There's a reason Wallace Stevens used the garden as a metaphor for the creative process: it is the ultimate SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION.
We are easily seduced by those lovely photos in magazines of gorgeous flowerbeds or intricate knot gardens, but it's easy to forget—or in the case of those who don't actually garden, not even know—that those photos are much like Keats' Grecian Urn: they are frozen in time, a joy forever in their perfection.
But in real life, in real time, that's not the case at all. There's always a weed, there's always a wilting bloom to deadhead, there's always a plant that failed. Annuals have to be replaced. Perennials have to be coddled or reprimanded.
And every now and then, the garden must be replaced.
Let's take a look at my herb garden. It has certainly undergone SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION over the years.
Here it is many years ago, freshly planted, with a lovely brick path through its center.
And here it is recently, with borders revamped and leveled. The central path is gone, mostly because the brick walkway in the front yard that it connected to is gone. Some half-hearted landscaping, "professionally" done one year, took up some of the space at the rear. (That was instigated by someone who isn't me who doesn't garden at all.)
Note the huge dill plant. It's known locally as the Dill Plant That Ate Newnan, and it has refused to succumb to either drought or freeze. It is a mighty, mighty plant.
Sometimes the garden looks like this:
And of course, right about this time of year, it looks like this:
It's time to start over. Not just clear out the debris, but literally take everything out and plant anew in the spring.
That was my afternoon task yesterday, and I was ruthless. Even the Dill Plant That Ate Newnan had to go, even though if I'm honest it broke my heart to rip it out. Bless it, it had been such a trooper, but its leaves were woody and its size overtook anything in its vicinity. I thanked it for its service and dug it up.
There was also a rose bush that had always looked kind of grotesque and blasted, and my razing extended to the front of the house as well. I did replant some obtrusive plants from that garden over to where we took out the privet hedge. Let them and the wisteria fight it out.
(And in that area, I found a small dill plant growing. I felt like Aragorn.)
What does this have to with Lichtenbergianism?
First of all, you are mistaken if you think that the creative process applies only to the fine arts. Gardening, coding, scientific research, city planning, legislating: all are governed by the Nine Precepts, or should be.
Second, Wallace Stevens had it right: every now and then you have to dig it all up and start over. When your project—or your entire creative life—seems stuck, too complicated, overgrown as it were, then some ABANDONMENT is in order. Stop what you're doing. Walk away. Set it aside. Start over as if it's a new project.
Rip out everything clogging your garden, and plant a new seed.