Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

The intensity of the wish

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To work on an idea does not mean intellectual concentration of the usual kind. No sweating here will do. A prayerful solitude with a dash of austerity in the daily routine is necessary; then, what Tyndall, describing the production of inventions, called “brooding,” and what Newton called “thinking of it all the time.” It seems as if the earnest wish to get at the whole thing should be the chief thing, acting, of course, on our subconsciousness. The experience of most artists is that the quality of their production is in keeping with the intensity of their wish. As I said before, Sir Walter Scott reading books with no relevance whatever to his subjects, or Charles Dickens rambling through the deserted streets at night, was trying to retard rather than hasten what we call clear thought, but which ought to be called final thought. Real work, real brooding consist in peopling the mind with congenial images, sometimes called in by our desire, sometimes-conjured up from our memories gone over at random rather than methodically. When the light comes at last, as full as we can expect it ever to be, whatever we do, do not let us map out what we have discovered in the shape of a synopsis. Numbering and brackets are too unlike thought ever to revive its first appearance.

Ernest Dimnet, The Art of Thinking

Written by nevalalee

May 14, 2017 at 7:30 am

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