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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

god the artist

We talk about artists as creative geniuses, but what do we really mean by that? The best artists are not the ones who exercise absolute, teeth-gritting control over their medium. Rather, the best artists are those who see a work of art beginning to take shape, and are able to exercise just the right amount of control to let the art have its own way. The true artist serves the work of art, and not vice versa. This shows up differently in different artistic media, but the underlying principle is the same. A good painter will use what others would call an accidentally misplaced brush stroke as a source of inspiration. A novelist will exclaim with delight that her characters have run away with the plot. A jazz musician taps into the random quantum fluctuations of his own brain in order to improvise. A game designer will purposefully design games in which polyhedral random number generators are used. Also known as dice.

So why do we hold God to a lower artistic standard? Some folks seem to think that if God used random evolution to create people, he must have been holding his nose while he did it. I don't think so. Einstein himself said that God doesn't roll dice. But he was wrong. And in fact, anyone who has played role-playing games knows that God probably had to roll quite a few dice to come up with a character like Einstein. :-)

It is part of the artistic genius of God that he invented an artistic medium like the universe, a universe in which evolution could happen, a universe in which characters could run away with the plot. I think God delights in how the universe works. He even said as much: "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."

- Larry Wall, The Culture of Perl

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At 7/06/2008 4:19 AM, Blogger Dr.John said...

A very interesting insight. I have an artist friend I will have to direct here.

At 9/06/2008 9:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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