1669. Creativity, a theory


imageCarmichael, april 2016. All but one.

Creativity, a theory

Teaching a few years ago at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C. I challenged the students in the senior honors seminar to come up with a theory of creativity they could live with. We read things like Freud’s Interpretation and Otto Rank’s Art and Artist, some of Malraux. What we came up with went like this…

The human body rises up out of the earth, out of biology, toward to open air and towards the sky. That body is continually caught in the crosswinds of culture in the form of symbols exhorting us.

Those symbols more or less fit our own inner experience arising from the body. but there is always a mismatch, sometimes extreme, between received symbols and experienced body.

The normal person accepts these misfits between experience and culture.

But the artist does not. The artist worries this space of intersection between the arising inner experience and the culturally given symbols. The artist feels the mismatch as a violation of their life. In the intersection of symbol and experience they don’t match up.

Creativity is the struggle to create symbols that better express what is felt. For the artist this is a struggle of ethics, truth, beauty, integrity. It gets them up in the morning and can destoy sleep in the search for a better fit. Success is sweet.

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