ZE: What have you learned from self-expression, whether chosen by you or imposed upon you?
It was better when I chose it. When it was imposed on me, I often did not enjoy it and felt I had been taken prisoner, often by a hostile force. These questions are hard to answer, as I bottle stuff up inside. Even people like me feel emotion, but we feel it in our minds more than in our bodies. My theory is that running from your feelings is the problem. I work in mental health, and increasingly I tell my clients to just accept their feelings and quit trying to run from them. If you feel sad, say, “Thank God for that feeling!” and sit there and be with it. The universe is about 1/2 sadness, and that’s on a good day! You may as well sit down and be alone with the sadness of life and the world, which is quite ample. Just be OK with it. Life is sad. That’s fine. That’s part of the experience of being here. People panic when they are sad. My best friend is a young woman. She calls me up panicked that she is feeling sad, as if it is a terrible thing. So she wants to run from it. But that doesn’t seem to work. Say I had a client who was in a bad marriage and getting ready to leave his wife. He feels guilty for being a bad father, for leaving his son, for all sorts of things. Normally therapists will tell you to stop thinking that, as it is irrational, but the thing is, you tell people that, and they are going to go ahead and feel it anyway. So I tell would him to just sit there and be OK with those feelings. I would say, “Well there is a part of you that feels a need to have these feelings. Just sit there and have those feelings and be OK with them. I think after some time, you will get these feelings out of your system, and you might even get sick of them. I don’t want you to feel this way for too long – say five years would be too long – but you need to feel this way for so me time – even up to one to four years I would be OK with you just experiencing that as part of the process and then finally moving on.” But the role of originality in creativity, I would say that to some extent they are one and the same. But the original thought is more your own as opposed something truly sui generis. And you borrow all the original thoughts you want to. And while you’re at it, you can borrow all the creativity you want to also. You don’t even have to pay to rent or buy ideas, concepts, metaphors, turns or phrase, figures of speech or even jokes and laugh lines. Just go ahead and steal em. Come on, just do it! Look around, make sure no one is looking, and nab that cute turn of phrase. Stick it in your pocket real fast before the Thought Police can figure out what you did. Now move away quickly and stash that fancy little phrase in some safe place wherever you store your stolen verbal material. I would suggest a locked briefcase. You can try to put them in your mind, but lately just about everything I store up there seems to get lost somehow, but that might not be a good idea. You can’t copyright words! Or phrases! Or even sentences, really. You certainly cannot copyright or patent concepts, ideas, theories or notions. It’s all up for grabs. I assume that the capitalists are going to try to figure out a way to copyright or patent all this stuff just so the sick fucks can make a buck off it, but in the meantime, it’s mostly up for grabs. Plagiarism is not illegal, but it’s a career killer. I would advise to tread cautiously, but trust me, we writers steal stuff all the time. You have to be very careful how you do it, and when it comes to famous or popular works, you just steal a tiny bit here and there, better yet completely unconsciously. We all gather information from everywhere all the time. We do not have to go around crediting everyone we grabbed some idea from. I sure as Hell don’t. Incidentally this is part of creativity and originality. Grabbing stuff from other people. Look, there are not a whole lot of new ideas floating around. Humans have been thinking, talking and especially writing stuff down for 2,000 years. Hence almost all creativity, even most originality, is more or less rehash, but that’s the whole idea of it really. Just don’t steal too brazenly and you’ll be fine. The truly great thinker is running about grabbing great ideas from as many people as possible in as many places as he can. He can then elaborate on them if he wishes or squirrel them away in which case, as long as he can recall them, he can rehash them, add or subtract to them, mix them with other ideas in all sorts of ways or combine them with other ideas to form new theories, patterns, ways of seeing, conceptualizations and especially overarching pattern-theories, which I call “putting it all together” and “seeing the big picture.” Otherwise known as “wisdom.”