Letter Zero.51
Dear <<First Name>>, 

What’s your trick for defeating a creative block? When Trent Reznor gets stuck he reaches for a one-of-a-kind instrument called the luminist garden. 

The luminist garden is a wooden box with wires poking out of the top. The sound from the wires is amplified and regurgitated through feedback loops that are impossible to describe. You wouldn’t be blamed for mistaking the output for noise. 

You would think Trent would take the David Crosby approach and grab the best guitar he owns and hope that the expensive sound summons his muse. Instead, he grabs a tool that is impossible to master because it is essentially a randomness generator. Why would this work?

When you are trying to create something new all your old tricks will fail you because after you’ve attained a level of mastery of your instrument, technique and repetition are poor sources of inspiration. Mimicking the masters won’t satisfy you because you want to be original. The only place to go is into the unknown. You invite the randomness and chaos into your art and hope that you can find joy in the maelstrom. The new doesn’t live in the past in the library of what’s been done. To innovate means stepping into the chaos, into the noise in search of something that you've never seen, heard, or can even comprehend. Yet.

That’s why the luminist garden works. Trent has just enough control of the untamable instrument to give him the sense that he is still steering his creative destiny. He is chasing a muse, riding the edge of something that’s never been done. 

How do you beat creative block? Make some noise. Within the mess you’ll hear the signal. Follow it. I’ll write again soon. Stay creative.

Your friend,

P.S. You can hear Trent Reznor talk about the luminist garden on Song Exploder episode 124. And if you are looking for a rabbit hole to fall into, check out to see and hear other instruments created by Arius Blaze, the mad scientist artist who created the luminist garden. 
Copyright © 2021 Adrian Hanft, All rights reserved.

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