It's a street in a strange world
Maybe it's the Third World
Maybe it's his first time around
He doesn't speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterlings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says Amen! and Hallelujah!
From You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon
If you read my blog last week, Paul Simon, The Rhythm Poet, you can tell I haven't quite let go of my recent concert experience. As I was doing research for that blog, I came across an interview with Paul Simon that really spoke to me. As an artist, Simon talks about the concept of flow where sometimes the music and words come to him easily, and other times he works and works over a period of time to complete a song.
Now please take almost 5 minutes to watch this clip now, and I'll share my take on the other side.
What struck me about Paul Simon's curiosity with his own creative process describes how all of us are similarly capable of creativity in our own way and not just reserved for artists or people identified as gifted.
I'm not one to believe that God is directly providing that 'spark' of thought, but rather, through our own experiences we are all able to cognitively channel and engage our brains to create something new.
Paul's line, "He sees angels in the architecture" is for me a metaphor for that spark of thought framed around the idea and/or thing you are creating. The creating itself is thoughtful but is sometimes coupled with a 'spirituality' of goodness that is coming from some place to you and through you.
I found a similar passage from an excellent blog by Shannon Rusk, apply titled, Angels in the Architecture.
I prefer to consider the expression a metaphor. Because I do believe that architecture, and by turns its architects, have the ability to do good, or otherwise. But for me the angels in the architecture are not winged creatures or other beautiful details and careful ornamentation. Rather, I see the angels as being the experiences and emotions and connections that architecture, at its best, can enrich and facilitate for those people who live their lives within and around it. They can be something that architects deliberately design for, or they can happen just by chance, or as a result of the way people choose to use or adapt the building.
I've come to learn two things about creativity. One, you create the conditions for your own 'flow' as angels in the architecture within the structure you're building. Secondly, your flow is sustained through your embrace of the process of iteration as 'the devil is in the details.'
Iteration is the act of repeating a process, either to generate an unbounded sequence of outcomes, or with the aim of approaching a desired goal, target or result. Each repetition of the process is also called an "iteration", and the results of one iteration are used as the starting point for the next iteration. Wikipedia
This creativity ying-yang of flow and details is a wonderful loop of inspiration and pace. For me, Paul Simon's work has always had a spiritual quality that has touched my soul deeply over the years. I guess what I appreciate now more than ever is the beauty and craft in the making of his songs.
As a student and young person, when it came to writing, I was a one and done draft with little regard for the process of editing. It's taken me a bit longer, but I've learned to love and embrace the 'rewrite.' Paul Simon would know something about that.