Elizabeth Gilbert on the Spiritual Source of Creativity

I don’t know a lot about Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love, but I just came across this TED talk she gave recently, and thought that her perspective on the creative process, inspiration, revelation, and artistic work was quite good, and which has a parallel understanding in Mormon culture and theology.  Gilbert argues that the genius that drives creative individuals does not come entirely from within the person, but from some unknown outside influence, and which has been referenced by many different names and labels through the ages.  Latter-day Saints will recognize it as the Spirit or Holy Ghost.

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About Bryce Haymond

Bryce grew up in Sandy, Utah, where he attended Jordan High School. He served a mission to the El Salvador San Salvador East mission, including eight months as mission financial secretary. Bryce graduated from Brigham Young University in 2007 in Industrial Design and a minor in Ballroom Dance. He loves all things Nibley and the temple, and is the founder of TempleStudy.com, and also blogs at BlackpoolCreative.com. Recently Bryce joined the Executive Board of The Interpreter Foundation, where he serves as a designer and technologist. Bryce has served in numerous Church callings including ward sunday school president, first counselor in the bishopric, and currently as temple and family history instructor. He is a Product Manager and Design Director at HandStands in Salt Lake City, and lives in Pleasant Grove, Utah, with his beautiful wife, three children, and another on the way!

7 thoughts on “Elizabeth Gilbert on the Spiritual Source of Creativity

  1. Interesting video, Bryce. I have heard other artists and authors describe the inspiration behind their works in much the same way Elizabeth Gilbert does here. I wonder, though, if we can attribute all artistic inspiration to the Spirit. I mean, does the Spirit really inspire someone like Rob Zombie? ;-) I love his music, but it’s a little hard when compared to Mo Tab.

  2. Thank you Bryce. I remember reading about an author (sorry cannot remember who), this author said she moved from one large city to another because her muse would not live in the previous city. I thought it funny, but realized that I write better on my laptop in the frontroom, rather than on the big computer in the kitchen. My muse likes red, quiet, and the view out the front window. My best rough drafts are written when I am tired, sick or medicated.

    Maybe Brian the muse is not righteous nor wicked. It just is.

  3. Maybe Brian the muse is not righteous nor wicked. It just is.

    I’m constantly trying to paint the world with a black and white brush. I need to stop that.

    I like your idea of the “muse”, JA. It just is. I like that.

  4. I think the Book of Mormon makes clear that Satan can whisper to us as easily as the Holy Ghost.

    The question is whether “just plain people”, who are neither God, nor his angels, nor Satan nor Satan’s angels, can also communicate from the other side of the veil. My take is that that question is pretty much off limits, and we should therefore categorize spiritual influences as black or white.

    People do report visits from angels, either resurrected or disembodied (haven’t been resurrected yet), who have specific messages or instructions in exceptional circumstances, and whose contact seems to be approved of, or originating with Heavenly Father. But I think it improper to actually seek them, as that goes into spiritualism.

    I’m not saying to ignore heavenly messengers, or righteous muses.

    But when listening to or seeing Heavy Metal, Punk, Thrash Rock, Scream Rock, Gangster Rap, it’s seems as though many of those “artists” are listening to muses from the dark side.

    Moroni gave a good black/white test. Is it good or bad? Does it prompt one to do good or bad? And for those things where what is prompted seems neutral, then the gift of discernment is needed to figure it out. One really needs to know _who_ is “speaking”.

    Wayne Dyer also talks some about these spiritual influences or muses.

    I sometimes wonder who exactly is guiding me in finding people who want a Book of Mormon. Does it always have to be the Holy Ghost? I haven’t figured it out. But, because following those promtpings leads to “good things”, I try to give God the credit, and ascribe the promptings to Him.

    I think Stephenie Meyer claims she was inspired rather forcefully about writing the Twilight series. I think that is a “good thing” as her books have inspired chastity and brought about interest in the church.

  5. Bookslinger. You are right of course. My definition of muse to be more specific and not poetic; is that muse is like TV. TV is neither good nor bad it is just a TV. What we choose to do with the TV; what channels we have programmed as favorites is the content we will recieve.

    Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Books are a perfect example. We all have our own experiences and differing opinions. Some see Bella and Edward as chaste and wholesome. I see their relationship to be a dangerous exampe to young women in particular. Bella and Edward’s relationship is unhealthy. Isolating herself from her family and friends Bella allows one to person to control her life. Twilight is a kind of porn for women. It sets up unreasonable expectations for women in the love department. Bella who sneaks her boyfriend up to her room so they can *cuddle in her underwear* is kinda scary.

  6. I only read the first book, back when it was first released. I read a review that said it was the new Harry Potter and for me Twilight wasn’t. What has seriously creeped me out are the grown women gushing over it and getting their daughters to read it. My 11 year old Jie Jie has friends who are reading Twilight at the behest of their mothers. GAG! When their daughters get older and get all wrapped up with some controlling guy, won’t communicate with mama and call it love, well Twilight would have been the shining example.

    PS sorry for the typos. I was sick this week. My normal excuse is arthritis and carpel tunnel.

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