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Rick Rubin

Gnomic wisdom on the creative process

Published by Canongate, 432 pages, £25

Date:

28th March 2023

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The Creative Act: A way of being

Rubin sets out his stall modestly at first, commenting in his prefatory prose poem of an intro: “Some ideas may resonate, others may not.” But by the end of these few lines he claims his words may be “Opening possibilities for a new way of being.” We can’t complain as the sub-head did advise that big swirly thoughts were on the way. We should expect no less of this multi-awarded record producer, co-founder of Def Jam records, collaborator and transformer of a whole host of legendary talents. Now he has condensed his decades of learning about the creative process into 79 short, wide-ranging, highly readable chapters in The Creative Act: A way of being. No images, zero eye candy, unless you are fortunate to get a signed copy and have Rick’s generous signature, as shown. If you persevere with the text, floating through topics such as The Unseen, Nature As Teacher, Greatness, and Surrounding The Lightning Bolt, you will have a good sense of how Rick Rubin sees the world. But if you think creative enlightenment will come your way, you may be disappointed. Like many a spiritual guide, what seems like easy clear messages turn out to be extremely hard to get any grip on and put into practice. Rick’s a shaman who seems to vanish into the space within his own signature. This is not to be critical though, just preparatory. Enjoy the book for endless dipping, as it is full of gnomic wisdom that just might get you thinking afresh, perhaps even doing the creative act a little differently. Nothing to lose but your chains. Or a bit of time, now and then.

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The Creative Act: A way of being

Rubin sets out his stall modestly at first, commenting in his prefatory prose poem of an intro: “Some ideas may resonate, others may not.” But by the end of these few lines he claims his words may be “Opening possibilities for a new way of being.” We can’t complain as the sub-head did advise that big swirly thoughts were on the way. We should expect no less of this multi-awarded record producer, co-founder of Def Jam records, collaborator and transformer of a whole host of legendary talents. Now he has condensed his decades of learning about the creative process into 79 short, wide-ranging, highly readable chapters in The Creative Act: A way of being. No images, zero eye candy, unless you are fortunate to get a signed copy and have Rick’s generous signature, as shown. If you persevere with the text, floating through topics such as The Unseen, Nature As Teacher, Greatness, and Surrounding The Lightning Bolt, you will have a good sense of how Rick Rubin sees the world. But if you think creative enlightenment will come your way, you may be disappointed. Like many a spiritual guide, what seems like easy clear messages turn out to be extremely hard to get any grip on and put into practice. Rick’s a shaman who seems to vanish into the space within his own signature. This is not to be critical though, just preparatory. Enjoy the book for endless dipping, as it is full of gnomic wisdom that just might get you thinking afresh, perhaps even doing the creative act a little differently. Nothing to lose but your chains. Or a bit of time, now and then.

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