Rosamond Wolff Purcell

D.A. Blyler wrote the Seven Vices of Highly Creative People in reaction to the grumbling he was hearing about people working in offices where Stephen Covey’s bestseller The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People had been implemented. Personally, I’ve found Covey’s book to be strangely unreadable, and relate much more to Blyler’s recommendation for sex, cocktails, and gastronomy – specifically oysters – to fuel creativity. But for me, the best and truest is Vice Three: Put Gambling First.

Gambling is at the heart of every worthwhile accomplishment in life. Consequently, vice three is essential for the success of your creativity. Instinctively, the highly creative person knows that nothing matters except the throw of the dice. As the French say, “There are two great pleasures in gambling: that of winning and that of losing.” Or, in the words of Mark Twain, “There are two times in a man’s life when he should [gamble]: when he can’t afford it and when he can.” These are vital lessons.

The world is full of stories of highly creative people whose success was based on the big gamble. A young Steven Spielberg sneaks into a Hollywood film studio, sets up an office and proceeds to act like an employee, thus beginning the most lucrative directorial career in history. Thirty-year-old Henry Miller moves to Paris with little money and no prospects, determined to become the most talked-about American novelist of his generation, and does…

But it’s not until the end of life that we truly know what we’ve won or lost. French philosopher Denis Diderot summed it up eloquently:

The world is the house of the strong. I shall not know until the end what I have lost or won in this place, in this vast gambling den where I have spent more than 60 years, dicebox in hand, shaking the dice.”

I admire little gambles as well: taking a risk by defying some personal, secret fear is to me an act of creativity…or putting a little salt in whipped cream to see how it tastes (risking that it will taste bad!, but happily finding out it brings out the nuances of the cream, and is a surprising foil for chocolate cake)….

(The photo of decaying dice are from the amazing book Dice: Deception, Fate, and Rotten Luck by Ricky Jay. View more photos of Ricky Jay’s decaying dice at The Museum of Jurassic Technology.)

via Kottke

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