” concepts including:
- How is “thinking outside the head”?
- How are we one with an environment, a “taskscape”?
Let’s demystify it all with a New York Times article by Tom Morello, the guitarist from Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, Atlas Underground, Prophets of Rage, et, al. about his creative process. It's an an illuminating example of creativity if we look carefully.
In the article Tom illustrates how creative ecosystems think in the midst of experimentation. Let’s dig into it!
First you practice your ass off:
“There was only one way to fulfill my calling. Practice my ass off… Every day. Without fail. Fever of 102, exam in the morning. Eight hours. Not seven hours and 56 minutes”
Why? Is it about competency? Skill?
Yes, that happens, but - that is not what is really happening he is becoming one with his instrument - not metaphorically but actually becoming a single extended unit. This is what it means to become a taskscape - to weave and co-evolve into a singular taskscape. The “I” now refers to more than the solitary individual. The right skills come much much later.
Then something disturbs the system:
“My playing transformed when I began to identify as the DJ, pundits were saying that the guitar was obsolete, because DJ’s could make any sound a guitar could make with samples. I took it upon myself to try to make DJ’s obsolete by making any sound they could make with my bare hands.”
Which required radically disrupting the classical taskspace of guitar based rock:
“By deconstructing the possibilities of that wood and wire, I took the first tentative steps to be an artist. The toggle switch, the tuning pegs, the power jack, every inch of the guitar became fair game for creating sound and texture.“
Notice how he is speaking from/as a taskscape as this challenge became an experimental test.
Now a new ecosystem is being made in the doing:
“Now my eight hours a day were spent practicing the eccentricities in my playing. Make a mistake? Repeat it 16 times and make it the cornerstone of the song.”
This novel emerging subjectivity brought with it new ways of seeing, sensing & connecting to the world beyond the old taskscape:
“And more and more I became inspired by sounds, and ideas, outside of rock’n roll: police helicopters, animal noises, sci-fi films. I began to find my own voice on the instrument and began forging a sonic vocabulary that was uniquely my own. The guitar was squealing, beeping, mooing!”
It’s an amazing example of new music emerging into the world. As you read his article we wonder - can you sense how underneath the standard conventions of how we speak about creativity something radically more interesting is happening?
Do you see yourself in Tom’s story? Where have you fused wholy with a taskspace & disrupted the SOP? We’d love to understand what you’re up to and have done. Please share your examples of creativity in the comments.