Creativity 101

As I begin to meander into Erikson’s Generativity vs. Stagnation phase of life’s puzzle, it’s only fitting that these days I find myself giving more and more thought over to the notion of creativity in general.  What is it?  How does it work?  What can you do to stimulate/(simulate?) it?  (Fake it ’til you make it, baby…)  How do you teach it?  To what extent is it exclusive?  What is it “good” for?  Dot dot dot…


While I likely won’t be waxing too much on procreation proper (well, you never know?), creativity as an extension of the concept of generativity is something I will take up in ongoing postings here.

There are two separate categories on this site where such discussion will be reflected: The first and what will probably be the most frequently contributed to relates to my own creative process.  At this point in my career I have built up just enough variety in my experience with the subject of art to consider that some of it may be sufficiently divergent to be interesting to others.  (It has historically been at least interesting enough to myself that I’ve kept on with it – Ha!)  “Process” is a fairly broad term as I mean it, referring to just about anything that informs making work, even – perhaps especially – when the work doesn’t actually end up getting made…

The second category deals with creativity in a broader and more abstract sense, not limited to my own work or even to the arts.  Concepts under this heading may range from very practical to very theoretical; however ultimately my own goals for exploring this topic remain quite rooted in pragmatism.  As a teacher and therapist I believe a theoretical understanding of creativity stands to translate meaningfully into how one works with others, thereby determining some portion of the good one concretely effects.  Another reason I concern myself with a larger framework for creativity is that it is much more fundamental than art per se: Whenever making visual art with a student or client I am aware that we are really using that activity as a vehicle, albeit an undeniably rich and multifaceted one, to summon and nurture a deeply embedded evolutionary force.  Art can be picked up and put down (save for we the addicted), but one’s creative self is forever conscious and alive, generating and selecting from present options en route to the optimal future it imagines .  Hence in one manner of speaking, the question I posed above, “What is it “good” for?” holds a meta-ethical dimension, as creativity participates immediately and actually in the omnipresent relationship between self and world.  However, mainly as an extension of personality, I have always also found myself (toasting marshmallows) in the camp that Aesthetics, creativity’s other fairy godparent, is (or rather “should” be, minus the obvious ethical twist) autonomous in some way, with certain aspects of the mind’s operation and production indeed being “higher” than others, in a few valuable respects.  Political implications of this position loom large for waking life but dreams are dreams and interpreting those fantastic things is a dreadfully boring pursuit.  With ethics and politics infusing everything one also winds up with weird questions like “What should be beautiful?”  And as ugly as my art can be I confess that yes, I believe in beauty, too.

This thread is meant to encourage feedback!  And so, I’d love to hear from anyone concerning their own creative processes, in art making and beyond.  The stranger the better!


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