Creativity: The Perfect Crime by Philippe PetitCreativity: The Perfect Crime by Philippe Petit

Creativity: The Perfect Crime

byPhilippe Petit

Hardcover | May 15, 2014

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In the vein of The Creative Habit and The Artist’s Way, a new manifesto on the creative process from a master of the impossible.
Since well before his epic 1974 walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, Philippe Petit had become an artist who answered first and foremost to the demands of his craft—not only on the high wire, but also as a magician, street juggler, visual artist, builder, and writer. A born rebel like many creative people, he was from an early age a voracious learner who taught himself, cultivating the attitudes, resources, and techniques to tackle even seemingly impossible feats. His outlaw sensibility spawned a unique approach to the creative process—an approach he shares, with characteristic enthusiasm, irreverence, and originality in Creativity: The Perfect Crime.
            Making the reader his accomplice, Petit reveals new and unconventional ways of going about the artistic endeavor, from generating and shaping ideas to practicing and problem-solving to pulling off the “coup” itself—executing a finished work. The strategies and insights he shares will resonate with performers of every stripe (actors, musicians, dancers) and practitioners of the non-performing arts (painters, writers, sculptors), and also with ordinary mortals in search of fresh ways of tackling the challenges and possibilities of everyday existence.
Philippe Petit has performed on the high wire more than eighty times around the world; he is also a magician, street juggler, visual artist, builder, lecturer, and writer. A frequent contributor to TED and other national venues, he is the author and illustrator of several books, including To Reach the Clouds, the basis of the 2009 Acad...
Title:Creativity: The Perfect CrimeFormat:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 9.4 × 7.75 × 0.75 inPublished:May 15, 2014Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1594631689

ISBN - 13:9781594631689

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Read from the Book

Make no mistake.I frown upon books about creativity.Too often they gather only formulas, point at Einstein and the Beatles butrarely at the author, propose exercises that mistake the mind for a gym machineand conclude each chapter with a recap worthy of fifth-graders. Inaiming at the universal—to satisfy the commonest denominator of humanthinking and behavior—most of these books miss all of the originality, thehumor, the serendipity, the grace, the exceptions to the rule, the idiosyncrasiesthat mold the way of art. So if I don’t believe in books about creativity, why am I writing one?Although the original idea for this book was not mine—it came from theoutside—its entire content comes directly from inside, from a life I havespent creating. I hope that my unconventional, insubordinate process ofcreativity will offer insight for anyone struggling to achieve his or herdreams. Born into the confines of rigid parenting, repressive schooling and the narrow-mindedness of a country busy manufacturing 365 types of cheeses,quite early I started to rebel against authority. I was not very good at following.I had to distance myself from the norm, to venture along solitary paths,to teach myself.At six, I taught myself magic; at fourteen, juggling; at sixteen, wire-walking.In the process, I was thrown out of five different schools. Regardless, I wouldnever have let my schooling get in the way of my education. Observation was my conduit to knowledge, intuition my source of power.I spent my days taking things apart and rebuilding them; not asking how todo something, but finding out; hiding from people in order to stare at them,noting how they dress, talk, act, and noticing their mistakes . . .As a teenager I spent considerable time at the circus and vaudeville theater,witnessing the best acts in the world—thereby setting my artistic standardsat an unusually high level. I would compare the overall effect different performanceshad on me and decide who was the best dancer, the best ventriloquist,the best stand-up comic. I would try on their styles and attempt theirroutines. Ha-ha! Yet trial and error provided results. All of this trying and failing and watching and trying again bred in me anarrogant, proud and aggressive determination. Each discovery, no matter hownaive, had to be jealously hidden from the rest of the world. Each victory feltlike a stolen jewel. I fell into a natural state of intellectual self-defense. Letme explain.Always trying my best, I became guilty of pursuing perfection—imaginethat!Always working relentlessly, I became obstinate—and almost felt guiltyabout it.To protect what triggered my creativity, I became secretive.Anxious about being discovered, fearful of being caught, I ended up alwayson the lookout.At the outset of most projects, busy battling against overwhelming odds, Icame to believe the entire world was against me.This was a reflection of reality as well as the frame of mind I needed tobe at my most creative. It coated my character with an outlaw sheen. AndI’m sure that with my constant sneaking, my tiptoeing, my way of approachingpeople inconspicuously from behind to spy on them or surprise them, Imust have looked like a criminal, and certainly others must have felt I wasone. And so I was not surprised the world around me reacted with suspicionand mistrust! Before I had reached eighteen, I had rewritten the Book of Ethics that hadbeen forced on me earlier, and before I knew it, I had acquired the mind ofa criminal.My attitude as an artist grew out of the realization I’d arrived at from anearly age: that my intellectual engagement, my imaginative freedom, had aprice, that of the forbidden. Whatever I decided to do, it was not allowed!“Creativity is illegal” became my byword.The creator must be an outlaw.Not a criminal outlaw, but rather a poet who cultivates intellectual rebellion.The difference between a bank job and an illegal high-wire walk is paramount:the aerial crossing does not steal anything; it offers an ephemeral gift,one that delights and inspires. Despite my outlaw approach—or because of it—a network of personal creativeprinciples imperceptibly emerged. Lawlessness doesn’t mean lack ofmethod: in fact, the outlaw I became needed method all the more, becauseI was swimming alone to the island of my dreams.With the urgency of those who believe life is short, I found multiple ways ofgetting things done, I solved problems intuitively, and by refusing failure, Iwas able to achieve the impossible.I dedicated myself to my arts, bringing to bear a fanatic attention to detail andlittle respect for the established values of competition, money or social status.For my first major high-wire walks—at Notre Dame, the Sydney HarborBridge and the World Trade Center—Oops!—I forgot to ask permission. Andafter, I certainly did not seek forgiveness.Over the years, I went on refining a highly personal creative process. I keptdrawing on my autodidactic elasticity, all the time knowing that I was neveralone in my progress: mentors, friends and illustrious artists in a wide rangeof creative fields guided me and opened doors. They were masters of onecraft, however, and I was . . . a defiant Renaissance Boy wanting to do it all! One day I was asked to share my creative process with others in the form of alecture. I concocted a lively mixture of physical demonstrations, experimentswith props, audience participation, storytelling, live drawings, quizzes and evenmagic tricks; and I took pleasure in revealing some of my creative secrets.Word of my lectures spread and I was encouraged to do more.My audience grew to be quite diverse: aspiring wire-walkers, Nobel Prizewinners, clergymen; millionaires whose focus lacked focus and businessmenstriving to become millionaires; young entrepreneurs, people seeking a directionin life, curious souls, and students of all sorts of subjects. My audiences seemed to identify with my outlaw attitude, to be inspired bymy propensity for venturing far off the beaten path. They asked me to elaborateon my “grammar of creativity,” and even the tech geeks I spoke to werehungry for more of this self-confessed Luddite’s primer on self-teaching andself-discovery. Eventually I distilled my audience’s favorite topics into a one-man show,WIRELESS! Philippe Petit Down to Earth. And I began to see that despite myaversion to guides to the creative process, I really did have the makings of abook.But not a book about creativity.A book about my creativity. So think of this book as a conspiracy—or, if you will, a manifesto. Andthink of yourself, dear reader, as an accomplice who is invited to explore yourown field of intellectual or artistic “crime.” See this book not as a blueprint for any specific crime but as a series of postcardsfrom the labyrinths I build (to confuse those chasing me), the tunnels Idig (to escape), the dams I erect (to delay the invasion of the elements). Acceptmy invitation to become my student, my partner, in crime. Togetherwe’ll take chances and yet leave nothing to chance. We’ll question the questions,yet arrive at definitive principles. We’ll be stubbornly focused, yet curiousabout everything. I hope this book will provide guidance for your imagination. That it willhelp you to recognize all sorts of obstacles, in order to circumvent them, or—if need be—make them vanish. That it will reveal to you the surest way tobring your “criminal intentions” from inspiration to full-fledged execution—to “coup.” And that along the way, it imparts what I have discovered aboutthe benefits of passion, tenacity, intuition, misdirection, daily practice, secrets,mistakes, surprises and believing in miracles. Most of all, I fervently wish it will remind you of the qualities hidden insideall of us, that we are rarely encouraged to recognize but that are essential tomake our dreams come true, to plan, design and construct a wondrous life. I wish you the most adventurous journey, epic pursuit and successful escape. Vehemently yours,Philippe Petit10 Rue Laplace, ParisOctober 6, 2012*

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Creativity: The Perfect Crime“Gleeful… Anyone involved in the performing arts will find Creativity useful. [A] kaleidoscopic manifesto …. as richly insightful as it is vaingloriously irreverent. Read it. Use it to cross whatever tightropes you happen to be perched on.” – Minneapolis Star Tribune“Anyone curious about Petit’s life and art, or hoping to draw inspiration for their own creative coup, will find ideas and insights in Creativity: The Perfect Crime.” --BookPage"Like all extraordinary artists, Philippe Petit's practice is founded in rigor, scrutiny, and dedication. What sets Philippe in a class all his own is his restless quest to conquer the greatest physical heights, achieving a precise balance of chaos and creativity. He is an inspiration to all who dare to dream of the seemingly impossible. Dear friend: I salute you!”--Mikhail Baryshnikov “A book as unique, open and inspiring as one would expect from its fundamentally revolutionary creator, a true original who does not accept accepted wisdom or take no for an answer. As I read, I kept underlining and thinking of friends I wanted to share it with---actors, writers, directors, anyone really. This book could be as powerful for kids as adults; I put a copy of it on each of my kids' nightstands and recommend you do the same.”--David Duchovny “If life itself is a walk on a wire, suspended between birth and death, in Creativity: The Perfect Crime Philippe Petit reminds us that the humble precision of every little step can lead to greatness.”--Francesco Clemente“I enjoyed the organization of chaos, the boldness of ideas, the insanity of Philippe’s visions, the extreme discipline of planning, and the passion of the feat. It inspires to create not only on a sound concept, but also on a whim or a spark.  I was thoroughly able to identify with his highs and lows and it was a great pleasure to have one so freewheeling put his methods down in a completely personal way."--Julie Taymor “Philippe Petit created one of the greatest works of art of the twentieth century.  He is also a most intelligent and original thinker (not to mention terrific company).  How lucky we are to have him as a guide into the elusive and all-important subject of creativity."--Jonathan Safran Foer