To live on the border is to feel alive. It is to cross over and to be crossed over: to be both passive and active. It is to see and be seen: to observe with the invisibility of a hidden sentry and to be exposed like a trespasser in the searchlights. It is to be at once comfortable and uncomfortable: to be sure of oneself and to question everything all the time. To try to locate where the specific act of creativity occurs, one must navigate this peculiar territory.

I intend to propose here a theory of creativity as a kind of interactivity with these "border" regions. I'll disclaim at the outset that it is absolutely a pet theory of mine in the sense that it is informed by my own creative undertakings (however ill-advised or poorly executed) and my personal history (however irrelevantly singular or uselessly pedestrian). It is then something of a given that I take the risk of projecting my own experience and methods onto more general phenomena and of simplifying things that are actually quite complex — in which case I will not have distilled any essence of a principle or commonality, but will rather have only shared a series of stories relating to one person's odd way of looking at things. As a sort of bulwark against the second eventuality, I intend where possible to provide illustrative examples and case studies from work other than my own, though the reader will hopefully forgive an occasional detour and personal anecdote, since it is my own experience of these phenomena with which I am most familiar.

The terrain at these fringes of the psyche can take a variety of guises, appearing in one instance as the crude and absurd abutment of two unrelated entities, in the next as a sort of demilitarized zone with indeterminate bleed of one area into another, and yet again as a gaping void between two neighboring entities that don't quite meet and where it isn't quite established what, if anything, lies between them. Michel Foucault reckoned with what he called the vide essentiel ("essential void") by way of an analysis of Las Meninas, Velazquez's famous painting that forces the viewer into a series of circular questions and near-solutions that keep slipping out of focus (Les Mots et les Choses, 16). Is the artist painting me, the viewer? Or the king and queen of Spain, whom I see reflected in the mirror at the rear of the space depicted on the canvas? Or? Anne Carson carries Foucault's meditations on Las Meninas into the realm of desire:

When we try to think about our own thinking, as when we try to feel our own desire, we find ourselves located at a blind point. There is no stillness at that point. Its components split and diverge each time we try to bring them into focus, as if interior continents were wrenching askew in the mind. It is not a point upon which we can gaze in such a way as to peacefully converge with the king and queen in one image there, one noun. That point is a verb. Each time we look at it, it acts. (Eros: the Bittersweet, 71-72)