Confessions of an Outlaw: The Alchemy of Sleep

High-wire artist Philippe Petit explains how to practice creativity while sleeping.

Philippe Petit: When I review or try to describe my creativity, I realize it’s a nonstop train and people say, "Yeah, well at some point you go to sleep." Well actually this moment where we think we rest when the brain is floating, you know, in sleep is actually a moment where I could be very creative in a very strange, uncontrolled way.

Metaphorically speaking, of course, if I put a problem behind my pillow and fall asleep, very often because my brain went to sleep with that idea or the problem alive, very often in the middle of the night I wake up and I wake up with a solution or with a direction of solution. And I always have a little notepad and a pen because when I wake up in the middle of the night, if I don’t immediately jot the solution to my problem, it evaporates in thin air and I wake up naturally the next morning having forgotten the incident. Even if you experiment that, if you fall asleep with an idea that is not solved yet, you might very well wake up naturally or wake up, you know, before you wake up naturally with some sense of the solution and I find that fascinating and it’s not something unique to me, so try it and you’ll be amazed too.

High-wire artist Philippe Petit explains how he practices creativity while sleeping. If he falls asleep with an idea in his head, Petit allows his subconscious self the opportunity to find a solution. Often he wakes up with the solution sitting there waiting for him.

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