An Examination of Human Creativity

Hello and good day! Here, we explore art theory and concepts. In this chapter, we’ll discuss creativity! Let’s dive right in.

To be frank, creativity is a tough subject to discuss because it has many elements, many different definitions, and many different forms of experience. What I mean by this is that creativity is affected by many things and there are many inputs to create a specific output. Also, many creative people and researchers who study creativity have different definitions of what creativity is. Moreover, every creative person experiences creativity differently because the process they use is different from the next and the output is different from the next. Therefore, the creativity process may be similar and the experience is unique. Examples of this could be artists who have a specific ritual before they create a piece. Some artists have a specific location or vibe in the room that they’re in. Some people can create around others, yet a portion of creators need to create while alone.

Here, I want to discuss what creativity is, where it comes from, and what it means to us as humans. I’m also drawing and painting with creativity in mind at the time of this writing; check it out on my YouTube and Instagram. So, moving on, let’s define creativity in more ways than one and hopefully we’ll come down to a definition that we can agree on for now.

Gunter Abel defines creativity in his article “The Riddle of Creativity: a Philosophy’s View” printed in the Journal of Chinese philosophy. This was written in 2014. This is his definition, I quote directly: “I propose that creativity can be conceived as a phenomenon of [the] emergence [or] a “surprising coming about” with emergence being understood as a given and both the philosophy of the mind and the systematic sciences of complexity such as synergetics self-organization theory and chaos theory”. This means that emergence comes from philosophy regarding how the mind works, why it works the way it does, and where it has been. What he means by the systemic sciences of complexity is that it is very complicated for science to explain creativity which it currently cannot. Gunter also elaborates on emergence by explaining that signs, which can be defined as stimuli from the outside world that inspire creativity, are needed to perceive the exigence needed to create. Exigence is something that is necessary for a particular situation. This means that creativity is necessary in particular situations when the sign is perceived by a creative person. This comes from the idea that creative people have more of an unfiltered flow of stimuli from the outside world that constantly inspires creativity, and in other cases creativity is sporadic; however, the flow is still less filtered that less creative people.

In summary, Gunter Abel gives us ingredients for creativity. We need perception, imagination, signs or external stimuli, and a flow state that can take stimuli and create an output. I also want to clarify what Gunter Abel defined as a creative person. He claims that creative people have particular imagination, problem-solving skills, ability to see the order in chaos, they’re typically the black sheep of a group, and their creativity makes them unique among their peers. I’d like to add that creative people are not merely limited to artists and musicians. Creative people can be within businesses or in construction companies. The point being that creative people can take external signs, use their imagination, and then create an output.

Now, let us explore creativity with other viewpoints. In the 1992 article “The Art of Creativity” D. Goleman and P Kaufman list a few definitions of creativity defined by creative people. Spalding Gray, a writer, describes his process of creativity and what he thinks of creativity. He uses a method that requires him to put ideas written on paper in a box. When the box is full, he creates stories from a random assortment of those ideas and the box is emptied. He also has an idea of the overarching concept in his creative piece. He has concepts like theme and story arc planned well before he is completed. Furthermore, he explains that he needs a public setting to feel truly creative and in his flow state. This is different than other artists because some artists like myself need to be alone and need to be focused to do what I need to do, which is not always art but music or writing or even researching. All of these are creative activities that I do. Benny Golson explains that creativity comes by breaking rules. this is similar to Gunter Abel’s point about breaking the rules of a creative space. However, he emphasizes that creative people don’t merely break the rules; they write new ones and they amend old rules because the rules of a particular medium or creative space are similar to each other. A good example is Andy Worhol’s work. His style wasn’t like traditional art but it still consisted of images that represented something that were put on paper or canvas.

So, we have defined creativity in many ways. I want to come up with one solid definition for the sake of this discussion and perhaps while your further ponderings of creativity.

  • Creativity is the process using external stimuli, imagination, and knowledge to create an interpretation of the creator and the creator’s surroundings.

I think that’s as simple as I can get it from doing the research that I’ve done and thinking of my creativity. Firstly, I think it’s a process, and I think there are distinct beginning, middle, and an end phases to the creative process. The creation could be a song, sculpture, or a skyscraper. I also think that the creative person needs to use their knowledge to alter the external stimuli so they can project their interpretation into the world for others to see. That interpretation is typically and interpretation of the artist painting a self-portrait or an interpretation of the world around them even in the realm of abstract art and impressionism.

Creative people, as I said before, are dynamic and not limited to just artists and musicians. So, I will focus on what I think the creative person does. A person who is inclined towards creativity often subjects themselves to an unfiltered flow of external stimuli as well as internal stimuli in the form of imagination. In my experience, I am always inside my head. I can continuously think about an idea for hours and days as my mind wanders on a subject. Also, I am perfectly comfortable with being left alone away from others to think and experience things unbothered. This habit keeps me thinking of my creativity constantly. I think that many creative people have no choice but to be creative, and they have limitations into what output they can achieve. I think the creative mind is constantly taking in, arranging, creating and even forgetting ideas. at least this is true in my experience. Gunter, Goleman, and Kaufman all write in agreement that creativity is fleeting. Because it is often a random occurrence, it is challenging to sustain and replicate fully. I think that it takes a seasoned creator’s own ritual to get into a flow state that will help them complete long-term creative pieces.

I want to move on to my last few points which are:

  • How is creativity meaningful to humanity?

  • Why do we create?

  • Do we need to create?

  • What inspires us to create?

It’s a crazy blur of questions, I know, but I think humans create because it’s a way to communicate. I think creativity is a way to communicate ideas, Humans have been doing it for thousands of years. Think to the Lascaux cave paintings in France about 20,000 years ago. The people painted the world around them, themselves, wild animals in nature, and their relationship to them. Some say that the paintings were painted by a select few people for ritualistic purposes or purely creative purposes. I have heard, I cannot remember where, that ancient people would use cave paintings to put themselves in a mindset that they were hunting these animals or being hunted by these animals that they are painted on the walls of caves. All in all, I think the central idea was to use the paintings in the caves as a communication tool. We can communicate without a physical being present to communicate; it is just there like a message. I think because humans have created for so long cave paintings, sculptures, pyramids, and temples; I think that is it is a need that we have. I think our brains need to get creative energy out of us and I think that creative people need to be creative. In my experience, I need to create an output of my ideas or my mind becomes cluttered and I feel like I have too much to think about. I obsess over too much that I want to do. Nonetheless, if I can get creativity out in a painting, music, or writing, then I will have a more free mind; that is what I value. In addition, inspiration is key to creativity, and I think we need the world around us otherwise we wouldn’t be creating. I think that is evident in ancient art because ancient art is less abstract and idealistic. It is more true to what people experienced in real life, in my opinion. I also think some of the art today to be idealistic of the future or modern times. On the contrary, in recent times, art in the 2010s have tried to be the truest reflection of what is good and bad in the modern world. I think we need the outside world and that is what inspires us the most; our minds are the nets that filters, mixes, and creates something new out of something small or sometimes nothing.

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Much obliged for your time and reading! Thank you to those listening on the podcast and also those on YouTube for watching. I would like to converse with anyone about creativity and their experience with it. Also, I’d like to hear what they think about creating and what they think about what I’ve written or pretty much anything about creativity, art, and music. Social media links are listed. Talk to me, bye!

https://linktr.ee/DarellTeague

Cited Sources:

Abel, Gunter. “The Riddle of Creativity: Philosophy’s View.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 2014, pp. 17-38. Accessed 20 October 2019.

Goleman, D., and P. Kaufman. “The Art of Creativity.” Psychology Today, 1992, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/199203/the-art-creativity.

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