Working Towards Inspiration, Rather Than From It

Maria Popova over at Brain Pickings has a wondrous post on inspiration and the “generative power of not-knowing” as relayed by Nobel Laureate Wisława Szymborska.

What I find wondrous about it is that it reveals inspiration, not as a starting point for one’s work but as a culmination of it that both expands one’s sense of self and allows space for more unknown possibilities.

This is revealed by a quote by Ann Hamilton who emphasizes we work from “what we know to what we don’t know.”

One doesn’t arrive — in words or in art — by necessarily knowing where one is going. In every work of art something appears that does not previously exist, and so, by default, you work from what you know to what you don’t know.

Ann Hamilton

And Wisława Szymborska indicates inspiration is a continuous “I don’t know” which coupled with Ann’s earlier quote means we’re working towards inspiration.

A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous “I don’t know.”

Wisława Szymborska

And it is this inspiration—which we are working towards—that expands our sense of self and life as a whole.

This is why I value that little phrase “I don’t know” so highly. It’s small, but it flies on mighty wings. It expands our lives to include the spaces within us as well as those outer expanses in which our tiny Earth hangs suspended.

Wisława Szymborska

This mirrors as a whole with why I’ve placed inspiration at the end of the process of social creativity (ie connecting, empowering, inspiring) rather than at the start of it. It is because it is the inspiration you are creatively working towards with regards to your work.

And it is the completed inspiration which inspires and connects with someone else, starting the creative process within them which can only be completed when they themselves complete the inspiration of their own work they are working towards.

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