Point Zero

I just read Point Zero: Creativity Without Limits by Michelle Cassou.

I liked it. I’m a little cautious about it though. Because Cassou seems to think she knows everything there is to know about True Creativity and how it works and where it comes from and where it’s going.

I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get a peek at how to do art just for its own sake — to just let images come out of you and onto the paper, receiving them yourself as they come, not planning and executing them according to a preconceived agenda. Such “getting out of the way and letting it happen” creation is tricky, and prone to creative “blocks,” and the book is all about resolving such blocks.

Points on which it agrees with what I had been thinking about artistic creativity from a mindful perspective:

  • It agrees that a minimal level of skill is not a sine qua non and that practiced expertise can have negative effects by locking you into preconceived ways of doing things.

  • It mistrusts preconceived plans and canned procedures.

  • It emphasizes process over product.

Points on which it disagrees:

  • Whereas Langer would say that the solution to mindless adherence to a particular way of looking at or doing things is to practice looking at or doing things in many different ways, from different perspectives, Cassou prefers trying to negate a given preconceived way of understanding things in order to move back past it to “Point Zero,” a place of all possibilities, where Creativity can show you the way to go on your Creative Quest.

I think that Cassou’s way of doing things is a way to promote mindful creativity; it is certainly dedicated to detecting and escaping mindlessness; but I think that it might be limiting on its own.

Still, a very good book for someone who wants to make their art something almost like a spiritual path, and a great guide if you want to really move in an original direction, following rather than leading your art.

Oh, Cassou’s first book, which I haven’t yet read, is Life, Paint, and Passion. At the end of Point Zero is a curious note to the effect that the partnership mentioned in Life, Paint and Passion has dissolved and each one has gone their separate way with their own philosophy. This makes me wonder what changed there and what happened to the partnership.