What is freedom?

How-Should-a-Person-BeFor the past two months, I’ve been working hard on my book/series of accounts, Unofficial Student Transcript. I (think) I’ve finally finished its first form: an iBooks Author ebook. In the next day or two, I hope to publish it. Today, on this sunny day in Minneapolis (the calm before the storm; we’re supposed to get a 6+ inch snow storm tomorrow night and Monday. Yuck!), I’m taking a break with a book that I’ve been wanting to read for some time now: How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti. I wasn’t planning to blog about it. I just wanted to sit back and enjoy it. But, I couldn’t resist making a note of a passage on freedom that I might want to return to someday.

[Misha is speaking] Sholem was saying that freedom, for him, is having the technical facility to be able to execute whatever he wants, just whatever image he has in mind. But that’s not freedom! Than’s control, or power. Whereas I think Margaux understands freedom to be the freedom to take risks, the freedom to do something bad and or appear foolish. To not recognize that difference is a pretty big thing.

It’s like with improv, Misha said. True improv is about surprising yourself—but most people won’t improvise truthfully. They’re afraid. What they do is pull from their bag of tricks. They take what they already know how to do and apply it to the present situation. But that’s cheating! And cheating’s bad for an artist. It’s bad in life—but it’s really bad in art (19).