Are you capable of creating something extraordinary? Just you, with your shallow genes and average grades? According to Brian Eno, yes.
I first encountered this piece a few years ago. Here is What is. A film about the production process, from someone I respect immensely: music producer Daniel Lanois. The guy who’s name becomes familiar when you study the notes on definitive albums like Bob Dylan’s Time out of Mind, or Emmylou Harris’ Wrecking Ball, or U2’s Joshua Tree. Peter Gabriel’s So. etc.
The producer role’s very close to the role we play as creative directors. Often brokering an idea into reality, working with other people’s ideas, letting other people make the work…assembling teams around ideas. Knowing how to make something great, or what needs to remain in order for it to stay great.
But that’s not what this is about.
This is about about the idea itself.
And where it originates.
No doubt you’ve heard the hackneyed expression, ‘An idea can come from anywhere’.
But what about a great idea? What about a magnificent idea?
“Beautiful things grow out of shit” – Brian Eno
“What would be really interesting to see [in your film] is how beautiful things grow out of shit. Because nobody ever believes that. Everybody thinks that Beethoven had his string quartets completely in his head—they’d somehow appeared there and formed in his head—before he, and all he had to do was write them down and they would kind of be manifest to the world. But I think what’s so interesting, and what would really be a lesson that everybody should learn is that things come out of nothing, things evolve out of nothing.
If you walk around with the idea that there are some people who are so gifted—they have these wonderful things in their head, but you’re not one of them, you’re just sort of a normal person, you could never do anything like that—then you live a different kind of life. You could have another kind of life, where you can say, ‘well, I know that things come from nothing very much, and start from unpromising beginnings, and I’m an unpromising beginning, and I could start something.’”
You know, the tiniest seed in the right situation turns into the most beautiful forest, and then the most promising seed in the wrong situation turns into nothing. And I think this would be important for people to understand, because it gives people confidence in their own lives to know that that’s how things work.
Brian Eno, from the film and album “Here is What Is” by Daniel Lanois