Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Creativity: Invoking the Gods or Madness


Looks like the source of Creativity has been an ongoing discussion for ages. Poets in ancient Greek and Roman times invoked gods to assist in their writing. (Can't say much has changed there.) What I found fascinating is that many believe psychotic-ism causes creativity. Even Aristotle claimed that there was never a genius without a tincture of madness. And, that's a direct quote.

Makes me feel rather distinguished as a creative being--though I am not crazy enough to consider myself genius.

There has been active debate on whether creative genius is dependent on mental illness or insanity. This debate continues further by stating that madness alone cannot suffice as Source for creativity. Nay, nay. An openness to experience, intelligence and wisdom complete the mysterious formula. They are actually writing papers on the subject. The bottom line: Creative people make creativity a way of life.

We can all name artists, musicians, writers, scientists, etc. who inspire us with their fascinating and divergent thinking. (Look at our own Basil Sands, for goodness sake.) The argument for creative personalities presented by Hal Lancaster during the late 90's in The Wall Street Journal stated six basic qualities exist:

1. Keen powers of observation.
2. Restless curiosity.
3. An ability to recognize issues that others miss.
4. An ability to generate numerous ideas.
5. Persistently questioning the norm.
6. A talent for seeing established structures in new ways.

Do you see yourself in any or all of the above? I do, which is fun. But, what really appeals to me is the recurring theme of madness in creative beings. After all, if you're considered a little crazy you need no excuses for your behavior. I like that.

So, I am trying out my creative juices in a new location for awhile. I am writing to you from Santiago, Chile today. My Muse is having a field day. We're eating foreign foods, seeing exotic places and conversing in my pitiful Spanish as much as possible. I'm getting funny looks and lots of laughs. So, I'm pretty sure I am doing something right!

Once again, which of the 6 traits above is your strongest? You're favorite? Inquiring minds want to know!

Cao for now!




37 comments:

  1. Hmmm...of that list of six, I think "An ability to recognize issues that others miss" is one of my main strengths as well as "a talent for seeing established structures in new ways."

    My weakest by far is the absence of "keen powers of observation." But I think I lack observational skills for good reason--as a mega introvert, I'm usually inwardly focused most of the time. I'd also say that while visually I'm not an observer of detail, from an audio standpoint, I do take in a lot of detail and end up churning auditory details over in my mind and they eventually surface somehow.

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  2. Restless Curiosity -

    I used to think there was something wrong with me, you know, can't sit still, always wondering (where's that plane going?), daydreaming (what if I lived in a different place?), thinking things others steered clear of (do the voices in my head bother you?).

    Turns out, I'm a writer with a serious creative streak. Thanks for honoring that, Kathleen.

    Creative Genius? Well, neurotic, definitely - I love that being a little crazy is okay. And I love Basil's posts too.

    Cao!

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  3. I'm with BK.
    It is hard to be have "keen powers of observation" when you are shy.

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  4. I see myself in all six, but I am not mad. In fact, I am quite the opposite.

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  5. "Recognizing issues that others miss" would be mine. Also known as being a professional pessimist, lol!

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  6. BK--Your strengths are excellent. As a mega introvert you've just triggered my fascination. I'm your polar opposite. I'd like nothing better than to buy you a coffee--or a beer one day to hear about you're view of the world. And, it occurs to me that the thought probably horrifies you. LOL!

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  7. Paula-- are you going to Sleuthfest in Orlando in March? I'd love to compare crazy with you!

    Besides, Heather Graham asked me to sing backup for her Slushpile Band playing at The House of Blues on Saturday night, so I have finally confirmed that I'm nuts --because I wouldn't miss a good time like that for the world! If you are coming, be sure to bring your dancing' shoes...and earplugs!LOL!

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  8. Victoria, so you will have to join BK and me for coffe/beer so we can discuss internal powers of observation. I'm sure you recognized strengths from that list as well.

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  9. Timothy---ahh, yes. I belong to that club as well! I'm not mad. It's the rest of mankind...

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  10. Kathryn ---funny! I'd prefer to call it attention to detail, which makes your writing so excellent.

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  11. I might be a little "crazy" for saying this, Kathleen but "you're crazy." That, I have found since first meeting you, is your most enduring quality! And believe me I know crazy:)

    Of the 6 characteristics for me, well let's just say I walk a very fine line on the edge of darkness. I love it! Thanks for the blog, Kathleen. Love you!!!

    Carl

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  12. 1. Keen powers of observation.
    2. Restless curiosity.
    3. An ability to recognize issues that others miss.
    4. An ability to generate numerous ideas.
    5. Persistently questioning the norm.
    6. A talent for seeing established structures in new ways.

    I am severely plagued by all 6. I constantly pick apart things, breaking them down to see what's inside, meaning language and words and logical structures. As a software developer, these traits help tremendously. I guess I was not aware how much they come into play in the writing arena. I am never short on ideas, and I think people are creeped out by me always staring at them, trying to conjure up the strangest ideas or unnaturally adding traits and inner thoughts to their appearance to make interesting characters, or to guess at who they are inside. The hardest thing is hacking myself and understanding my own motivations, but I see the world with a user interface, much like a computer, or the movie Stranger Than Fiction. It is almost that palpable. I see the backside of the seen, the framewotks and systems that shore up all that is. It is a very strange world and is often difficult to communicate with others, unless it is in a written way. Asperger's makes verbal and auditory hard for me, but visual and written are strengths. Thanks for this list, very insightful for me.

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  13. Curiosity and seeing things others miss are the biggies for me. I think they generate the rest.

    By the way, really like the light blue Times New Roman text: very easy on the eyes against the black background. (Hmm, that's seeing something in a new way, isn't it? *grin*)

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  14. It's nice to know your not crazy. Especially when I often get the what?? look. So going in a different direction is good! YAY!

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  15. It sounds like a great trip, Kathleen. Safe journeys to you.

    "Keen powers of observation" and "restless curiosity" are my two main strengths. I think you've got to have one with the other. Restless curiosity will get you into trouble; having keen powers of observation will help you to spot trouble coming, which is the first step toward getting out of it.

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  16. I have flashes of all 6 and decided a long time ago that when I grew up I wanted to be eccentric. I'm a goodly way there.

    Best bit of poetry ever, "When I am Old I shall Wear Purple."

    I think #7 on the list should be an unrelenting sense of humor and the absurd and #7a is the ability to laugh at yourself first and foremost.

    I'm currently doing a blog project where I carry my favorite book with me everywhere I go and photograph our adventures (Book and I grocery shopping, Book and I taking a walk, Book and I at the courthouse, etc.). It's absurd. It's hilarious. It gets some really strange looks. It makes me happy.

    #8 is self-confidence tempered with humility. I got my first 1099 for writing/fees/royalties yesterday. Six figures, four of them to the left of the decimal point. My first thought was, "cwap, I'm a writer."

    BK, don't ever sell yourself short. There are too many others willing to do it for you. Don't help them.

    Terri

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  17. Aw gee whiz Kathleen, I'm flattered for the mention.

    I really do believe that often the best way to be enhance creativity is to try and see the points that few others see, and bring those to light for them. Once some things are seen, they can never be unseen.

    Must say though, you forgot one point in your list: dragon-fighting and/or ninja skills. Very important in writing and creativity in general.

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  18. Restless curiosity is definitely one of my things but I have also been accused of having an overactive imagination and a crazy dream life. Since my parents are English, eccentricity runs in the family, so I like to think I inherited all my madness and creativity:)

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  19. Like Basil, I am also a dab hand when it comes to fighting dragons.

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  20. Hey, Carl! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Since I'm in Chile I can happily refer to our mutual states as muy creativo!

    Love you, too, my friend!

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  21. Arwhy----all I can say is that it sounds like your talent runs deep! I have no doubt you are a superstar at what you do. Thanks for sharing the insights into you!

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  22. Ross, you noticed! I did that purposely to be creative. LOL!

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  23. Yes, indeed, Mary. It's fun sharing it with you along the way. Xox

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  24. Joe, for sure! I think your points should be put in a Creative's "How to" manual. Funny and soooo true!

    Thanks for the good wishes. Am loving Chile. Will post photos on Facebook ASAP.

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  25. Terri, amen to your numbers 7 & 8! I laugh at myself all the time and am humbly grateful for my life and the skin I'm in.

    Thanks for adding to the list. Write on!

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  26. Oh, Basil. You never cease to entertain me! Let me get my nun chucks . . .

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  27. Clare, I love restless curiosity. That one trait seems the most mentioned. and, it sounds to me like those accusations are compliments!

    Ooooh, I'd love to see you fight dragons. Whatever do you wear??

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  28. I think I would have to wear silk pajamas under my gold and diamond encrusted armor.

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  29. I've got a million dollars here. You want it? It's yours. Come get it!!! I'm mad, mad I tell you...

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  30. Kathleen. Thirteen of the 29 comments are yours. That's friggin crazy, gal!

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  31. Great post Kathleen. I had run across that list sometime before but lost it. Great to see it again.

    I think I must have something - pre-Asperger's or some other little bit of mental illness. Just a touch. Or jus' teched as they say in the south.

    I lean toward #1 the Restless Curiosity most of all. My wife and friends accuse me of being way to reflective about everything too so I must have talent in #3, #5, and #6 too.

    Oddly, my worst is #4 Generating Ideas. I couldn't generate an idea of my own to save my life. I live in a constant state of idea block. My ideas come exclusively from being catalysed by external things - a moment in time, a look, a glance, a view - but once that happens, they click together in incredible ways.

    Now I just need a solution for my constant lack of butt-in-chair syndrome.

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  32. John R.M.--- you counted? That makes you crazier! But I would like that million. Please email me your address.

    Daniel, I'll answer you in this post because I don't want John to have to start counting again... The BIKHOK (butt in chair hands on keyboard) syndrome simply requires some crazy glue. Happy writing!

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  33. Hate to be a bit of a buzzkill on a fun blog but no one, yourself included, is referencing crazy or mental illness legitimatley.
    It seems you are equating discussing kooky, wacky and zany as synonymous with "crazy" or mentally ill. Such comparisons make for a misguided discussion.
    Sorry for the wet blanket but it is late enough that I likely have an audience of one.
    Using real definitions there are a great many people that are blessed with mental health who are hugely creative. Some individuals that suffer with mental illness may be wonderfully creative.
    I believe to suggest that creativity must come from mental illness is not a reasoned position.
    I think even Aristotle would agree if we all agreed on definitions and semantics

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  34. gotta admit though, those who ain't creative do have a tendency to opine that those who are ultra creative are different, odd, weird...or that they may even be referred to as crazy, nuts, or insane.

    Folks is in the eyes of others whatever them others think they is, that's the way it is, like it or spike it.

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  35. tjc---me thinks your wet blanket is very creative.

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  36. Interesting stuff, Thanks Kathleen.
    Basil - No doubt the ultra-creative are often called crazy or other. My dull point is that it ain't necessarily so (defining "crazy" non-euphemistically, i.e. mentally ill). I have no doubt you are a very creative, unique and independent soul. I do not think that requires that you suffer with poor metal health.

    Another elemnet on the list might be that creative people march to their own beat. They do not fear being 'different'. Creative and unique but not mentally ill.
    Best to all. may the creative vibe flourish, wherever it comes from!

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  37. Thanks for an interesting post! May I ask a favor? The blue writing looks good on the black background but for people who read kill zone on google reader, the background is white and the light blue is really hard to read. I know this isn't a big deal but wanted to bring that to your attention.

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