In several recent interviews, and also in some blog postings, I've attempted to explain my particular artistic notion of asceticism (for example, here) - and I'm not sure if I've totally succeeded in articulating what seems, at its core, to be a total paradox.
How can one artist be better than another doing ostensibly exactly the same thing just because he or she is choosing not to do something else that we can't experience anyway? How can you explain the effect of the presence of something that can't be seen, touched or felt? You know, the more you think about it, the less it appears to make sense; while the less it appears to make sense, the more we know it has to be true as it's happening all around us.
One way is by applying a kind of intangible compromise, or what I call a transparent concession (originally referred to here), and I believe I've got a more effective metaphor for articulating this concept, culled once again from my favourite source of inspiration, the theatre.
Imagine you were playing the leading role in a play of two acts. In between the acts there's a 20 minute intermission where you have some time to yourself backstage. The question is, what would you do with this time away from the focus of the audience in order to maximise your performance? Do you relax and exchange small-talk with the staff perhaps, or do you spend it staying in character?
Of course the latter. It's an example of a transparent concession being employed - not something the audience is ever aware of, yet makes such a profound creative difference. Successful magicians and miracle workers employ transparent concessions - like in this Indian Rope Trick demonstration. If it's not transparent, then it's not magic!
You may now be wondering how you might put this to good use in music or painting or photography or other artistic endeavours - and in my typically cryptic, evasive (if not downright irritating) style, I won't provide any further real-life examples - all in the hope that it will serve to cognitively whet your creative juices in unexpectedly pleasing and productive ways.