I love traveling. I love to watch people in other cities for how their behaviors differ from the places I know best. You can learn a lot from just being somewhere else. How do they view themselves? How do they view other cultures? How to they negotiate the borders between the two? For the same reason, I make sure to try at least one high-end restaurant as well as as many holes-in-the-wall as I can. What do different cultures view as bare-bones? What do they view as exotic?
In London, I tried a restaurant called Archipelago. Only the United Kingdom could have produced a restaurant that so catered to the imperialist in us all. It was “strange” food from all the “strange” places once under the Queen’s rule. But at the same time, it payed homage to those places. And it was delicious.
Though other cultures fill me to the brim creatively, their museums take me over the edge.
You’ll notice three kinds of people in museums. Window-shoppers, critics, and plunderers. I try to spend as much time in the third camp as possible, with one question at the forefront of my mind: “What does this inspire in me?”
Sometimes, the answer is a feeling. And it’s important to remember that feelings are always more complex than at first glance. If it’s fear, fear of what? Fear instead of what? Fear before and after what?
Sometimes, the answer is a place. It could be the place beyond the landscape you see before you. It could be the landscape a thousand years earlier or later. Or it could even be a place bearing no resemblance to the work, yet bearing some resonance in common.
Sometimes, the answer is a story. Book 8 of Deva Spark is inspired directly by Piranesi’s Carceri d’invenzione. While perusing the prints a few months ago, I saw Taylor traveling through a realm of a character exactly opposite her own without any means of escape. The whole book came to me in one tremendous burst of understanding.
But the the kind of inspiration I hope for is actually none of the above. Rather, I wish for the times when I come across a piece of art so transcendentally beautiful that I want to cry. That makes me think I’ll never produce something as spectacular. Because it’s exactly those works that inspire me to work harder, better, and longer with the hopes of some day getting there.
One such work, for me, is Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. It’s… just… wow.