cover image Fingerpainting on the Moon: Writing and Creativity as a Path to Freedom

Fingerpainting on the Moon: Writing and Creativity as a Path to Freedom

Peter Levitt. Harmony, $21 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-609-61048-0

In creativity lies the true path to freedom is this book's central and oft-repeated thesis, and Levitt uses a mishmash of mystical Judaism, Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Hinduism and other spiritual and philosophical traditions to inspire readers to tap into their own creative genius. Poet Levitt talks mostly about writing here, but asserts his message applies to""anyone who longs to return to his creative source and to express both the journey and what he finds once he is there."" Levitt is a warm and often wise teacher, but his lessons can come off as a bit too precious, a bit too New Age. On the importance of asking questions, Levitt muses that questions""can be the moon calling to us to join them there, which we know how to do. To embrace a question born in our imagination is to feel embraced."" Levitt's portrait of a creative life, with its intense focus on dreamy self-examination, may strike some as overly earnest, even solipsistic. Those inclined to express creativity through social commentary, for instance, or satire, will likely not be moved by advice such as""It is in the spirit of awe, inspiration, yearning and the need we all have to discover the light of the creative sparks in our lives that I urge you to close the gap and give yourself entirely to all parts of your world."" The strongest parts of the book come when Levitt connects ancient mystical teachings with the present search for creativity. The story of a Zen master who shot an arrow into the sea and declared it a bull's-eye, for example, is a tale meant to help readers overcome fear of failure by avoiding narrow, pre-determined definitions of success. As far as creative success goes, Levitt encourages readers,""the target is large and the center can be found everywhere.""