©Copyright July, 2003
J. Bruce Evans
Recently I have been exploring my understanding of creativity--in particular, the nature and meaning of this human capacity in daily living. After several months of thinking and writing about the subject, I decided to look back through my earlier journals and see how my understanding had evolved over time.
This manuscript is a collection of my current perspectives (Part I), and some of my earlier writings (Part II) which led up to them. In reviewing the progression of my thoughts, I was struck by the evolution of my views on the relationship between human creativity and God.
By 1977 I had already come to think of God as creating, in contrast with popular perspectives which view him as a and/or the Creator; but I did not yet grasp the nature of human repression--in particular, the extent of our common denials and inevitable projections "out there," as onto "God" in religion, and onto various other images, such as, woman, in secular life.
During these intervening 26 years I have, fortunately, become more aware of the nature and extent of human repressions, my own in particular, and have hence come to see these forms of idolatry more clearly. At the same time I have also come to recognize some of the immense challenges inherent in living creatively as natural human beings.
Consequently, I am now more cognizant of these socially acceptable forms of what I see as idolatry, but, paradoxically, also more alert to the high prices we commonly pay in daily life for such projections. Older now, and less inclined to blindly try to "help others," I am hence more tolerant of the "faith" of others; but for myself, I aspire to continue facing my own repressions/projections of creative capacities which I now view as our common human inheritance.
One of my purposes is to try to free creativity from its typical confinement to "artists" in the popular sense of the term, and resurrect it as a goal for us average persons. Creativity is, I think, the best of being natural, the way we have evolved to be, rather than a special talent of only the gifted. All babies, as best I can tell, are born creative; we lose awareness of creativity through repression in service of social accommodation. Creativity, I think, is synonymous with being human. It's "just natural to be creative." Anybody can; not that creativity is simple, but that inherited genetic capacities make it possible for all.
Creativity, as I use the term here, is potentially related to all of life, nor simply to objects or visible forms, such as, paintings on canvass. Creative living includes, for example, eating, sleeping, thinking, feeling, deciding, and relating to other persons as well as the world subject to human perceptions.
Characteristics of creativity include: pleasure, invigoration, rejuvenation, and salvation. In reality (in Natural Theology), the closest we can come to godliness is in being creative.
To be present as a natural person is to be creative. To "show up" anywhere, anytime, as a natural human being--that is, unfettered by repression, is to be creative. Human creativity is as natural and inherent as breathing, eating, digesting food, and defecating--which is to say, everyone is inherently creative.
Creativity is not a rare gift or special talent of a few exceptional persons, but our universal heritage as human beings. The only rare thing about creativity is finding the courage to unrepress and return to the naturally creative state of all children--before repression sets in. As Jesus said, "Except ye become as little children, ye can in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven"--which is "here on earth" (in Natural Theology).
To truly show up--as we naturally are, is synonymous with being creative.
Creativity is the deepest and most universal of all natural human traits. We are born creative and live accordingly, until we acquiesce to personal repression as a mode of coping with the demands of civilization. Thereafter, as is the nature of repression, we project our inherited capacities for creativity "out there" onto various and assorted images, such as, mother, God, muses, angels, etc., who we then look to for supplying powers we have blindly given to them.
Evidences of this universal-but-largely-lost human capacity are sometimes recognized in those relatively rare persons we see as "artists," who are usually assumed to have either inherited special talents or else to be particularly blessed by gods or fate. In either case, the possibility that they may simply be mirroring a repressed capacity which is common to us all is often missed.
However, even recognized "artists" are usually very specialized, that is, exercise their creativity in small arenas of human life, such as, painting pictures, sculpting statues, writing novels, etc. Outside their limited specialities, such "artists" may be crude, lacking, or even bumbling in other arenas of ordinary life, such as, making a living, tending to business, and/or getting along positively with other human beings.
Although such specialized "artists" may express and give us ordinary folk a glimpse of natural creativity, we may also use them to evade seeing my premise here, namely, that we all have similar capacities for creative living in the larger sense of the term. Certainly some forms of artistry, like water-coloring or writing, may indeed involve unique or "special talents"; but, I hold, we are all born with the capacity for creativity in life. We may not all have what is required, for example, for molding clay into beautiful pottery, but we naturally have what it takes to mold both the world and ourselves in artistic living.
That is, before repression/projection sets in; and afterward--to the extent we succeed in unrepressing our natural selves, withdrawing projected powers, and returning again to "become as little children," only now with sophistication--that is, expanded knowledge of the larger world beyond genetic wisdom.
Whenever (or if) this becomes so, then the same creativity which we now see in "artists" with specialized skills will, I believe, be re-discovered in us all, and become applicable and expressed in the ordinary events of daily life--eating, shitting, fucking, creating meals, making money, inventing better mouse traps, shaping days, decorating spaces, tending to business, raising kids, and relating positively with one another.
All this I call creative living, or re-becoming artists of life.
In the writings which follow, I explore various aspects of human creativity as I have seen it so far.
Creativity is usually seen as a special talent only because of rarity in embracing this inherent human capacity. Commonly we repress natural creative-ability in quest of other-approval. In fact, creativity is nothing more than being fully present and consciously open to making decisions based on all available data from the past and present--genetic inclinations, previous learning, and current information.
Being creative is as natural as breathing; the true talent lies in escaping the bonds of repression with its lingering habits of denial, and profoundly "showing up, paying attention"--that is, being again "as a little child." We are non-creative because of the overwhelming burdens of repression which weigh heavily on us, preventing us, as it were, from "just being ourselves."
What is creative living or being creative in practice?
Deciding what to do based on a harmonized melding of all one's personal perceptions, past and present.
To be creative is to be present in each immediate circumstance with senses, emotions, and mind open and responsive to all perceivable data from past and present, that is, remembering prior experience, registering current perceptions, and merging past and present into one harmonious new whole.
At heart, being creative is an existential inner state, separate and apart from outward circumstances except for perceptual connections kept operative by continual sensitivity and response. Consequently, one can be creative without doing anything or being perceived as such by an outside observer.
However, because presence in an ever-changing world calls for continual adaptation, being creative is commonly transformed or expressed in assorted forms of doing. Such doing may be as simple as breathing (responding to need for oxygen), shifting bodily positions (allowing smoother blood flow), saying hello or hugging a friend (heartedly, of course), or as complex as painting a landscape on canvass or building a bridge. In either case, creativity is determined by and evidenced in the existential state of a creative person, not in the shape or form of what is done or said.
Common identification of creativity only with certain "art" forms (e.g., painting) is far too limiting for understanding creative living.
To be is to be creative. The essence of humanity is creativity. The apex of evolution (God's creation or Mother Nature's latest gift to humans) is consciousness, that is, the capacity for holding data in mind space and hence making novel (new) decisions based on more data than older genes hold. Creativity is the ability to change in reasonable accord with changing circumstances rather than being pre-determined by hard-wired genes; to adapt quickly as new data, made entertainable by consciousness, becomes available in each new instant of time.
Creativity is inherently exciting because of the genius of evolution, namely, pleasure evolved into what works best in service of genetic well being. Just as sugar tastes good and fucking feels good (in service of survival and replication), so creativity is even more thrilling because it activates the grandest of all human capacities--consciousness.
Creativity is empowering for the same reasons--power is automatically generated in activation of inherited capacities. We are moved, while being creative, not by gods or muses, but by juices of life which come to be when we dare embrace this latest gift of Mother Nature.
Consciousness is the basis, source, and medium of creative living--that is, being one's fullest self, animal plus more. Lower animals, pre-human, have the gift of wise instincts to move them adaptively (e.g., mother cats moving kittens after being discovered by humans); but only humans have the additional capacity for consciousness which makes rapid adaptations--which we call creativity, possible. We, if we embrace this gift, have both primal instincts, hard-wired directives, wise in primal necessities (survival and replication), and also advanced think-ability, soft-wired possibilities of smartness in dealing with data older genes are yet unable to register (e.g., virus, marriage, and social dangers).
To be animal is to be hard-wired by ancient instincts evolved long before any individual ape or fox is ever born. To be human is to begin with these same inherited directives, but to also have another grand gift of potential capacity, namely, for advanced degrees of consciousness which allow for speedier adaptations, called creativity--that is, novel changes within one individual's life time. Humans obviously benefit from evolution, even as other animals, yet are not dependent on eons of time for making needed changes.
That's the good news. We are all born with what all other animals have plus this magnificent possibility for consciousness and hence creativity.
But the bad news is that this gift is also threatening to Status Quo--present stability of circumstances (families, clans, groups, organizations, indeed civilization itself), and is hence easier to pervert against itself--that is, to use in service of preventing change rather than initiating it, to use in suppressing thought versus doing creative thinking, repressing consciousness versus activating it, like a snake biting its own tail.
Creative changes are for continued or enhanced satisfactions, not for sake of themselves. Change is not inherently good, nor is status quo necessarily bad, but continued satisfactions in evolving circumstances (ever-changing reality) call for continual creative adaptations if well being is to be maintained, and certainly so when greater satisfactions are desired.
Ultimately, being creative is an existential state--a way one is being, which is apart from any specific content or form of expression. One can be creative and not be doing anything--that is, making anything, saying anything, or going anywhere. Or, in contrast, one can be making, saying, going (doing) anything as an act of charade-of-being, without being creative at all. Which is to say that finally, being has no inevitable connection with any form of doing. I can be creative and do nothing, or do any conceivable action or deed without being at all creative.
But ultimates aside, being is in fact most always active and expressed in some forms of doing. One being creative is usually "making something"--that is, consciously engaged in sensing/feeling/thinking and translating these awarenesses into some mental/physical form, such as, shaping a desire, forming an emotion and/or idea, creating an image ("having a vision") and/or decoding it into a conception, deciding on something to say or do or some place to go which gives form and shape to a desire or vision ("making, doing, going, and/or saying something one feels like or chooses to").
Distinctions between being and doing arise primarily due to repression of being in service of socially favorable doing (acceptable "behavior"). Small children yet to be civilized remain unified, living creatively most of the time. As we may say of them, "What you see is what you get."
In largest perspective, the content or subject of all creativity is world/self making. In being creative we are at the same time making the world and ourselves. In giving imaged and/or tangible shape to personal perceptions, we both make the world (as knowable to ourselves) and ourselves as entities in the world.
Breaking the two apart in mind's eye (which is the only place they can be divided), we may summarize by saying that being creative is: a) making the world, and b) making ourselves. Otherwise, at least as far as we are personally concerned, neither the world nor I as a knowing entity exist at all. The world may be an it for others who are busy with their own creations, but insofar as I am concerned it ceases to be (or never is) when I do not create it for myself.
And likewise with me as an entity. I may exist and be known to others without being myself; but until or unless I dare the most creative of all human acts, namely, creating myself from the wealth of my perceptions, I, for all practical purposes, do not exist.
One may say, objectively speaking, that this is crazy talk. Obviously the world was already made long before any person; and theoretically the substance of each self is already made--or at least begun when conception occurs. But this, as I say, is "objectively speaking," as none of us, in effect, actually are.
Ultimately, in spite of our best efforts to be objective, we remain subjective about the world, and if lucky, become a contained self also. So far as each subjective individual is concerned, the world "out there" as well as "in here" only exists for us if and when we dare create it in acts of perception.
Although it is probably erroneous to say that "all is perception," it is truthful to say that "all I can know is what I perceive." The world may exist for others who dare such acts of creativity, but before it comes to be for me, I too must dare similar creative acts of world-making.
And so with self-making.
Past world/self as arenas for creativity, creative activities next tend to focus on: 1) Circumstances (materials and arrangements in the world), e.g., temperature, food, shelter, and available activities; 2) RelationshipsBliving arrangements with other humans, e.g., at home with family members, society in general, and in a second home or self-created relationships; 3) Objects or things, e.g., potentially useful inventions aimed at easing necessities of life, or seemingly pointless forms (e.g., paintings, sculptures, figurines, or what are typically known as "art forms"), which give outward shape/form to inward images with no particular use in mind. Such so-called art forms may have secondary purposes (e.g., making money by sale to others), but insofar as creativity is concerned they are essentially useless to the creating one beyond the process of their own creation. Such a creating one has no personal need to save or preserve; like a child coloring a picture, once done, creativity continually moves on to more creating.
Even though obviously novel acts and objects are more easily seen as creative, the vast majority of creative living is expressed in such daily and momentary decisions as: what will I do today, or in this present moment? What will I say to this person at this time? How much sugar will I put in my coffee? Or will I drink it black? Or not at all? When and what will I eat? Where will I sit or stand? When will I uncross my legs? Shall I look in another direction? What urges will I allow in awareness, and how long will I entertain each? What exercises will I do? When and how will I rest? When, how, and if I will make love? Etc., ad infinitum.
Creativity is basically an expression of natural life forces in all aspects of life; but for analysis these may be categorized in several ways:
First and most basically there is the creative activity of giving form and substance to one's genetic heritage, the unique-in-all-the-world combination of genes which began when father's sperm was embraced by mother's ovum--that is, when inherited propensities are, via capacity for consciousness, brought to shape as personal perceptions--sights, sounds, smells, etc, plus emotions, images, and/or conceptions emerging from them. Self , or I-as-individual, is made in all these interwoven creative activities.
As such, self is a product of consciousness--insights brought into awareness and recognized as unique. Ultimately, self is a metaphor, a language form created for purposes of thought and communication, not truly an object or entity, an "it," except in left brain endeavors.
In genetic perspectives, self is inherited or given; literally speaking, it is allowed to be in practice what it already is in potential, not made up ex nihilo as by a god out of nothing. In this realistic sense, we have no choice about who we will be, only if we will become what we are already created capable of being by virtue of conception in mother's womb.
But the gift of consciousness also allows an alternate possibility, namely, making up a "self" from created images rather than natural perceptions--an "imaginary" self, we might accurately call it. For clarity and distinction, I prefer the name ego for such an imagined entity, since it may or may not correlate with our actual genetic perceptions. Usually it is in effect manufactured for purposes of fitting in more easily with inherited circumstances (mother, family, etc.) than risking activation of one's inherited self. We learn early to "send in the clown (ego)" when we learn that "it" (the act) works better, at least temporarily, than our actual, gene-created self, in satisfying instinctive needs.
"Things" formed, "its" outside our skin, beginning with "poo poo" and later in modeling clay, "coloring," toy arrangements, personally shaped materials, assorted inventions, including trophies and wealth, make up the second arena for personal creativity in the world.
Next comes forming assorted alliances with other unique selves (plus egos) outside ourselves, beginning with parents, expanding to siblings, relatives, neighbors, etc, and then into the wider world of society.
And then there are potential arrangements of worldly objects and systems in accord with self and/or ego shapes, e.g., house, work, activities (sports, hobbies, etc.), organizations, memberships, political alliances, etc.
Summary: Life-making or living (in all aspects) creatively is the natural state of evolved humanity--barring, that is, repression in quest of social acceptance (bowing to the meme, What They Think).
Living creatively, or being creative, involves moving freely within these overlapping arenas in each instant of time and every inch of space when/wherever one finds him/her self, in accord with consciously made decisions based on a reasonable merging of all data from each element of one's self--that is, camping down in any immediate endeavor, circumstance, or relationship, as long as desired satisfactions emerge in the process; but then changing quickly in accord with newly appearing data, insights, and evolving events, wasting no time or energy in fruitless judgments, regret, disappointments, complaints, blaming, clinging, or self-pity, but rather daring to move openly into each new situation with all capacities alert and operative--that is, flying as skillfully as possible in whatever planes are available, but always by the seat of one's pants.
In fewer words: showing up fully present as oneself wherever you happen to be.
The goal of a self-acknowledging person is creative living--that is, living creatively in the world where one finds him or herself. Creative implies shaping the world--beginning with oneself and extending to circumstances, including other persons, to fit one's inherited uniqueness as nearly as possible.
In contrast, while ego goals are ultimately the same, in practice they seek these ideals through other persons or images rather than via personal endeavors. Ego aims, in largest perspective, at self-enhancement via other-acknowledgment--that is, at selfing second hand. Ego looks for affirmation from others rather than through personal initiative. As with self-acknowledgment, efforts are finally aimed at self-satisfaction; but the path taken is indirect instead of straight-forward.
For example, salvation ("well-being") is sought through the efforts of others; personal "work" is only in securing the affirmation, favor, attention, and services of those deemed to hold saving powers. In religion, the "others" are the gods (e.g., Jesus); one seeks ultimate happiness ("heaven") by striving to gain their services, for example, by "believing" in them and "behaving" in ways they are said to approve.
In secular life, the gods of ego salvation are local--that is, "significant others," such as, mothers, peers, lovers, spouses, and elusive "public opinion." The procedure, however, remains the same: happiness is sought indirectly through the roundabout path of pleasing them first, with the hidden (often to oneself at the time) agenda of gaining personal well-being from them. Such an ego-directed man, for example, may strive for personal satisfactions through trying to please a woman who is, in effect, viewed as a goddess with powers to "make him happy" is he can only please her sufficiently.
Ideal creative living for a self-acknowledging person--that is, one who seeks satisfaction first hand, directly rather than through gods (either "up there" or imaged in other persons), can be broken down for thought purposes into three arenas: self, circumstances, and others. A self-acknowledging person, not fleeing into ego, seeks to shape ("make") himself first of all, then the impersonal world of "things" around him, and finally the people who are a part of his perceived world.
In practice the three become so intertwined as to be relatively indistinguishable; but for analysis we may consider each separately. First, there is self-creation--that is, giving shape and form to inherited personal capacities--including those shared with all other human beings, plus the smaller number of unique traits occasioned by individual combinations of genes from particular parents.
Self-creation is daring to translate genetic directivesBboth those shared with all other persons, as well as those unique to one's own body, into "forms" in the world, that is, into actions and objects. Shared directives, which make up the larger part of inherited selfing capacities (for being persons rather than, for example, male or female only), can be generally summarized as our primary instincts--for survival and replication. Unique directives, the smaller part of who-we-are, begin with gender differences (male or female) and extend to personal "quirks" of inheritance, occasioned by the unique-in-all-the-world combination of genes resulting from sex by our particular parents.
We are, that is, in largest measure immensely common--like all other humans, with instinctive drives to survive and reproduce ourselves, yet at the same time with our own unique "flavors" or entirely individual traits of personality, character, and ability. I, for example, am mostly "just like everyone else" in what I need and want as a human being. I "put my pants on one leg at the time," need air and food, and want sex and pleasure. But I am also, to a lessor extent, a particular Evans from Saline--that is, I have certain gifts of inheritance from John Owen Evans and Constance Coker which are different from those of any other person yet born into the world. My self-creating, when I dare self-acknowledgment rather than slipping into an ego state where everything is sought second hand, involves choosing to regularly seek satisfaction of my shared human instincts as well as my individual inclinations. I try to "be myself," both as a pre-gendered human and a male-type person, along with my unique "flavors" for each.
By nature of genetic capacities in an ever-evolving world, who-I-am is constantly in flux, never static for more than a split second. With each new perception--when I dare "pay attention," that is, continually acknowledge what I am "getting," I have more data for expanding/changing the ways I act in the world--for being, that is, who-I-am. Self-creating is literally, as the participle implies, an on-going process, ever-new as information from new perceptions continually comes.
Self-acknowledgment is itself a process in which all personal perceptions are allowed in awareness, thereby becoming the basis for selfing or "being oneself." When I acknowledge or "let on to" what I actually perceive, then I am always expanding, as it were, my database of knowledge to be included in the next version of my continually-being-created (and re-created) self.
The human, pre-Evans, aspects of my self-creating include efforts to get genetic requirements for survival (air, food, shelter) and its enhancement (comfort and pleasure rather than pain), plus moves aimed at self-replication ("sexiness"). My unique capacities, the quirks of Joe Bruce Evans merged into my shared commonness, are given shape when I put my personal "touch" on the above endeavors, plus seek satisfactions which may not be the same for any other person in the world.
The second element in creative living is shaping the world outside myself in accord with my personal instincts and inclinations--that is, trying to make "things (objects and circumstances)" fit or conform as much as possible to my fulfilled selfing. In crudest form this involves: a) getting as much of what I naturally want as I possibly can; b) doing what pleases me as often and as long as I can; and c) changing the nature of circumstances to maximize my satisfactions as fully as I can. In small children these efforts may clearly be seen when they struggle--including grasping, crying, kicking, and screaming, to "get what they want when they want it." Later on, they may be recognized (or not!) in efforts to con parents (who largely make up a child's early world) into being personal slaves and providers of every desired resource (toys for fun, as well as food and comfort).
In early times of life, before other persons are recognized as individuals like oneself, they are apparently viewed simply as other "objects" in the world, only more pliable and useful than, say, a toy in the crib. A self-acknowledging infant will therefore seek to use parents, beginning with "mother," as just another "thing" in the world to be used in self-creating efforts, now including "world-shaping" for escalated personal satisfactions.
Other people are extremely important both to self-acknowledging persons as well as those caught up in various ego states--but for radically different reasons and in very differing ways. Self-acknowledging ones see others as a significant part of the world beyond oneself, but not different in principle from the inhuman world of elements, materials, and things. Other people are recognized and related to in the same manner as other animals and objects in nature--that is, as kindred parts of the external world to be respected, honored, utilized, and also affirmed for themselves. Just as perceptions of inward experiences and outward objects are recognized and acknowledged in consciousness, so are perceptions of other persons who are seen as living elements among other less lively forms of life.
In self-acknowledgment, other persons are viewed objectively (like other inhuman objects)--that is, perceived realistically as they in fact present themselves to one. They are neither elevated nor debased ("looked up to" or "down on"), but seen in the light of actual perceptions. For self-acknowledging persons there are no personified gods or devils, either of a religious or secular nature--that is, in the sky or on the earth. Some persons are obviously more significant to oneself (such as, family members, lovers, etc.) than are other unrelated people; but all are related to as other human beings, no better or worse in a moral or ethical sense, than oneself.
But from the perspective of ego, others are seen (related to, even if unrecognized as such) in a significantly different manner. Whereas they are functionally ("realistically") relevant to self-acknowledging ones, others are magically important when we exist in ego states. They are, we might say, "all important" since they become the only source of real acknowledgment, indeed, of personal salvation. In the absence of self-acknowledgment, other-acknowledgment is the only affirmation there is.
The "other" may be an animal, such as, a pet dog, or even a plant which seems to respond favorably to our attention; but the most telling (and seemingly saving) kinds of affirmation come from other human beings--in the forms of recognition, attention, response, compliments, awards, trophies, and if we are extremely lucky, love. Other people, when we are bound up in ego and hence cut off from self-acknowledgment, become critically important for every aspect of good living, beginning with re-cognition (affirming our cognition), acceptance (affirming our feelings), understanding (affirming our thinking), and favor (affirming our existence), but extending on to services and caring, since we are always deficient in response-ability (and therefore self-responsibility) when we are not acknowledging our own perceptions.
Because the extent of self-repression commonly goes unrecognized when we are caught up in ego--that is, expending life energies in "trying to be" an image which in reality we are not, the essentially selfish nature of "egotistical" endeavors (summarized as, trying to please and "be liked" by others rather than oneself), also remains unseen. With repression of self-acknowledgment, actual powers of self are inevitably projected "out there"--either onto gods in the sky (as in religion) or "goddesses," et al, on earth (as in idolized mothers or adored lovers).
Then, as is well known, we devote the same energies which would otherwise be utilized in self-acknowledgment and self-creating activities, into seeking our lost affirmation from those onto whom we have unwittingly projected the powers for doing so ourselves. In what turns out to be ultimately vain attempts (as best I can tell) to get back from others what is missing in ourselves, we commonly turn to various forms of worship, adoration, idolization, and service as means of trying to con our gods--heavenly or earthly, into providing the acknowledgment, along with the rewards of same, which we have denied within ourselves.
While other people, to a self-acknowledging one, are seen in the same perspective as other inhuman elements in the world--that is, as a part of what is perceived outside one's own skin, they are in fact often viewed more carefully because of their greater potential for self satisfaction. Although not seen as magical, as they are from an ego perspective, they are recognized as being far more complex than, say trees or other inanimate objects, and therefore capable of providing expanded stimuli for perception (and encounter). They are more than other perceivable "objects," but not better or worse--that is, blindly imbued with magical ("unrealistic") powers (as is inevitably with self-repression and projection when one is in an ego state).
Any person, for example, is potentially more stimulating than any tree (or other inhuman object) simply because he or she, like ourselves, brings vastly more perceivable substances to our presence--e.g., emotions, changing reactions, agendas of their own, etc. They, in effect, are inherently more "tickling" of the whole range of our evolved senses than are other external entities. No "thing" invites as much natural response as any other human being. Any lively person is "more stimulating" than even the best of animate pets or inanimate objects--at least when we are not inhibited by acquired ego identifications.
Also, because of the nature of community (group membership) of all persons ("no man is an island....") we humans are, like it or not, inextricably interwoven by evolution. We exist in many types of human connections, all the way from gene pools to family to community to clan to country, etc. Although we may falsely see ourselves as independent individuals, in fact we inherently exist-in-relationships. Ego may blind us to these facts, but any self-acknowledging person cannot but continually recognize the reality of inter-connectedness of human beings.
This means, in practice, that we not only "need each other" for supplies, protection, and services, but also for maximizing the nature of our encounters with the world. As any child knows before falling into an ego state, other people are simply "more fun to play with" than are inanimate toys or even animal pets. Made like ourselves, they more completely invite our own fuller responses than any lessor-capacitied entity. Young children, yet without an ego to protect or promote, naturally seek human over object encounters because of the greater self-stimulation they provide.
And then, of course, there are pragmatic values in human relationships, desired things we can get from other people better than from any pet or toy--services and resources we need for enhanced satisfaction. We have good and healthy genetic and personal reasons for seeking community acceptance (beginning with our own mothers) because of ever-changing levels of inter-dependence--all the way from milk from mothers to grades from teachers to acceptance from lovers to jobs from employers. Because so many resources required for personal existence, let alone well-being, are best available from other persons in the communities in which we all live, "other-acceptance" is crucially important for gaining these benefits.
Finally there are the inevitably costs of rejection by those who do indeed hold keys to these resources--beginning with mother's disapproval, peer disfavor, teacher failures, religious excommunication, and civil punishments, including incarceration, even death. Striving to get and keep the acceptance and approval of all those who do in fact make up "our world" is only a reasonable thing to do. It "makes sense," not for reasons of virtue or even duty, but for sheer selfing concerns, to remain within the "good graces" of those in our various inter-dependent communities.
But perhaps more relevantly than for all the above noted reasons, we need other people for the expanded self-delights inherent in creative encountering, "helping," and loving them. Paradoxically, greater selfing comes in artful relationships with other human beings. We can certainly "be ourselves" alone and enjoy encounters with objects, plants, and animals, as well as "making things" in private; but other persons invite the fuller becoming of ourselves, simply because of expanded stimuli they bring to our encounters with the world.
Self-love, contrary to logic and popular thinking, finds its grander fulfilment in other-love. We can, as best I can tell, never be more of ourselves than when we dare get involved in loving any other person--not because it is a virtuous thing to do, but simply because of the greater call it provides for self activation. Nothing--no thing or activity, is more inherently challenging for fuller self-presence than is loving another human being--any one of them. Doing private things can be fun; making objects is naturally satisfying; but creating positive encounters with other persons is potentially the most exciting and fulfilling of all our human options. "Just meeting" someone who is human like ourselves invites more self-presence than doing things privately; but add the options of "creative encounter," "helping," or, ideally, loving, and the potential for self-becoming expands exponentially.
In ego states, other-love is inherently virtuous, a "good," indeed, the best of all things to do. To love others, rather than oneself, is the highest religious and social virtue. But in sharp contrast with the love of self-acknowledgment, ego love is based on the unnatural premise that the two stand in opposition to each other--that whereas other-love (e.g., "Christian love") is the ideal virtue, self-love, viewed as "selfishness," is negative, bad, even sinful. For example, serving others ("being helpful"), as in putting them first, is good; but serving oneself ("putting yourself first") is bad. Self-sacrifice, that is, negating self in the process of elevating others, becomes the highest evidence of "loving others."
But the type of love which is the apex of self-acknowledgment attempts no such illogical dichotomy. Both are rooted in the same natural (genetic) urge for maximum self-satisfaction (greater pleasures/lessor pains). The second is not different or better than the first, only the larger expression of the first. Self-loving is, in effect, but the beginning basis for expanding into other-loving. As the Bible teaches in the "great commandment": "Thou shalt love others as ye love yourselves"--not in contrast or rather than loving yourself. Other-loving is like an overflow of self-loving brought to it maximum, not an act done in opposition to the best of being oneself.
Nor is "loving things (pets, plants, objects, or deeds)" any different in principle from "loving others." Both are but expansions of self-acknowledgment brought to its fullest in-skin awareness and then directed beyond onself to the world at large (including its elements, animals, plants, and people). It is not, for instance "better" to love people than to love plants; it is only different in terms of degrees of potential for self-fulfillment involved. It is more rather than "gooder." Any person invites more of my presence--if I am truly loving, than does any plant or private activity. Certainly, when I am exceptionally nervy, I may be finely loving when I am alone with a task; but another person, with his or her greater capacities for inviting my fuller perceptions, easily invites my larger presence in expanded loving.
The difference between more familiar ego love popularized in religion and society, and the love of self-acknowledgment I am attempting to describe here, may also be recognized in the premise and modes of each type. Ego love always presumes to know ahead of time what is "best" for the loved one--what they need, want, should have and become. Although the self-righteousness of ego-type lovers is seldom recognized by those caught up in it (they see themselves as "being good"), it tends to become evident when the looked-down-on one being "loved (served, helped, saved, etc.)" does not respond as expected or with "appreciation." Then, the wrath of such self-righteous, world-saving ones tends to become evident in their rejections which may be even more diligent than earlier efforts to "help."
Self-acknowledging love, in contrast, makes no such presumptions about how a loved one "should" respond at any time. Since the goal is simply fuller self-becoming in the process of loving another, there are no expectations projected onto those being loved. Specifically, as is the nature of agape (highest love) as I understand it, self-acknowledging ones engage in accepting, affirming, and freeing others (including the inhuman world) without self-righteous pre-judgments about how they (or it) should respond or who they may become. In this type of natural love, in contrast with ego-based righteousness, one dares to face the unknowns of whatever the effects of freeing (non-possessive) love may be.
Since its purpose lies within the event of itself--that is, expanded self-acknowledgment, there is no need for later reward, either in the "improvement" or appreciation of one being "helped," or in the promise of eventual reward by the gods for "being good." "Love," we might say, for one who is acknowledging his larger self, rather than "trying to be good" in order to get rewarded later (e.g., in "heaven" if one is religious), "is its own reward."
Loving "others," which always comes in relationship with some particular "other" at the time, may also be recognized as the highest form of self-creating. In events of expanded self-loving into an overflow of other-loving, we miraculously, as it were, create our fuller selves. We, in so loving, expand the extent of who we are. Via agape, we become even more of who we have "been created"--that is, evolved, to become.
Perhaps clarifying self-creating itself will make this clearer to me. I trace its process beginning with arranging non-human circumstances or "making things" in the world.
"Making things" without directions, recipes, or prior knowledge of "how it should be done" is self-creating--that is, one of the ways we bring our unique selves into being in the world. Whenever we give outward form and shape to inward visions, inclinations, urges, and desires, that is, images emerging from personal perceptions, we in effect "make ourselves." Whether the shaped "object" be some circumstance, such as, causing our mother to come to us and/or respond favorably, or some material, like molding a bit of modeling clay into a form, or "coloring like we want to" on a sheet of paper (or the wall!), in each such self-chosen event we also create ourselves into being. The form itself--the tending mother, the glob of clay, or the red scribbling, will be the shape of our projected image; but it is we ourselves who are created in the process.
In such acts of freedom and courage one becomes himself. Apart from these acts of creation, self does not exist. "I" only come to be when and to the degree that I am creating thusly. Otherwise, what you see is an automaton of society (beginning with mother), a meme-made entity (an "ego") cut off from its genetic heritage.
What one makes in this way is relatively irrelevant to the creative process itself; it may be a circumstance, a gingerbread man, red and yellow circles, a painting, a piece of furniture, a tennis game, an encounter, or a relationship. It only matters that I make it from the materials of my own perceptions, the substance of my personal desires.
The wondrous-though-challenging, and perpetually exciting alternative to either openly imagining or secretly longing for an omnipotent world-making god (or goddess) is daring to embrace the innate-though-commonly-repressed human capacity for responsibly creating our own worlds in consort with one another.
Such faith-requiring acts of world and self creation are rooted in natural capacities for self-acknowledgment, and are consequently unavailable to us except to the extent of risked unrepression, withdrawn projections, and embraced powers-to-be, with which we are, I think, all born.
Creating the world can be broken down for thought purposes into three major arenas: making things, spaces, and relationships. In practice the three are commonly intertwined; but for purposes of analysis the divisions may be useful.
First, there is making things, objects, or discrete entities easily distinguished from other perceptions. Perhaps the earliest act of creation in this category is making "do do," ("poo poo," or excrement). Before this personal event of shit-making, all other things must be either made by others or else just magically appear. But when an infant first begins to realize (Is this the birth of consciousness?) that he can make "poo poo" all on his own, personal creativity must be at its beginning. This must also be the genesis of self-making. Perhaps the euphemism "do do," which literally implies "making" doubled, comes from a primal recognition of this fact.
It must seem to a child that making "do do" is ex nihilo--that is, "out of nothing," as we traditionally imagine our gods and goddesses create. The length of time between eating and drinking, plus the invisibility of digestive processes, and the event of "having a bowel movement" would likely prevent any connection between the beginning and ending of this process, thus making it seem to be a magical act which the child will eventually begin to have some personal control over. Also, since parents typically begin to affirm (compliment, "make a big deal of") "do doing," it must further seem to a child's emerging consciousness that he does indeed "do it" on his own--which is, of course, what creativity is all about.
I further speculate that one of the older and, as best I can tell, near universal naming of shitting as "do doing" is more than coincidental. "Doing," obviously, implies an act of personal choice. If I "do" it (make the shit), then in the absence of other information about eating and digesting food, the language of adults must confirm the illusion that "I" literally "did (created or made)" it. Also, coming to see excrement as "it"--that is, a thing beyond oneself, must further confirm this sense of personal creation in acts of "do doing."
Soon, of course, making things extends beyond the limited sphere of defecation and begins to include other materials "out there" which are subject to handling and molding. Perhaps grasping ("molding") food in a dish comes next, along with spitting it our or throwing a spoon to the floor. In each such act, personal initiative is given form in the world. Even before language is available for such creative acts the sense of "I did it" must be taking shape in consciousness. "I made the mushy ball of Pablum." "I made the sound of the spoon hitting the floor." Etc.
As motor skills and availability of materials are expanded, so do the possibilities of making other things. Soon crayons and pencils will allow making "paintings" and "drawings," preferably on paper, but even more creatively on walls and tables. The addition of modeling clay to a child's available materials allows the beginning of other creative shapes and forms.
Skipping longer periods of time, eventually things may include various crafts like cooking (making food), carpentry (making objects), sculpting (making statues), painting (making pictures), decorating (making rooms beautiful), etc.
Which leads me to the second expansion of world making, namely, creating spaces in the world--that is, arranging materials ("things") and circumstances in accord with personal choices. At first these acts of space-making may be limited to moving toys and other nearby objects--grasping or pushing away, ordering, or otherwise putting a personal touch on objects at hand. Space-making will eventually phase into "playing house," "making roads," "building forts," "digging holes," and other activities which allow one to shape things in the world into forms of one's own choosing.
Space-making will expand to include chosen activities ("doing things") which are shaped in time along with inanimate objects in forming world circumstances fitted to personal desires. Later these space-making choices will include games and vocations, along with everyday efforts to make the world conform more closely with individual desires and visions.
Other people become the third arena for personal world making--that is, relationships with other humans first seen as objects (like all other "things" in the world). Initially, of course, all "other people" are represented in one's own mother. Immediately after birth every child, whose entire destiny must seem to lie at the breasts and in the hands of a goddess eventually to be called "mother," begins to participate in what might accurately be called "mother-making." With all his or her limited resources--moving, cooing, crying, and eventually smiling, a baby will wisely begin to try to shape the actions of this all-powerful figure in accord with personal desires. He will, if you please, try to create his mother "in his own image," that is, to conform as nearly as possible to his instinctive wishes.
And m-other making will soon drop the m and simply become other-making--that is, creative efforts to make all other persons in the world, beginning with father, siblings, relatives, then friends, peers, and even enemies, conform to personal desires. An un-socialized child will naturally approach all human relationships just as he does other things and spaces in the world, that is, as material for world-making "in his own image."
When "daddy" enters the scene, along with "mother," a natural infant will expand initial creativity in "relationships" to include this second "other." Then brothers and sisters, if any, will soon be included in these instinctive efforts to shape things, spaces, and people in accord with personal desires (inherited instincts).
The common adult observation that children "want what they want when they want it" is nothing more than an accurate description of the natural human inclination for creating the world out of our own images. When a child does not quickly bend toward social conformity, that is, to repression of instinctive creativity, we may describe him or her as "spoiled." But so-called "spoiled children" may more accurately be seen as natural creators who are simply slow to let go of (repress) our common inheritance of world-making capacities.
In summary: creating a world in accord with images formed from personal perceptions, themselves informed by inherited senses and urges, is a universal human capacity--the most significant and powerful of all our gifts from Mother Nature. Such world-making occurs in three distinguishable arenas which all overlap in practice: making things, spaces, and relationships to fit, as best we can, our personal visions rooted in a unique-in-all-the-world combination of genes from our fathers and mothers.
In the process of creating the world out of our own images, we also create ourselves as unique individuals in the world. We don't, of course, make the stuff (DNA, etc.) which gives shape and form to our birthed bodies; but we do, if we dare, create our own individuality from these inherited materials. While focused, as our eyes and other senses are evolved to function, "out there" on "things" in the world (making the world), we are also making ourselves at the same time.
In practice the two creative endeavors are essentially the same, inextricably intertwined. In making the world to fit our images, we also create our universally unique selves. Animals without consciousness and babies before consciousness becomes operative are being themselves; but only we humans have the capacity (as best I can tell) both to become and to know of ourselves as "selves."
Such "self-knowledge" only became possible when consciousness finally evolved on the human scene (10-15,000 years ago?). Our enlarged human brains eventually came to allow us to both know, as do other creatures, and to also know-that-we-know,--that is, to "hold knowledge in mind space" and perhaps to delay instinctive reactions. This capacity for "remembering" or "holding information" about the world without immediately translating it into action--as instincts urge us to do, gave rise to the possibility of also holding data about ourselves in the world. Remembered world-knowledge (e.g., what mother did when I smiled rather than cried) phases into remembered self-knowledge (e.g., I felt better when I nursed longer, or when I shitted).
As such experiential learning expands (e.g., I could wield more power with mother by delaying bowel movements to when I was sitting on a pot), so does self-knowledge. The more I find out I can do in the world (to manage or control--that is, "make my world"), the more I find out I am a unique "doer" or self-who-does in the world as distinguished from the world itself.
This is the beginning of the sense of "I" as apart from "it," self as separate from world. What may begin with simple awareness, itself made possible with emerging consciousness, that "I" have some control over my "do do," rather than being the same as it, sets the stage for the birth of self soon after the birth of body--that is, of my sense of myself as a separate self instead of simply an undifferentiated part of the world at large, beginning with mother.
All this occurs, of course, before the time of language--of words to give mental shape to these personal experiences of creating the world and "selfing" in it. Prior to speech for voicing existential happenings, there is only being itself--that is, world and self-making in emerging consciousness, yet without language for "thinking about it" or "saying so."
This recognition of the difference between being ourselves and thinking/talking about a self to be is critical for understanding one of the most universal errors related to self. Being oneself is a crucially important existential matter in the world apart from language; but "having" a self to be is only a matter of thought and talk, potentially relevant to expanded being, but also fraught with serious dangers.
Since our language is constructed from nouns and verbs, based on the premise of things in time and space, then to use it we must first construct nouns for every human experience--in this case, for the experience of being oneself. There, we have already done so! The noun, for language purposes, for the experience of personal being, is "self." "I"--who find existence in acts of world-making, can be represented for speech purposes with the name self.
This clears the way for the second major language form, namely, verbs. Nouns name things and verbs tell what things do. What (who) does the world-making acts? Self does. Since nouns name things which do other things, they are basically seen as discrete entities, "its" which may also be referred to with other language forms called articles, such as, a and the. Self then can properly be seen within our language structures as a self or the self--that is, as a discrete entity such as other nouns, like, tree or dog. A self, consequently, insofar as our language implies, is an object among other objects, a thing even as a tree or dog is another thing.
So far, so good. That we learn to speak clearly within the confines of our inherited language structures is essential for human relationships and practical for private thinking as well. But it is just here that language limitations begin to impose dangers on human understanding. Thinking and speaking of a self, as though it were a separable entity in the world like other named objects, such as, trees and dogs, is all well and good for mind and communication; but taken literally, rather than as figurative language, the notion of a self as an entity, for instance, as separable from body, is as dangerous (for clear understanding) as its opposite idea, namely, of a body divisible from self.
In reality--that is, in the world apart from language structures, there is, as best I can tell, only selfing, the lively process of being ourselves. Paradoxically, at least from the perspective of language, there is no actual self (as a discrete entity) to be! This, of course, defies the logic of language. How could we be ourselves if there were no self to be? Within the language premise of things in space, if anything happens some other thing must cause it to happen. Every verb (action) requires a noun (named it) to "make" it happen. Actions cannot simply occur--at least in our language perspectives, without other "things" to cause them. So if, logically speaking, "I-am-doing-things," then there has to be an "I" or "self" who is doing them.
Well, so much for accepted language when we come to understanding the reality of self. In the world before, during, and after speech, self, I conclude, only exists in the process of some individual human being his or her unique combination of inherited genes. For this process I have coined the participle selfing, as my way of trying to think more clearly about who I essentially am. Paradoxically in language, I am selfing, but I am not a self. I exist as a noun only for purposes of thought and communication; otherwise, as when I "quit thinking and/or talking," such as, "caught up in" creating or falling asleep, I cease to exist as a separable entity, a self. I am, literally speaking, while selfing (engaged in world-making); otherwise, I am not.
The ramifications of this belabored distinction are immense in popular understanding which is quite the contrary. Most commonly we learn to think, within our inherited language structures, of ourselves as separable entities like other common nouns rather than processes which I call selfing. In religious perspectives self is seen as soul; but in both popular psychology and religion the shared notion of a self or soul to have and be, plus to "go somewhere" after the separable body dies, is certainly widespread.
Perhaps another language matter, namely, the idea of possession may throw light on this same issue. With the premise of objects in space and time, the notion of one thing "having (possessing)" another becomes reasonable and expected. Just as "every thing has to be some where (place in space)," so every object is subject to possession by some other object. "I," for instance, as just another "it," can reasonably assume that I "have (own or possess) a self or soul (or even a body). Once I presume existence as a separable entity, as our language guides me to do, I can logically go the next step and conclude that "I" must have a self/soul, for instance, in "my" body or brain.
While this train of thought is logical within our language structure, it is, I think, existentially erroneous. Outside of speech and talk, I may be selfing, but I do not have a self to be. There is no own-able entity (self, soul, personality) residing anywhere--in body, brain, or ether. Selfing, potentially is; but a self to have, there is not--so far as I can tell.
In sharp contrast, ego is in fact an entity, a self-created mental object which one does indeed have and can use, promote, protect, defend, advance, etc., just as with any other possession.
Past a minimal number of basic guides, most habits stifle creativity. All too easily they become excuses for not showing up with senses open and responsive to immediate circumstances. Certainly we need not re-invent the wheel at every turn of life; but being creative calls for quick changeability in light of ever-new perceptions.
Habits and creativity are antithetical; to the degree that a habit is operative, to that same extent creativity is not possible. Creativity, by nature of itself, cannot take place by habit, just as any habit, by nature of itself, is the opposite of creating. When I am acting-out a habit, I am not creating; when I am creating, habits have been superceded.
By habit I refer to any pre-programmed or automatic behavior. A habit has a predictable script; one living-out a habit is doing something by rote. No conscious thought is required. One simply "does" a habitual action "without paying attention." A habit is like a conditioned response--as in Pavlov's dog's conditioned to salivate at the sight of food. A behavior learned in the past is simply repeated in the present.
Creativity, on the other hand, can never be "conditioned" or acted out by rote. It is always present-tense--that is, being "made up" at the time out of response to immediate circumstances. Habits are, in effect, in time, while creativity is in-the-moment, "out of" or "beyond time." Not that clocks don't continue to tick while creativity is in progress, but one who is creating is existing beyond the dimension of time; he is "out of" dictation by clock or determination by time.
Habits include all actions which fall within the dimension of human choice--or at least did before they were established and thereby removed from conscious determination. Many human actions are in fact automatic and hence predictable, as are habits, but are not included in this definition. For example, circulating blood is literally a habit in that it occurs without conscious thought; breathing is similar, except that some degree of personal choice can briefly enter in--as when one "holds his breath." But in this study I exclude all such bodily functions which take place automatically, even though they may be partially controlled or influenced by choice. I also exclude automatic actions, such as, jerking a hand out of fire, which are apparently genetically ingrained by now. In addition I exclude any habitual actions, such as writing with the right hand, which are probably genetically determined with little or no room for personal choice.
Habits, as discussed here, are ways-of-functioning which were once chosen, indeed may even have been creative at the time of their genesis, but have since become as though ingrained because of repeated practice (like "conditioned responses"). We do them now "without thinking," that is, automatically ("knee-jerk") without taking into account present circumstances. With any habit, it is as though the circumstances which were present when it was first formed are still the same. For example, when I automatically put on my pants, left leg first, or thread my belt to the left rather than the right, I am acting now "without thinking" as though circumstances where still the same as when I first began to dress myself.
I illustrate with benign or relatively unimportant habits because they are easier to recognize; but I am primarily referring to more complex human actions, such as, patterns of behavior which include many such smaller segments--for example, ways of reacting to one's opposite gender, e.g., to pretty girls or older women. Habits, as defined here, include any such complex "reactions" which are predictable based on extended observations of the same person--or within oneself when observed over a period of time. Other examples include: automatic reactions to parents, children, or spouse which occur "without thinking" and are consequently predictable to an observing person. Children, for instance, often know parents habits far better than do parents who may even believe themselves to be handling situations creatively.
Habits which are particularly relevant to creativity, that is, more likely to curtail or prevent creative behavior, include those related to fear or threat. In the beginning, learning effective ways of responding quickly to dangerous situations is extremely relevant and apt to be creative at first. But once such a "way" is learned, even though it was effective in the beginning, it may become quickly outmoded in reality--which always includes changing elements even when the overall circumstances are the same. For example, learning to respond quickly to threats from a goddess-like mother in any way which preserves the well-being of a child is creative in the beginning; but keeping on reacting in the same manner until it becomes habitual excludes the possibility that mothers sometimes change, as well as the fact that children certainly do in time.
Furthermore, for a boy to react to other women just as he learned to do by habit with his mother, is sure to exclude creativity in relationships. Although there are no doubt many similarities between most women, they are immensely unique, as is any boy outside the patterns of behavior he first learned with his birth mother. Hence, creative behavior with females outside home will certainly require a suspension of habits learned at home--even though they may have been cleverly creative when they were being learned.
Other habits which I find to be unusually dangerous to creativity are those related to getting "turned on" or "turned off." Both, by definition, are automatic reactions--habits of behavior, which are inherently different from creativity. When I am "turned on" by a person, a bodily part, or a situation, I may "feel creative" in the sense that creativity and excitement often occur together; but in reality, creativity is always an act of inward faith, never a conditioned reaction to, for example, a woman's breasts or any other "attraction." I mean nothing negative about such attractions, only to note here that I think these automatic responses, even though delightful at the time, are distinctly different from creative behavior. I may be more genetically inclined, and hence outside the realm of habits as defined here, to react positively to "ripe" femininity than, say, to "old women," but I think that the major elements in such "turn ons" are more related to early learned habits than to inherited masculine genes. It is these habits which curtail creativity at the time.
Summary: habits are by nature of themselves non-creative once they have been learned and become automatic; creativity, in contrast, is never habitual nor can it become so. Habits are "in time," while creativity is "timeless"--that is, experienced as though one were outside of dimensions which time can measure.
If I am to be creative, I have no choice but to move beyond habits I have acquired in the past. No matter how creative any one of them may have been while I was learning it, all of them are millstones around the neck of current creativity. To the extent that I am on "automatic pilot," acting by rote--as would be predictable by one who knows me, even if I am blind to such ways myself, to that same degree I cannot be creative at the time.
To become creative requires: 1) diligence necessary to recognize my habits--that is, to consciously know when I am tempted to merely react without present-tense thinking; 2) courage essential for moving into the unknown beyond or prior to any previously learned modes of reaction; and 3) faith required for consciously weighing all presently available data on the way to making an absolutely new decision in regard to what to say, do, or make, in the immediate situation.
Mostly, I am not up to the task, let alone the pleasure and transcendence inherent in immanent creating...
Repression is a psychological name for self denial; as such, it is the grandest of all dangers to self, indeed, the way we do ourselves in in the process of creating an ego in replacement. Trying to be, rather than artfully act, an image constructed to survive with others in the world is to prevent, damage, or even destroy one's inherited selfing capacity.
the degree that one retreats into ego via self denial, to that same extent he seals off
the path to being himself. I can't be myself and be self repressed at the same time. I
may perform more easily in an ego act erroneously identified with who I am, but such
worldly successes always come at cost of losing my own soul (spiritedness).
Repression is the greatest of all enemies of creativity. Nothing else that I know of so surely prevents the occurrence of creative acts. To the extent that I am repressed, to that same extent I am limited in being creative.
The reason is twofold: first, power; then, content. Repression saps power essential for creative activity and leaves one cut off from knowledge which becomes the content of any creative endeavor. Human power is primarily rooted in instinctual urges. When an instinct is operative, power is automatically generated in its service. Easy example: when one is instinctively driven by anger/fear, power to fight/flee is generated. When one is sexually aroused, energy for activity is genetically created. Instinct-generated powers are the very moving forces of creativity. Without them, creative acts lack energy for initiation. One simply "doesn't feel like" being creative. Old habits, automatic reactions requiring no artistic decisions, are all that is possible. One may still move, albeit bored and listless, but uncreatively once the juices of drives are cut off at their source.
But even if power were available, as from artificial stimulants such as drugs and alcohol, still creativity is limited because repression also cuts one off from needed content, knowledge, or materials. The wealth of prior experience generally held in nonsciousness (out of immediate consciousness) is the very substance of all creative acts. It is precisely what we have personally "learned" in the proverbial School Of Hard Knocks which is the "material" being shaped into creative forms. When that "hard learnin" is unavailable, due to repression, then one cannot create even if power is available (as from a chemical stimulant).
Repression, by definition, is the result of pushing actual experience (what one sees, hears, feels, etc.) out of awareness. After repression one "does not know" what in fact he does know--or would had he not repressed it from awareness. Real sense-experiences and the body of knowledge which they generate are denied and hence made unavailable through acts of repression. For example, suppose one denies a sexual urge and suppresses memory of an event in which it was partially activated, say, being touched as a teenager by an uncle. In reality all such experiences of impulses acknowledged and events examined become the material (the wealth of knowledge) from which creative acts are later made. They are the very substance of later creativity.
By definition, creativity, recall, is giving shape or form to personal experience--that is, what one is presently perceiving, mixed with remembered perceptions apparently related to the present situation. Whenever prior perceptions (memories) are cut off or denied, as is inevitable with repression, then one is left with only immediate sense knowledge and without the larger wealth of prior experience. He or she can only act habitually, as one has come to do by rote; creative responses are prevented because material essential for their structuring is unavailable due to repression.
When, for example, I "can't remember" what I in fact experienced in a prior similar situation (because I denied it in awareness), then I have no choice but to react out of habit in the present event. Devoid of my "learning"--because I have repressed it from awareness, I lack the content for creative action presently.
The situation is further complicated because most repressions are seldom total or complete. Even though the wealth of an experience is "forgotten," still memory traces remain. Repression, recall, is only denial, not negation. Experience does not literally "go away" just because we push it from awareness. Still, body, in effect, "knows" even though mind "forgets." Thereafter, partial energies generated by repressed memories must be turned in upon themselves; that is, powers which would otherwise go naturally into creative decisions are instead dissipated in enforced repression. Denied instincts are, as it were, continually "crying out" for acceptance and activation; continued repression requires much energy to keep on suppressing their "voices." Repression, as all psychiatrists know, "can wear you out."
After repressing an urge or event, not only is one left without powers generated by the denied impulse, he is also deprived of remaining powers which must be diverted into the process of continual repression. He cannot be fully present in the moment, powered by urges and educated by prior experience; instead he must act by rote and divert limited powers available into maintaining repressions which gave rise to initial deprivations. Talk about a Catch 22!
Paradoxically, and tragically, repression is at the same time the finest servant of social conformity and the greatest enemy of personal creativity. The easiest way to deal with memes is to repress the genes which threaten them; yet genes, along with experiences they invite, are our greatest source of creative potential--both for power and content.
Perhaps the simplest and most basic of all psychic procedures is the process of denial which ends up as repression. "Saying it isn't so" must be the easiest of all defense mechanisms available for a child first confronting superior powers in the world. When a mother first changes from her initial mode of "unqualified love," that is, confronts a child about "negative" behavior, is there anything more natural and predictable than denial? "Who me? No, not I."--which is to say, with the first steps in the process of suppression on the way to repression.
In other words, the best way to get along in the world, insofar as unacceptable instincts and behavior is concerned, is the beginning of the worst way to remain creative. The very denials which most easily "get us off the hook" of parental/social rejection and/or punishment are the first stepping stones on the path of repression which eventually becomes the destroyer of creativity.
We must all be sorely tempted to repress in service of survival and well-being in society; yet this all-too-familiar psychic device comes with the price tag of personal creativity. The more we repress, the "better" we may become in society; but at the same time, the worse we become as creative individuals. Finally, the price of repression is creativity. We pay for social success via this means with personal failure as creative persons. The gift in the nursery gets lost in the playroom--and world thereafter.
Most commonly, repression of individual human capacities in service of group acceptance (socialization) begins with behavior, followed by sensing, thinking, feeling, sexuality, desires, and finally, creativity.
First we learn to act in socially acceptable ways, e.g., to curtail aggressive behavior and problematic deeds, such as, biting and theft. Then repressed behavior is commonly followed by suppressed thoughts about such socially unacceptable acts. "Don't even think about it."
In service of acceptable behavior, denial of associated sensations is likely to follow next, e.g., not looking at or touching things associated with potentially disruptive acts. If we repress natural curiosities about, for instance, seeing the possessions or bodies of others, we may be less tempted to take from or touch them in unacceptable ways.
Next, the lower roots of thought itself, namely, "feelings," tend to follow in the near universal quest for successful group membership. Emotions most likely to lead to "thinking about" and then doing unacceptable things are reasonably denied in awareness. For example, anger which may be expressed in aggressive deeds, or fear likely to lead to cowardliness, may be excluded from awareness as a child "learns" to be "good."
As our bodies mature, gender differences present from birth become more pronounced and socially problematic--particularly, natural sexual desires, along with associated actions. Urges to explore this rapidly emerging possibility--to "feel sexy" in any of its vastly diverse forms of expression, such as, looking at and touching sexual parts of other persons, "playing with" oneself, peeping at parents "doing it," and, of course, any such "nasty" acts as "playing doctor."
Then, since desires, particularly lust, lie at the heart of such socially threatening behaviors, repression of "wanting to" is the likely next victim of this psychological mode of coping with the disciplines of civilization. If we don't even "want to," we are, of course far less likely to "do it" or any of the potentially disruptive acts associated--such as, peeping, groping, or expressing "gene eye" related sexual desires.
Repression of desires begins and remains most focused on gender-related sexuality; but in quest of even greater "goodness"--as socially defined, suppression of the capacity for "wanting" itself often follows. For example, in Buddhism negation of desires is the highest virtue. But even outside of organized religions, we all seem to learn on our own that fitting in with society is far easier if we can rid ourselves of "wanting to do" any "bad" things. Consequently, as in Buddhism, repression of desire itself--both sexual and otherwise, tends to become "virtuous."
Finally, the most universal, and personally destructive in regard to individual salvation ("happiness"), of all our human abilities is the inherited gift of creativity--that is, our natural capacity for world and self making.
In male-oriented religions, these repressions are commonly projected onto male gods (the one true God, in each particular religion) who, as described in the bible of Christians, first created the world and all that is within it (Genesis, Chapter 1) and then, as the final and "highest" (how egotistical can we get?) act of creation, He creates man "in his own image."
In older matriarchal religions, primal creative powers were more reasonably projected onto women--goddesses of assorted names, varying from culture to culture. "Gaia," for instance, was viewed as the maker both of the world and all human beings.
This innate capacity for creativity, is, as projected in both patriarchal and matriarchal religions, operative in two major arenas of human perception--namely, outside and inside (perceptions of "out there" and "in here"), of world and self.
The deepest and most expansive, as well as essential for personal well-being, of all our inherited gifts is this: creativity--the capacity for shaping the world out of (or "in") our personal images, and, in the same process, literally creating ourselves. We are, sans repression, most primally and universally of all, world-shapers and self-makers, creators of both "it" and "I."
And in the midst of our deepest and most common of all repressions, quite predictably (in hindsight) we project these our finest capacities onto our gods and goddesses, where we may safely glorify and worship them, hopefully bend them to personal advantages in socially acceptable ways, and finally if truly fortunate, sometimes catch brief glimpses of our long repressed selves.
In practice, world-shaping and self-making are inextricably intertwined; when one is creatively "making the world" from personal images, he is at the same time giving shape to body and soul of self. But for understanding we, as amplified before, may pull them apart in mind's eye.
Creating-the-world, as popularly projected onto the first act of God (or the earlier Goddess, of varying names) is the process (reduced to "acts" for purposes of thought and language) of translating internal ("mental") images formed from human perceptions into external ("physical") forms; for example, an image of hunger into an act of nursing; or an image of internal comfort into an outside "home (set of self-pleasing circumstances)."
The principle of creating-the-world is a process of giving outside shape to inside awareness--that is, beginning with a perception (or combination, as they tend to occur) brought into awareness as an image, one then proceeds to shape-the-world, that is, arrange available materials, to conform as clearly as possible to this given image.
In colloquial terms, such world-shaping may be seen as "making things" like one "wants them to be"--e.g., making "mother" act in accord with personal desires (instincts-in-awareness). Later on, such creative acts will naturally extend to other "objects" or "things," such as, fathers, siblings, toys and temperature, plus pleasurable activities.
Although world-making is most easily seen in personally shaped things, circumstances, and relationships (arrangements formed from materials and people), its deeper genius lies in the very nature of perception and the evolved human capacity for forming images out of these perceptions (Stages 1 and 2 of the Creative Process). Because all that actually exists insofar as we humans are concerned is what we can perceive via our limited 5+ senses, if in fact there is any world or universe beyond what we can "get (grasp with our senses)," it might as well not be--and, insofar as we are personally concerned, it isn't!
Bluntly stated: all that is, insofar as a human knows, is what he "sees"--that is, perceives and brings into awareness via images. If I don't "get it" in any way ("grasp" it with one or more of my senses), it isn't (does-not-exist) for me.
These facts about human perception can be globally stated as: all is perception. This may or may not be existentially true, and probably isn't; but no one can honestly contradict the statement based on personal experience. So far as I and, I suppose, everyone else is concerned, all (for me) is limited to my perceptions.
Self-making lies through the path of self-acknowledgment; ego-formation lies through other-acknowledgment.
Self-creation is curtailed through repression, and negated when escape into ego is complete.
You can have a god or be godly, one or the other; to have a god is to evade the faith required for being oneself.
Creating oneself is the most courageous human event possible. To make up oneself and thus to become a unique being is a process of immense faith. Looking into the eyes of others, idolizing the meme, What They Think, is always easier than daring self-acknowledgment.
As odors are to nose and pictures are to eye, so nouns are to mind. All are images formed from perceptions, extractions from life but dead themselves, like old albums, ideas, and philosophies. In reality there is smelling, seeing, and thinking, of which images are only tools.
A self, like any other name, is a concession to our language structure--a potentially invaluable tool of thought, but taken as an entity, self signifies an escape from reality--where only selfing exists.
Self is only a noun for sake of language and thought. In life apart from talk, only the participle, selfing, exists. Therefore to be yourself outside of mind's eye, where names abide, be selfing when nerve allows. Otherwise, you're out of here and into no where.
Before consciousness evolved, individuality and the possibility of "being yourself" did not exist. Persons only existed as group members--or so I theorize, since selfing requires self-acknowledgment, which itself is a product of consciousness. Pre-conscious humans could of course be members of their clan, activating genetic capacities, but they could not know what they knew--which requires consciousness, and thus could not become themselves as unique individuals.
The term self-creation is a concession to the structure of our language which requires nouns and verbs to make sentences. Self, literally, apart from language, only exists in the process of selfing, and therefore ceases to be whenever one is "not being himself." Repression, therefore, in which self is replaced by ego, is more consequential than a merely functional psychological ploy in service of social acceptance; it is literally self destructive.
Most all social forces ("memes") aim, either directly or indirectly, at repressing creativity in its most natural forms. Not that creativity itself is condemned, but its primary ways of activation are socially repressed. Only when individual creativity is shaped into socially useful forms does it receive public approval. Most of the time public rejection is the predictable result of best human creativity.
The reason, of course, is that best interests of society are rarely served by best interests of individual members of any group. Only when the talents of a member are sublimated into serving the functions of the group does outside approval ensue. Otherwise, true creativity is apt to be labeled as "selfish." Such "artistic persons" are commonly viewed as "self-centered," "anti-social," or "useless" by those more gifted in conformity than in creativity.
I have concluded that the most powerful of all memes is: What They Think. "Public approval" as mediated via parents at home, teachers (and grades) at school, group leaders, public officials, political bosses, etc., becomes the most powerful of all social forces. Or, conversely, the flip side of the same coin is public disapproval or rejection. Instruments of What They Think include smiles, acceptance/approval, rewards, promotions, trophies, "honors," on the positive side, and frowns, rejection, ignoring, punishment, jail, etc., on the negative side.
This meme becomes, predictably, the most powerful of all social forces when we face personal creativity. Attention given to What They Think, as is required of any good citizen, cannot but be taken from What I Think, which is at the heart of all personal creativity. Indeed, the essence of individual creativity is giving shape or form to personal "thinking"--that is, "feelings," emotions, visions, opinions, beliefs, ideas--all of which are rooted in personal experience which may or may not conform with What They Think.
Of course, ideally one is present with full mental awareness and hence able to entertain both "Their Thinking" as well as his own. When so, public opinion may be wisely considered along with private desire, and each melded into larger degrees of creativity. But such ideals are obviously not always; most often I am focused on either one or the other, or else torn between the two, unable to act creatively by mixing both. Then, What They Think, which is usually more immediately rewarding than What I Think, tends to take precedence and crowd out my fledgling creative impulses. I typically end up living by What They Think (or what I imagine they might think, if indeed they thought at all) while continuing to repress my own awareness and hence remain non-creative in my living.
Desire must be the most consistent characteristic of creative activity. No other "feeling" seems to correlate better with being creative. Surely creativity involves much more than desire alone; still, in the large picture, "want" is a key element in every creative event. "Because I want to," must be the clearest and most pervasive of all motives for creative activity.
"Wanting to," sometimes voiced as "feeling like...," is also correlated with pleasure or "feeling good." When I am being creative I seem to consistently "feel good" myself and then "feel good" about what I have done. Desire and pleasure are, I have previously concluded, almost synonymous. When I "want to do something" I take pleasure in the process and "feel good" about what I have done.
Certainly there is more to creativity than naked desire only; often the creative process runs temporarily contrary to immediate desires. At this point one may feel more like he is "working hard" than "having fun"; still, the labor commonly associated with creative "work" is deeply satisfying even when one is going against a temporal "want."
Other elements, such as, knowledge, reason, and long range goals, may temporarily take precedence over primal desires in an extended process of creativity. Yet even then, deep desire is fueling the directives of logic and goals. For example: digging bait is not as inherently pleasurable for me as catching fish; nor is cleaning a catch later. But in a creative fishing trip even the less desirable parts of the event are creatively done in light of the whole process. Or, a painter is not likely to "enjoy" shopping for or making his paints, nor framing them later, as much as he does the engaging process of painting itself. Still, for a creative artist, acquiring materials and completing a work are creatively embraced as essential parts of the extended process.
Even when parts of a creative process are more like "sheer drudgery" than personal pleasure, still there is a deeper feeling of desire which moves me to do what I would otherwise not do at all.
In summary, creativity has many other descriptive characteristics; yet none seem so pervasive and consistent to me as "wanting to." When my writing, for example, is most creative, it is being done "because I want to," rather than for any other reason.
Paradoxically, the clearest, yet potentially most confusing of all descriptions of creativity involves the word self. When I am creating, I am, more than at any other time "being myself." In fact, in creative acts I am literally creating myself--that is, creating and selfing are essentially synonymous. Not that "I" as a godly entity am magically creating a separable self, but that I am finding/becoming/being myself in the very acts of creation. From an outward perspective it may appear that "I" am making "it," e.g., a writing or piece of furniture. I may, if asked, even say, "Yes, I wrote (or made) it."
But these understandable perspectives and answers are more related to language structures than to existential creativity itself. Sans the premises underlying English language, which are necessarily involved in communicating with others, I might more clearly say, if I spoke at all, during creative activity: "I am creating myself, even though you see me as writing or making a cabinet." In the act of creating, I am literally becoming/being who I potentially am. In colloquial language, "I am making up myself as I go along."
Because creating is the basic element in selfing (along with re-creating), I must literally be creating in order to be myself. I cannot actually be myself when I am not creating because creating is so primally ingrained in being human. "Not to create," stated succinctly, "is not to be." I may exist in my imagination as an ego (personality, soul, or static self) when I am not being creative, but entities such as these are all fictions, products of imagination, not really real.
When I escape being creative by moving into any other of the many available alternatives, such as, habits, repression, etc., I actually cease being myself. Not that "I" go somewhere, such as, out of my body or underground, but that, literally speaking, I stop existing as self.
Only when I return to being creative do I again exist as myself. Otherwise, I'm, as they say, "out of here."
Because we are so accustomed to thinking in terms of self as an entity (like a soul or ghost in the body machine), as indeed our language structures require us to, it is difficult to conceive the above existential statements "reasonably." To an English-trained ear, they simply "don't make sense." But giving voice to creativity, as I am attempting here--and necessarily in English language, I must push nouns and verbs to their limit if I am to clearly state the nature of creativity as I find it in experience (if not in the dictionary or in popular understanding).
In summary: although it doesn't seem to make sense when I say it this way, the clearest use of language about self I can find to accurately and honestly represent my experience is this: To be creating is to be selfing; when I create I become myself. When I am not being creative, I am not being me. In deceptive colloquial language, "If you want to be creating, just be yourself (in the fullest sense of the word)." Or, "If you're not being creative, you're not being you."
In the natural world, as our natural selves, we naturally recognize powerful external forces which we may reasonable personify for purposes of thought and communication into some such image as Mother Nature. When so, we may accurately think of Mother Nature as natural--that is, as a representative of external forces, even as "self" is a language symbol for internal forces contained within our skins.
God, however, at least as popularly conceived, is, in sharp contrast, the very epitome of unnaturalness. If self and Mother Nature are real, as names for in-skin and beyond-skin powers in the world, God is the essence of non-reality. Self is real; but God is not--at least insofar as genetic perceptions are concerned.
Self, we might then say, is natural; God is not. He is not simply super-natural, but literally non-natural. God is perhaps the most universal of all male (not necessarily female) images, the one onto which we project our most universal human attributes as we repress them out of awareness.
Major attributes assigned to God begin with creativity--the capacity for "making things," indeed "everything." Then, as Creator, He is commonly seen as having three related traits: omniscience, omnipotence, and immortality. He is imaged to have All Knowledge, All Power, and Perpetual Existence.
This grandiose image consequently, and paradoxically, becomes one of our best ways of re-understanding the nature of self, sans repression. If, as I postulate, we make our major projections onto God, then, when we dare, we may look into this near-universal mirror to begin again to catch reflections of our long repressed selves.
And if so, what do we see? First, the most universal of all human repressions, and consequently our grandest projection, is of human creativity--an innate human capacity emerging from the marriage of primal, blind instincts with recent insightful consciousness. When urges are wedded to "sense" then creativity becomes possible. "Lower animals" may improvise and gradually evolve into higher forms; but only man, with the additional gift of expanded consciousness, can create--that is, make truly novel inventions in his own life time.
Human creativity is, of course, not ex nihilo--out-of-nothing; literally, we are limited to re-arrangements of elements, to inventions--all the way from babies to computers. In our common theology we leave this latter capacity for "making something out of nothing" to our imagined God, with ourselves limited to occasionally borrowing what is essentially His for our own pursuits, or else conning Him into using his ultimate powers in our private endeavors.
In this popular perspective the ultimate sin against our imagined God, even worse than the lessor sins of idolatry, murder, theft, coveting, adultery, dishonoring parents, etc., is assuming Godhood--that is, daring to take on ourselves His major attributes, beginning with creativity, but spelled out in omniscience, omnipotence, and immortality. Ignorant, impotent, and dying is religiously (and socially) acceptable, but presuming Godhood is the grandest of all sins, even worse than the seven deadly ones.
But this theology is commonly known; what does it have to do with understanding self, in particular, the nature of how we might be if we succeed in unrepressing? I conclude that God, as popularly conceived, may be one of the best of all mirrors for catching glimpses of our repressed selves. If we dare look openly into our common images of God, we may begin to see major elements of our own self repressions/projections.
Specifically, I think, God in His overall sense commonly reflects the deepest, and perhaps first of our major human repressions, namely, individual creativity--the child-like capacity to "make things," to shape the world as best we can to fit and satisfy our natural desires. Then, as elements of this overall creative capacity, we may see His supposed omniscience and omnipotence as reflective of our own capacities for vast amounts of knowledge and power. Finally our assumptions of His immortality may clearly reflect the power of our own urges to survive as long as we possibly can, indeed, to push the actual limits of mortality to their most tenured proportions.
What commonly happens, I theorize in hindsight, is that beginning in early childhood we start repressing, for good and practical social reasons, natural capacities for creativity, including our curiosity for knowing all that we can, along with exercising all the power we can muster for shaping the world as nearly to our own designs as we possibly can. Later on, when the concept of time becomes more comprehensible, we also want to extend ourselves as long as possible, beginning with staying up as late as we can get away with. "Forever" may be impossible to grasp in mind's eye, but surely we want to extend traditional four score and ten as far as we can.
In other words, we naturally, as skin-bordered individuals in the midst of a wonderful world of opportunities, materials, and external forces, want to be creative--to redesign and shape circumstances to conform as nearly as possible to fit our innate desires. In this quest we naturally want to know as much as we can, and to wield all the power we may muster in service of our private designs. And, again naturally, we want to continue to do so for as long as possible.
In the mirror of God we may, when we dare, see again these natural aspects of ourselves which we typically repress early in life in quest of social acceptance, which must seem far more immediately relevant at the time. Not that the urges themselves are entirely forgotten; we rarely succeed, for example, as some religions make virtuous, in total suppression of all desire. Nor do we entirely eradicate our natural desire for knowledge, our search for power, and our wish for extended existence.
But, and this is the relevant issue here--even with partial repression, corresponding projection is inevitable. And the more we "push down" on our natural selves, the more enlarged our imaged God is likely to become. The more I deny my natural creativity, for example, the grander the size of my God as Creator will predictably become. The more I repress my urge to know truth, to make sense of reality as I perceive it, to "think for myself," the more omniscient my imaged God is likely to become. As my capacity for "niscience" is denied, His "omniscience" will become predictably expanded. The less I know (or let on to knowing), the more I will assume Him to know. Finally, as I retreat to total ignorance in any arena, His identification with Total Knowledge can be expected.
Likewise with power. The more I repress natural powers generated by my own perceptions and transformation of images into concepts, the more the powers of my imagined God will predictably become. The less I assume that I can do, the more I will want Him to do for me. Finally, my assumed impotence is likely to be paralleled by His imaged omnipotence. In such a final state of total projection following complete repression, I am likely to see myself as powerless and hence irresponsible, with Him as Ultimate Power and therefore responsible for everything. Of course, baring total self-denial, I will still hope to somehow get Him to wield a small portion of his powers for me now, perhaps via prayer, good behavior, and right beliefs, and later, as in a perfect heaven He has made for me and other righteous folk.
In this latter wish, as we all know, a natural desire for long life in the present world gets replaced by a fantasy of perpetual existence in an imaged world, along with the immortal God we created to begin with.
In summary, I think that our gods, or in the case of us Christians, our one God, are/is the best and clearest mirror for beginning to re-see what we repressed so long ago. And this picture, as amplified slightly above, includes one overall aspect of selfing, along with three related elements--namely, human creativity, plus capacities for knowing as much as we can, wielding all the power we can get, and doing so as long as possible.
Nothing, I conclude, is more human and natural than creativity, along with wanting to "know everything," to "run the world," and to "live forever"--all this within the context of even more obvious limitations in each arena.
The genius of traditional religions lies in artistically presenting a set of images, beginning with God, onto which major human capacities can be projected and then dealt with externally--as though they are "out there" rather than within ourselves. The prime advantages are twofold: first, if internal capacities are projected, they may be more easily controlled by those who assume intimacy with the accepted images--e.g., priests, preachers, and parents. Unruly individuals are more easily fitted into social groups when their powers are under the control of authority figures rather than within their own grasp.
Secondly, when we repress internal capacities and project them onto images, we can more easily live in harmony with the images--e.g., the gods and their local representatives. At the same time, we acquire illusions of personal irresponsibility because our accepted images are presumed to hold all real powers. They, who or whatever they may be, become responsible for us once we repress/project innate creaturely responsibility.
But religion aside, the same projections become predictable in social settings, even an atheistic family or group. Major human capacities, the prime aspects of selfing or human individuality, remain the same inside or out of religion. In any communal group, from family to clan to tribe to country, the same challenges of mixing private and public interests, genes and memes, are to be confronted. How are we to merge these two major forces, especially when they are in conflict with each other, when What-I-Want is in conflict with What-They-Want?
Again, within or without religion, the easiest answer seems to have universally been: repress/project--deny conflicting inward instincts by projecting their powers onto external images who are then presumed to be in control of life. If no gods and demons are supplied as available images by an accepted religion, then we may create others to take their place.
Specifically, as summarized above, these non-religious images are needed for primary aspects of selfing--our natural, inherited capacities. I have, as noted again, summarized the major elements of selfing--that which is most universally inherited, as: creativity, with three supporting traits. More than all else, human individuality is characterized by instinctive creativity--that is, powerful urges to shape the external world (our immediate circumstances) to carefully conform to inward inclinations, needs, and desires. More than all else we want, I think, to make "it" fit "I" as closely as possible.
We want to get, make, and do--in various combinations, whatever we feel, imagine, or conceive to be most in harmony with inherited structures and capacities. First this creative instinct involves urges to get resources needed for individual survival, beginning with air and milk; but then, with time, to proceed in shaping circumstances--that is, materials and parents, to also conform with innate needs/desires. And babies, we may easily observe, are immensely creative in both regard.
In service of this overall urge toward creativity, three sub-instincts are equally evident: first, the urge to know--that is, to acquire knowledge about external reality, about "how the world (as it touches me) works." A two-year old's continual "Why?" questions are but the beginning evidence of this human urge for understanding reality. We inherit minds with the sub-capacity for consciousness, and nothing is more natural than wanting to use them, to grasp at reality via "thinking" or "figuring things out." We naturally want to "make sense of things," to "think for ourselves."
Then, with whatever sense we are able to make out of desires brought into consciousness, we want to act accordingly; we want to do things which fit in with what we have first of all perceived/conceived--that is, "thought about doing." We want to exercise powers generated in perception and thinking in "doing whatever we want to do."
And thirdly, once we are into doing (exercising power) what we have thought about (made sense of), we want to keep on doing so as long as possible. We don't want, for example, to stop and eat at meal time (unless we are also moved by hunger) or to go to bed "just because they say to." We want, that is, to extend our thinking/doing as long as possible in time.
Projected into its grandest proportions this major human drive for creativity with its three aspects can be summarized thusly: we naturally want, when we are being our genetic selves, to be, as it were, a creator who knows everything, has unlimited power to act, and can continue to do so endlessly. Quite obviously each of these selfing urges places us in immediate and extended conflict with other selves, beginning with parents, family, and community. What I am moved (by genetics) to do, and what They, reflecting their own as well as group interests, want me to do, all too soon fall into serious conflict.
At these points of opposition between genes and memes, the temptation to repress/project must first present itself--that is, as creative individuals, the easiest resolution must seem to be to push down or deny internal drives and in effect (via projection) "give" them first to parents, then to other authority figures in our social worlds.
In practice these common repressions, beginning with creativity, are easily recognized as we cease, for example, coloring where we want to and instead learn to color "within the lines"--that is, to do what is "right" by their directions rather than our own inclinations. In this overall repression of natural creativity in favor of accepting "what we should do," the first phase predictably comes in ceasing to "think for ourselves," and in effect giving our minds to our mothers.
The familiar directive to "mind your mother" is ostensibly about behavior; but such conformities in behavior begin with what might more clearly be seen as "giving your mind to your mother," that is, transferring the capacity for "making up your own mind" over to her who will in effect "think for you." Don't ask questions, just mind! "Because I said so," stated or not, becomes a typical mother's mental stance with children beginning to repress their own thinking. "Mother knows best" easily becomes "mother knows all"--which of course implies that "I don't know anything."
Projecting "think ability"--the selfing capacity for "thinking for myself," first onto mother, is but the beginning of a habit of mental repression which is apt to be extended beyond her in time. But repression, typically, is far from over at the mind level. Next comes behavior--what-to-do, how to act. Once we learn to repress think-ability, the urge to "make our own sense of things," then power to act accordingly is the predictably next capacity to go--that is, to be projected onto mother, then father, etc. First we repress our "minds," our powers for thinking; then we typically follow by repressing power for doing, for acting in accord with what we might have thought, had we kept on thinking for ourselves.
We project, that is, the capacity for choice in actions along with the right to decide. Then "minding your mother" is completed when power to think is combined with power to do. If "good," we who "give our minds to our mothers" then learn to "behave ourselves" in accord with mother's thinking. Or if, in the same vein but opposite direction, we are "bad"--that is, rebel against her thinking and "misbehave," we yet function as externally directed--in rebellion rather than compliance, but still, in effect, "out of our own minds."
if repression continues in its typical fashion, the urge to extend creative activities in
time according to our own desires is also pushed down along with the power to choose our
own behaviors. We in effect give up the innate capacity for timeliness in favor of
accepting external direction of our timing. In the beginning our mothers then hold the
answers not only to why and what, but also to when. Following repression and projection,
they become the goddesses, as it were, of all knowledge, all power-to-act, and all control
In summary, whether childhood is in a religious or secular context, the same repressions of natural selfing capacities--for creativity in thinking, acting, and timing, are commonly projected externally. At first, mother is the prime recipient of all projections--the original "goddess," named as such or not; but in a religious context, these same projections are likely to be extended onto a "god," whatever he may be called. In either case, whether the functional goddess remains a secular mother or later becomes a religious God, the same human process of repressing troublesome instincts and projecting their forces in safer-at-the-time external images seems to be near universal.
Who can count the cost in time
for a boy with an X chromosome
in 50 trillion cells
who so long cloaks his fears
of being a sissy
in acting brave like a man
that he falls for his own act
and must live confined
in a masculine ego
cut off from the gift of his own creativity
not to mention, his fuller self?
I observe major distinctions between "love" from the perspectives of ego and self acknowledgment. Ego love, for example, is both possessive and self-righteous. It often presumes both to own ("have") the one who is loved, and to "know what is best" for them--that is, to be knowledgeable and "right" about what they "should" do. In contrast, the love of a self-acknowledging one is freeing rather than possessive, and does not presume to know ahead of time "what is right" for a loved one.
Also, ego love is managerial ("bossy"), even dictatorial, about its possessiveness and self-righteous beliefs. It in effect "plays god" with its "loved" objects and/or persons--that is, diligently attempts to make its "loved ones" perform (think and do) as expected ("for their own good," of course), and to correct and change them when they are "wrong"--that is, of contrary opinions to a "bossy," ego-identified person.
In a religious context, so-called "loving Christians," e.g., or Moslems, etc., see all those who do not conform to their accepted belief and behavior systems to be "lost" and in need of the "salvation" which "true believers" presume to have to offer.
Outside of religion, as in an ordinary secular marriage, the same stance prevails. Such an ego-entrapped person both "knows what is right and best" for a spouse and may diligently try to "help," change, and "make them shape up" to conform with pre-conceived patterns of thought and behavior.
Although self-acknowledging persons are also confident-at-the-time about what they perceive (their images and concepts), they are never godly about personal notions--that is, they do not take their perceptions to be ultimately "right" or "The Truth" for any and/or everyone else. Consequently they face and accept human limitations (lack of omniscience, omnipotence, and immortality), and are freeing, both with themselves and others, rather than dogmatically possessive and managerial.
Most noticeably of all, ego-based love is characterized by making a virtue of self-sacrifice in relation to "loved" others. Attention is given to loving others rather than loving oneself, which is viewed as the direct opposite of ideal love. A "good" ego lover tries, in effect, to deny self in the process of "taking care of" the other--that is, looking to the best interests (as personally defined) of the loved other, while trying to ignore, even negate, his or her own "selfish" concerns. Self-acknowledging persons know no such distinctions. Their "other-love," is, as noted before, but an overflow of maximized "self-love." They try to love others as they love themselves, rather than instead of loving themselves.
And yet there are, paradoxically, many points of similarity between these two distinctive forms of love. Indeed, at the apex of each they may appear to be the same to an outside observer. In fact, however, from the inside they remain quite different.
Similarities include sharp attention to other persons (loved ones), including concern for, plus efforts to help, serve, and seek their well-being, fulfilment, and happiness. The same attitude or stance taken toward oneself is also extended toward others--that is, just as a self-acknowledging person affirms and frees himself for creative self-becoming, so he does likewise with others. His service to others, for example, may even exceed that of a self-sacrificing ego-based lover.
The inward difference however, remains distinctive. Rather than attempting to deny, negate, or sacrifice himself on an imaginary altar of "loving others (rather than self)," a self-acknowledging person is doing just the opposite. He is, in fact, seeking to more fully become himself through the inherently more exciting challenges of involvement with other persons instead of inanimate objects or animals and plants only. Self-expansion, not self-negation, is his aim. In loving others he is not "denying self"; he is becoming his larger self.
In colloquial language, love of a self-acknowledging person is but the ultimate in "selfishness." He loves others not in an attempt to "be unselfish" but rather in escalation of what may be seen as private "selfishness"--literally, selfingness. Here the paradox of love begins to become evident. What is in fact the ultimate in "selfishness" often appears to an outsider as complete "self denial."
But from the inside--that is, in the awareness of a self-acknowledging one, the appearance is deceptive. He knows that in his acts of love he aims at the fuller being of himself, even while he engages in deeds of service and other-affirmation. When most successful in loving another person he may seem to be ignoring, even sacrificing himself (note metaphor), while in fact he is delighting in the larger creativity of other-love.
Whereas an ego-identified person (no matter what his self-image may be) will in fact be "putting himself down" or "denying himself" in his self-righteous deeds of, e.g., service, his ego-less counterpart will not. Instead, a self-acknowledging person will be "selfishly" seeking larger degrees of self-creation potentially inherent in loving others as he loves himself.
To be more specific: in a private deed of self love, such as, freeing oneself to create an object--like a painting, sculpture, idea, cake, or piece of furniture, many individual perceptions are activated; but as soon as the same type of freedom is extended to another human being, the extent of personal perceptions (what one senses) involved is vastly expanded. It takes far more attention and presence of mind to affirm someone else than it does to free onself alone; this "moreness"--when one is up to the challenge, is the substance of the expanded selfingness in loving others. Self-creation is, in effect, escalated when the process is expanded to include any other person. If freeing myself through any creative act is "fun,"--and it certainly is, freeing another person in like manner is even more exciting; it is, in fact, "downright delighting."
In summary: paradoxically, both types of love--that of an ego-identified person and a self-acknowledging one, often appear much the same on the surface to an outside observer. Each may include, e.g., acts of service ("helping") and doing things which please a loved one. But on analysis, the two remain distinctly different. Ego love makes a virtue of what is abhorrent to self-acknowledging love, and is in turn both blind to and threatened by the pure selfingness (seen as "selfishness") of one who dares to acknowledge rather than repress his own perceptions.
An egoist tries to love because he "should"--that is, in order to seek the rewards of "being good" as defined externally (by religion and/or society). A selfing one, in contrast, loves others for the fuller being of himself--not because other-love is more virtuous than self-love, but because it is potentially more satisfying. Ego-based love always expects, though blindly, to be rewarded--hopefully sooner, but if not, later in heaven after death. In sharp contrast, self-acknowledging love is its own reward; no expectations are involved.
Self-creation which includes other persons is simply a grander and therefore more exciting form of creation itself.
Naturally, before repression, we want to take care of ourselves as fully as we can--to get comfort and love, to protect ourselves and get away from threat and pain. We only want help with what we can't do for ourselves. But after we repress such natural instincts in quest of social success, the fun of self-caring is one of the finer gifts we often forget.
Powers generated with desires to take care of ourselves are inevitably projected, in equal blindness, onto others--beginning with mother but soon expanded to include friends, lovers, spouses, and even everyone. Then, cut off in awareness from our own inherited care-abilities, we predictably begin to unknowingly look to our chosen others for what seems to be lacking within ourselves.
Our drives for second hand care are only seen, if at all, in secret wishes for services, attention, affection, appreciation, understanding, unqualified acceptance, and being loved "for who we are"--or else revealed in diligent efforts to get what is lacking by such devious ploys as "being good," "helping others," trying to please and impress, putting others first, pulling our punches in quest of "being liked," trying to love others while we yet lack the resources for doing so.
Self-caring includes "taking care of yourself," being careful (even in the midst of chosen risks and dangers), plus caring for others--in general, living as the word implies: care-ful or full-of-care at all times, "giving a damn" about everything.
Such "caring for others" is not better than caring for oneself--as is so in the social virtue; it is simply more--that is, a grander challenge with greater inherent delights. Biological facts are: sans repression, self-caring--in all its wondrous aspects, is simply more fun, better done, and more satisfying than even the best of being cared for by others, including the illusion of unqualified love.
Con-fidence literally means with-faith. Etymologically speaking, one who is faithing ("has faith") is confident or self-assured. To be oneself--that is, selfing, as contrasted with trying to be one's ego or image-of-self, is also to be confident. In colloquial language, when we "are being ourselves" we are self-confident because the very process of selfing requires faith to begin with.
Selfing, we might say, is a tremendous act of faith. In fact, there is no greater act of courage than daring to create oneself. Many social deeds, such as, standing up to foes, like military enemies or those with contrary beliefs, do indeed take nerve; but no other human endeavor takes more faith, so far as I can yet determine, than risking the dangers of creating one's honest self in the presence of powerful What They Think memes.
When one has dared such self creation, deceptively called "just being yourself," he or she will therefore inevitably be "self confident." The faith required for self creation is evidenced in the confidence experienced by those who so dare. To the degree than one is truly being himself, he will consequently be confident (with-faith).
Conversely, all ego states are inherently shaky because they are rooted in mental illusions rather than physical reality. Egos, as we all know, are in constant need of "being propped up" or supported by the affirmations of others. When I am trying to exist in one of my varied ego states I am in continual need of favorable "feedback" from others--at best, "understanding" or compliments; at worst, criticisms. But in either case, some form of acknowledgment from "out there" is required so that I can be assured of personal existence. Various forms of trophies, either physical or mental, positive or negative, from others are essential for maintaining illusions of ego existence.
Because egos are constructed rather than created, they may require skill and diligence, but they do not take courage. Ego-making is essentially a faith-less endeavor in contrast with the nerve required for self creation.
When I have honestly been myself I already know the worth of what I have created in my acts of being; I do not need or look for acceptance or approval from others. But when I am caught up in ego, and hence not being my inherited self, I am in constant need of other-affirmation--hopefully positive, but if not, then negative is better than none at all.
One aspect of genetic selfing is respond-ability. We are born with the capacity for responding to reality via personal perceptions. Whenever we are "being ourselves" we are, consequently, activating this ability-to-respond. With activated respond-ability we become "responsible for ourselves," that is, we exist doing our best to "take care of ourselves." We do not, as ourselves, look to others to "be responsible for us." We have no desire, even secret longing, to "be taken care of" by others.
Ego, in sharp contrast, is in continual need of being taken care of, especially by others. Once we leave selfing and identify with our constructed egos, we of course try to promote, protect, and defend our fragile egos; but because ego is itself a crafted image based on What They Think and other-acknowledgment, it is consequently in constant need of support and affirmation from without, especially other people.
Although "egotistical people" may try to appear as fiercely independent, "not needing anybody," they are, behind such brave fronts, in deep need of other-affirmation, indeed, being literally "taken care of" by others. Because society affirms and rewards responsible citizens, those caught up in ego often try to act responsible in order to achieve these outward supports; but deeper down, even super-responsible ego-based persons remain in need of external support. Though denied outwardly and even repressed from consciousness, those trying to exist in ego states are sure to harbor fantasies of being irresponsible, "cared for" by others, "having it done for them," even on deepest levels to be returned to the womb where all notions of complete irresponsibility may most clearly be projected--"unqualified love," it is sometimes called.
Wishes to be "loved for what I am" or otherwise treated like an irresponsible infant are all rooted, I suspect, in egotistical states where the natural human capacity for respond-ability, including "being responsible for oneself," has been substantially denied or negated.
Small children, yet to repress native selfing capacities, are notably independent in the sense of "wanting to do things for themselves" whenever they can. Reluctantly they turn to others for "help" when a task, such as, tying a shoestring, seems mechanically impossible. I think such childhood independence is more characteristic of real selfing than are the various states of either practiced or wished for dependence so common with adults who I see as trying to be our egos.
Consequently, one of the clearer signs of selfing as distinguished from ego is, I conclude, a natural kind of self-responsibility--both in the literal sense of embraced respond-ability in which one is continually careful in "taking care of oneself," and in the social sense of "responsibility" or duty in public relationships. When I am selfing, I delight in my abilities to respond-well to circumstances as I find them (be respond-able), and to "take care of myself" without looking to or wishing for "someone to take care of (to see, understand, compliment, tend to, and love) me." Otherwise, which is much of the time, I remain caught up in ego states were I either openly or secretly wish to be irresponsibly taken care of, even to return to the womb.
Jesus said that unless we become again as little children we can in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven--this in a social context which has changed little in regard to adult opinions about how one "should act." Mostly we strive for and idolize "growing up," "getting over" childhood, and becoming responsible citizens. We try to stop being "childish" and tend to reject those who insist on remaining so, acting, we may say, in "uncivilized ways."
Jesus' strange sounding observation and directive doesn't seem to make much sense in light of prevailing opinions about the virtues of childhood. If Jesus knew something we have commonly forgotten, what was it? What about "little children" could be so critically important that unless adults reclaim it we have no chance of eternal life?
Here are my speculations.
My granddaughter, three year old Ashlyn, is, I think, a typical "little child." I can easily imagine that Jesus might have been referring to just such a child when he chided his disciples for trying to "keep the kids away," perhaps to protect the sanctity and decorum of their "religious" meeting, and went on to make his strange sounding observation about adults who "want to be saved."
Of course I don't know what he meant; but I speculate that he might have been referring to what I am about to note. Even if, however, I am entirely wrong in trying to read Jesus' mind, this is how I now see and envy Ashlyn--and other little children yet to "lose their innocence" and become jaded and/or sinful adults.
Ashlyn, as best I can tell, is yet to fall for the "deadly sin" of pride and is more certainly free from the curses of shame. At the same time she is consistently in the process of what I summarize as self-acknowledgment. Regularly, without pride or shame, she acknowledges her perceptions openly and pursues her inherited desires diligently. She is apparently unmoved by compliments (other-affirmation) and undeterred by criticism (What They Think). She seems to know exactly what she wants most of the time, and persistently goes for it.
When, for example, she does something which pleases her and apparently "feels good," my affirmations of her seem quite irrelevant. If we have been "coloring" together and I tell her one of her "drawings" is "really good," she is apt to reply, with no hint of pride, "Yes, I know." If I tell her she is cute (or smart, funny, or whatever) she responds similarly, implying that she already knows what I have said. Even when she calls me to the bathroom to "see what she has done" or show me how she can now "wipe herself," I get the feeling I am simply being let in on a personal accomplishment. She is, obviously, without shame about her body or its functions, and can openly share what "feels good" to her without any tone of pride.
She is, in an adult word, still enviably innocent. And it is just this state which I imagine Jesus referred to in his warning to those adults of his time who, like many of us still, are yet in quest of our own fuller happiness--even if we have successfully "grown up."
My analysis of this childlike innocence, so lacking in myself and other adults I know-- which I also believe is essential for "going to heaven," is this: the only way to avoid the sin (truly "deadly") of pride and the curse of shame (its shadow face) is, as I think Ashlyn yet does, to consistently acknowledge one's own real perceptions--that is, to remain conscious of all personal experience (including instinctive desires) and carefully avoid ever-present temptations to create and fall into an ego of any sort.
Both sinful pride (commonly cloaked with false "humility") and its mirror image shame (as seen in "bragging" and "feeling guilty") are, I have finally recognized, only possible after, and resulting from, fleeing honest self-acknowledgment into phoney existence as an illusionary ego. Whenever I split myself off from my inherited being, along with regular acknowledgment of who I actually am, and slip into an image-of-myself (an ego) which varies in any way from my given uniqueness, then I unwittingly set myself (my "false self") up for "being proud" of my ego when it is successfully presented, or, conversely, "ashamed of myself" when I fail to "live up" to any trait I have come to identify with "it."
This fatal-to-self error--which I know so well, yet lies, as best I can tell, ahead of innocent Ashlyn. As her grandfather I wish her success in remaining so delightfully free from pride and shame; but knowing now how tempting are the paths of repression in quest of social acceptance (other-acknowledgment), I can only predict her own eventual fall in the process of "socialization," into her own versions of ego states so apparently common to the rest of us all.
Whether or not I read Jesus correctly or accurately imagine what the experience of Ashlyn and other "little children" is truly like, this is the ideal human condition I affirm and seek for myself: Based on my understanding of the distinction between self-acknowledgment and the two ego states of pride and shame, I aspire to be continually acknowledging my own experience as completely as possible without falling into ego-identification with its resulting expressions in pride or shame.
I want to be openly and consciously present in each moment and event, acknowledging the true nature of whatever I experience (perceive and respond to). At the same time I want to resist all temptations to return to identification with the ego ("good boy," e.g.) I have constructed in the past, including wasting energies in defending, promoting, and advancing it, plus its phoney "emotional" states of either being proud or ashamed of myself.
So far I have only focused on the "feeling good" part of self-acknowledging--those positive responses to one's experience, e.g., Ashlyn's "liking" her coloring. I have tried to distinguish the "feels good" of self-acknowledgment from the "is good" of success in an ego endeavor (e.g., Little Jack Horner's conclusion: "What a good boy am I."). Subjective satisfaction with what one has done, expressed as, "That's good," or, "I like it," e.g., a good fart or fuck, is, obviously, quite different from objective judgments based on external criteria, such as, good behavior (e.g., doing "good deeds" or making "perfect" grades). Both are described with the same term good, but the meanings are distinct. "I like it" from a personal perspective may or may not correlate at all with "It is good" from an ethical, moral, or social standpoint.
But what about negative aspects of self-acknowledgment? Probably there are, in overall perspective, many more natural experiences of "I don't like it," or, "That's not good to me," than of positive ones. After all, errors, mistakes, and "barking up the wrong tree," are as inevitable in human experience (even more so?) as those rarer times when I actually "get it right" or feel truly good about what I have done. What is the nature of such negative events in the context of self-acknowledgment in contrast with the shame associated with ego failures?
While existing in an ego state, such as, my "good boy" image of myself, failures to "live up" to any associated standard (like, "helping people" or "being perfect") in any other deed, behavior, or belief, predictably result in "being ashamed of myself." Then, "I should have done (known, thought, or acted) better." "What's the matter with me?" "Why can't I get it right?" Even if I don't phrase these ego-type "feelings" in language, the prevailing spiritual state is one of shame, guilt, and regret, often followed by determination to "do better next time." Just as I cannot but "feel proud of myself (as an ego)" whenever I do good as socially defined, so I inevitably "feel bad about myself" when I goof, err, or otherwise act out of character with my privately defined ego state.
When one is into self-acknowledgment, rather than caught up in ego, attention is as carefully devoted to "mistakes" and "errors"--what "doesn't feel right," as to what "feels good." Certainly the aim of all genetic life is "feeling good" rather than "bad," but in the process of seeking satisfaction one is as sharply attuned to negative as to positive responses--often more so, since negative data is potentially invaluable in shaping "things" for increasingly positive feelings.
There is, however, a grand difference between responses to negative data when one is self-acknowledging, and when he is caught up in trying to be an imagined ego. Whereas failures in ego perfection are often catastrophic, causing great emotional pain, intense shame, and may even be extended for years (e.g., being forever shamed by a failed grade, marriage, etc.), errors in self-satisfaction are relatively minor events. They are more like "occasions for learning" than "causes for shame," that is, they provide useful data for continuing in the same process of moving more effectively toward increased self-satisfaction. Rather than being "something to be ashamed of" and hence hidden or denied, mistakes--when one is self-acknowledging rather than promoting an ego, are simply educational information.
Certainly, as with ego failures, a self-acknowledging person may "not like" and will be "dissatisfied" when something is "not yet right"; but these educational clues are quite different from the often painful causes of shame and hiding which are common when one is caught up in ego states. They may even be carefully sought out, rather than avoided and hidden, as sources of data for improved self-enhancement in later endeavors.
Point: errors, mistakes, and "not getting it right the first time" are not "all bad" when one is into self-acknowledgment, as they almost certainly are for ego-based endeavors. They are acknowledged, just as are positive experiences ("successes"), yet without dire associations so common with flaws in ego perfection.
Ultimately creativity is movement--and therefore more about matter than mind. It exists, for example, in the stroke of a brush on canvass--the movement of materials, not in the artist's mind alone. No matter how beautiful one's thoughts may be, creativity does not fully exist until concept is formed in matter. Mind, of course, does matter; true creativity cannot occur without a measure of mind. But, and this is the relevant issue here: With creativity it's matter over mind, and not the other way around. In other matters, like taking tests in school, it is indeed mind over matter; but not in this.
Even so, mind counts, though of lesser importance finally. And here I want to explore the place of mind in the matter of creativity. Even if it takes back seat to movements of matter, as in brush strokes on canvass or tongue strokes in love making, still mind does matter--just lessor so.
First I note basic requirements in each arena, the most demanding elements in moving matter, and in minding. Creativity in movement requires, more than all else, courage. Moving a brush across a canvass (or a tongue across a breast) is, if done creatively, a matter of great nerve. It takes grand courage to be so completely present in a moment that one's movements represent one's fuller self--instead of simply being random activity or a calculated act.
Minding, on the other hand, is less a matter of courage than of deciding. The bottom line in thinking is "making up your own mind" about each controllable element of the movements of creativity. Deciding is to minding as courage is to creativity. The genius of thinking, finally, after an arduous process of reasoning (weighing data), is coming to a personal decision--this or that; not both/and or wishy washy swinging from one to the other, but only one and not the other.
It may be reasonably argued that deciding itself is also a matter of courage, even if mental rather than physical in nature. I would not argue this point; still, the artistry of making a reasonable decision, of adding up all one's available data in a sensible way, seems less like an act of courage than simply allowing reason to operate as it does according to its own laws. Surely, making up my mind, reaching a sensible decision, is often difficult and challenging; yet not nearly as nervy (at least for me) as any creative movement.
Be this as it may, the main point I wish to make here is that creative movements require courage, and effective thinking takes deciding. The greatest challenge of minding is not assembling data, or even in weighing it logically, but in the final act of drawing a line between one and another--this or that. Yet the final demand of creating is mustering the courage of movement.
But what is the nature of creative movement? What is substance/goal of the activity which I see as creative? Creativity, finally, is shaping the world (literally, materials in the world) in the image of oneself. It is, after all is said and done, putting me into form. In any truly creative movement I, literally, am embodied in it. It, I might say, is I, whenever what I do is creative. To truly know such an it (perceive it accurately) is to "get me" as I truly am.
But in practice, where mind encounters matter in a creative movement, some distinctions can be drawn between I and it. Ultimately, in creating I am shaping the world in my own image, making things out of my self; but often there are images within myself (my mind) which I am forming through my movements. In these instances, which are much more numerous than those rare existential ecstasies when I seem to miraculously appear or be transformed instantaneously into some it, I am giving form to an image in my mind. I am "making something" which I have in fact already imagined in my head; I am giving form to a mental image, rather than jumping from self to substance in a single creative leap.
But in either case, whether I am making the world in my self image directly or shaping some part of the world in harmony with an image I hold in my mind (or heart), still creativity is giving outward form to who I am. It is like playing God. I italicize like to emphasis the metaphorical nature of this descriptive statement. All creativity is like playing God, but certainly not the same as being God--or even godly. A grand error is made when an artist slips over the line between "making the world" as we are told God did, and believing himself to be godly--as in, omniscient, omnipotent, or immortal.
All truly creative movements in shaping some portion of materials in the world into a form congruent with one's own self (interests, visions, needs, etc.) are like playing God. But they are not being God. This means that even though they express and represent the truest elements of one's self (including images in his mind) they are never sacred within themselves. Creative movements, even when solidified into a form like paint on canvass, find their meaning and glory in the events of their creation rather than in the shapes which remain later. To use a crude metaphor, they are like shit to the process of digestion--that is, crucially important in the forming, but without sacred worth thereafter. Or, like a child's finger painting after the paint has dried, they may be "given to mother" or stuck on the refrigerator door; but to a creating child their true meaning or value was inherent in the event of painting. Anything later is but a bonus.
In summary, when I am creating I am, ultimately, putting myself into some shape or form. The creative movement, whatever its medium, is the way I transform me into it. But, since self is complex--with many distinguishable elements, such as, feelings, thoughts, desires, and needs, we may think of creativity more specifically as putting some part of me, some element of I, into a form. A creative movement may, for example, give shape to an image in my mind--some conception I wish to make tangible, or to a feeling in my heart, a hunger in my stomach, or a passion in my loins. In either case, the critical element in creativity is whether the outside form (or movement in its quest) is in harmony with the inside element of myself. Is, for example, my heart being expressed in words I speak? Is the idea in my mind accurately worded on the paper in my hand? Is the passion in my loins harmoniously shaped in the movements of my tongue, fingers, and body?
The most creative of movements, of course, give form to fuller elements of my self. Lessor creations may come from ideas, images, or feelings only; but larger creativity comes from greater unions of who I am--e.g., marriages of mind and body, notions and emotions, will and passion.
In practice, creativity and sexuality are difficult if not impossible to distinguish--that is, one who is being creative is apt to "feel sexy" at the time--if, that is, he/she is honest with themselves as true creativity requires. Not that creativity and sexuality are existentially synonymous, as though one were the same as the other; but the inward states, the bodily conditions, of one who is being creative and one who is being sexual are similar and often inter-related.
Surely one can be creative and not be "thinking about sex" or doing anything remotely related to sex; but if his or her autonomic nervous system could be "scoped" at the time, it would, I speculate, be similar in operation to one engaged in acts of seduction and/or attraction. Or, because being sexy is so deeply instinctual, far below levels of conscious thought, one can be actively engaged in "doing it," with minimal degrees of personal creativity activated. Indeed much so-called "good sex" is purely instinctive and hence beyond realms of conscious thought which are an intimate part of creativity.
By-passing overt sexuality, the more socially acceptable term sensuality may be more clarifying: creativity is inherently sensual. Bodily senses--seeing, hearing, smelling, etc., are necessarily activated in order to effect creative activity of any form; but so are "feeling" senses arising from deep emotions existent below the level of peripheral senses. When both bodily and emotional senses are operative, one may be said to be truly sensual in the sense of sensitively alert to both what is without and within. This state of potential sensuality is very close to, and often intimately a part of, any form of creativity.
Because we are typically trained to separate "making things" from "making love," that is, creativity from sexuality--with social approval given to the first and withheld from the second, conscious re-connection between the two is sometimes difficult to acknowledge, especially, I think, for females who create. Still, I think the roots of self-creativity and self-re-creativity--that is, instincts for selfing and for reproduction of self, are so deeply intertwined that they only become separable in theory, in "thinking," or essays such as this.
Were we to be completely honest with ourselves, as indeed fullest creativity requires, then I think one creating would be equally able to describe his activity as either creative or sexual. Or, conversely, were one to be truly creative in overt sexuality, bringing fuller consciousness to deeper instincts, I think that he/she might accurately describe "doing it" as "being creative," as associated activities would in fact be.
The theory which underlies this interrelationship between creativity and sexuality, briefly stated, is: to be human is to be concomitantly selfing and sexual--that is, instinctively moved (genetically directed) to be creative, both of self and of more selves, to "make ourselves" and to "make more of ourselves." Although typically recognized as two drives, one for "survival" and the second for "reproduction," I think that the second is actually but one aspect inherent in an overall urge toward creativity in general. In other words, sexuality is not, I think, something different from creativity; rather it is part and parcel of the same primal impulse more clearly seen as creativity than as "survival and reproduction."
Summary: when I am more fully conscious and creating, I am both creative and sensual ("sexy") at the same time. It is as though creative/sexual is but the same coin seen from opposite sides. I may be more easily heard and accepted by others when viewed as being creative than as being sexy, but this is related to social rather than genetic facts. In the world beyond memes, where only genes direct, to be one is also to be the other.
Or so I find it to be.
All creativity, I conclude, is rooted in our two primary, inter-related instincts for survival and replication, commonly seen as: staying alive and being sexual (or being selfish and sexy). The first, survival, is more regularly recognized in urges aimed at enhancing our modes of survival, such as, comforts and pleasures. These drives, I think, more consistently power creative efforts; but in practice we are often more aware of drives as such when they fall more in reproductive than survival arenas--that is, more about sex than security and comfort.
Perhaps this is due to more social repression of conscious sexuality than to pursuit of "chaste" happiness, leading to exaggerated attention to the latter. But for whatever reason, I find our most consciously recognized creative activities to be more rooted in sexuality. Certainly, while repressed for social reasons, and engaged in less conscious creativity not focused on overt sexiness, we are likely to seem less aware of lust; but I surmise that apparently creative acts of such persons are more rooted in sexuality than is commonly acknowledged.
In summary: Seeds of creativity lie buried in the union of instincts for survival and replication. Only when one returns to and nourishes their union is this grandest of human capacities allowed to grow, eventually to blossom into creative living.
In reality, prior to repression, what is later seen as these separable drives, exists as one unified life force moving individuals toward personal well being. Only after the split occasioned by repression of this single creative urge do we come to see its wholeness from opposite sides--like the proverbial one elephant viewed externally as trunk and tail, etc. For an infant, prior to repression, there is, I suggest, no distinction between what will later come to be known as "selfish" and "sexy." All his/her forces are unified and mobilized in quest of "good living" in the here and now.
Later, especially as glands, hormones, and organs functional in reproduction develop and mature, placing an otherwise normal child at risk in his social environment, does the temptation to repression, with its inevitable splitting of self and power, present itself in fullest form. Then, if one falls for this seductive choice--as it seems we universally do ("...for all have sinned...," as the bible observes), attention gets focused on one end of the "elephant" or the other, usually the "selfing" side which is more socially acceptable--at least at first when major parental concerns are bodily health and learning bowel control.
Later, when signs of adult sexuality begin to appear and prime attention shifts to controlling this element of basic creativity, "selfish" social threats are briefly shifted to back burner. In time, however, even originally accepted infantile "selfishness" becomes subject to major social controls which idealize a fantasied state of human "unselfishness."
Out of this milieu of alternating social challenges to activation of first one end of the "elephant" of self and then the other, we all seem to opt for repression; thereafter we come to think (not physically perceive) of the unified forces of creativity in two ways--traditionally, as separable instincts for survival and reproduction. Somehow splitting the unified self and then trying to repress one and/or the other end of the whole must seem easier than facing the considerable social challenges of remaining creative as all infants at first are.
This is my best analysis of "the human situation" so far; but be that as it may, even if I misunderstand how things commonly happen, I am convinced that were it not for repression, primal life forces reflecting in creative living would be working harmoniously--not split and often pitted one against the other. My data for this speculation comes from observations about what tends to occur with degrees of unrepression. What I see is that we/I, as we dare confront our divisions and risk the challenges of moving toward personal wholeness ("salvation" in Natural Theology), find traditional divisions harder and harder to make. Urges for selfing and sexuality tend to merge (re-emerge, I theorize) into each other.
I become increasingly creative as I unrepress urges which I previously categorized according to popular views of separable instincts, cease pitting one against the other as though they are enemies, and allow "their" seeds to germinate in the same soil of human nature. Projecting my limited but credible-to-me data into one theory, I conclude what I stated in my first sentence: seeds of creative living--not just for making some type of so-called art form, lie buried at the heart of human being where powerful forces impel us, when not restrained by repression, toward daily, moment by moment, creativity.
Even the making of what society sees as art (e.g., painting, sculpture, writing, etc.) is fueled, I think, by greater than ordinary returns to larger degrees of unrepression of one or the other "separable" instincts. Some "artists" seem to become more "selfish" than average less creative persons, while others unrepress and become "sexier" than most folk; better artists, I speculate, come closer to duel unrepressions which unleash even greater degrees of natural creativity. Where consciousness (mental unrepression) lags behind physical unrepression, such artists commonly see themselves as "being inspired" externally--either by lovers, muses, gods, even demons, all of which are seen as being outside forces which somehow "come" to move one to artistic endeavors.
Finally, I theorize, the same forces innate in all human beings, sans repression, which are partially unleashed in socially recognized "artists," lie waiting for activation, not just in specialized art forms, but in creative daily living. The art forms of such persons, I speculate, may occasionally take the shape of painting, sculpture, or novels, etc., but will more often appear in human endeavors more relevant to personal well being--such as, relationships with others, financial stability, comfortable living arrangements, satisfying hobbies, and sweet dreams at night.
In practice, some of the particular challenges inherent in unrepressing creativity, this deepest of all human capacities which commonly lies buried beneath mountains or repressed selfing and sexual urges, include these: 1) Stopping mental efforts to maintain socially accepted divisions between the primary instincts--allowing them to exist undifferentiated in awareness (not knowing if any particular "inspiration" to act is moved by drives to "stay alive" or "make babies"). This means standing the mystery of "not knowing" where any specific inclination "comes from"--that is, whether an urge is born of one's "selfishness," his sexuality, or even some invisible muse, god, etc.
I suspect, however, that as one comes nearer to the roots of human creativity, speculative projections onto any external source tend to diminish as he/she becomes more consciously centered in self. Perhaps speculations about internal divisions of forces into "selfish" or "sexy" may continue longer, but even these will, I theorize, eventually cease as one returns to face the fuller mystery of all existence, including oneself.
2) Ceasing fighting between these two fictional instincts, or trying to use one for controlling the other. Not only are intellectual efforts to sustain the divisions to be stopped; playing one against the other in daily life will also go. For example, using segmented capacities for "self-control" to continue repression of threatening sexual urges will be stopped. Or, fleeing into irresponsible sexual acting out as a way of avoiding the challenges of self caring will be ceased.
In reality, as best I can tell, just as self is not divisible from sexuality, nor sexuality from self, all efforts which set one against the other, or try to enlist the services of one in control of the other, are ultimately doomed to failure. In facing this second challenge, one recognizes these "facts of life" and reasonably stops wasting energies in such finally fruitless endeavors.
3) Accepting "juices" without distinctions. Once I realize that there is one life force, with commonly accepted distinctions between survival and replication existing only in my head (useful for analysis and understanding, but not physically accurate), then I face the challenges of applying this knowledge in my living--that is, in my body. The mental "fact (as best I can tell)" is only existentially relevant when I absorb it into my living. It is not enough to simply "understand" this theory of unity; before it becomes relevant in my well being, I must translate the idea into practice. This means that I must allow in my body what I acknowledge in my head--specifically, to accept the flow of whatever "juices" move me, without wasting energy in deciding "where they come from." "Is," for instance, "this a survival instinct, or is it a sexual urge?," then becomes only an academic question, irrelevant to my current living.
I take the colloquial name juices to represent the reality of chemical or electrical "energies" within the body. In Eastern understanding it might be called chi. To an engineer it might be seen as electrical impulses; to a chemist, connected chemical reactions. To a physicist it might be seen in terms of stimulus/response. To a layman it might be referred to as simply "what I feel like doing," or, "an urge to act," or, "something moving me." I summarize these various perspectives with the single name juices. Whenever one "feels moved," however "life forces" may be analyzed, I say, "the juices are flowing."
This third pragmatic issue involves the challenge of physically (not just mentally) accepting the mystery of "I don't truly know 'where this urge comes from,' but I do know my juices are flowing." Or, "maybe this instinct is 'selfish' and about my personal survival only; or maybe it is 'sexy' and somehow related to reproduction. But in either case, I am consciously aware and acceptive of my inward movements."
4) Accepting juices without judgments. Next, once I allow my undifferentiated (undefined) juices to flow (regardless of "where they come from"), I face another mental challenge, namely, doing so without judgment. I must not only allow the physical flow of ultimately mysterious juices, I must do so without "playing God" with them--that is, exiting my body, rising above in my mind's eye, and passing judgment on any of them. I must move past the dictation by questions which previously consumed energies generated by "flowing" or curtailed them before they could "move me"--such as, "Is this a good feeling, or a bad urge?" "Is this what I should be feeling, or an evil desire which I, as a good person, should not be having?"
All such judgments ("playing God with myself") are to be suspended, laid aside or to rest, if I am to move on toward fuller flowing of juices which allow me to become truly creative. Certainly questioning appropriateness of any expression or activation of an urge in the outside world will be a continuing necessity; but there is a profoundly relevant (though commonly unrecognized) difference between discrimination and judgment, between "deciding what to do about something" and "judging the feeling (or deed) to be bad or good within itself."
The human challenge, if we are to avoid the errors of Adam and Eve, is to continually make discriminations (as in recognizing, naming, making sense, and deciding) without ever "eating the apple" of judgment, "the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil"--that is, trying to become "as God."
In regard to physical unrepressions, this means being consciously aware of "flowing juices," making informed (sensible) decisions about related expressions/actions, yet not falling into the sin of judgment about any of them.
5) Permitting "mysterious" juices to flow without judgment. Next come the challenges of allowing myself "to feel whatever I feel"--that is, to open my entire body to the free flowing of energies (from whatever source). Just as sensations or "stimuli" invite bodily "response"--that is, create lessor energies within the body, and emotions (lower brain reactions) evoke greater forces with pre-determined inclinations to certain actions (e.g., fight/flight), so the juices generated by pleasure create powers beyond these upper level events. Pleasure movements, as I have distinguished before, are deeper, more pervasive, and generate greater powers which I theorize are evolved for creative living.
Whatever their source, these vaster creative energies which I identify with the "juices of life," are what I must allow to flow within my body, without judgment or restriction, if I am to be creative in my living (as distinguished from "thinking a good line," or, "preaching what I am yet to practice"). Well past such restrictive questions, such as: "Is this being selfish?," or, "Is this sexy rather than loving?," or, "Are these feelings which I shouldn't be having?," etc. etc., in this fifth practical challenge I risk the unrestricted flow of pleasure or creative juices throughout my entire body (or any parts of my body, depending on the power and nature of the pleasure).
It is no coincidence, I think, that "playing with yourself" commonly becomes one of the earliest childhood prohibitions imposed by parents, religion, and society; it is, after all, one of the most primal and elemental forms of human creativity. All later kinds of outside creativity--as in, shaping the world or "making things" which are seen as "creative" or "artistic," are, I think, rooted in instincts for this most basic type of self pleasuring.
Soon after (or is it concomitantly?) instincts for survival and comfort are effected, those for enhancing survival, which begin with bringing added pleasure to oneself, must become operational. Surely there are many lessor pleasures which children are blindly moved to pursue, e.g., good tastes and comfortable temperatures, but none seems so deep-seated or near-at-hand than the option of increasing personal pleasure through stimulation of bodily parts evolved with more sensitive nerve endings. We may "make ourselves feel good" by tasting sweets, removing encumbering clothing, etc., but there are no more immediate options for "feeling better" than by what adults may discretely call "playing with yourself," "touching yourself 'down there'," or, more harshly, "masturbation."
Whatever its label--and these become immensely important when we come to face the universal conflict between genes for "feeling good" and memes which say, "don't do that," experientially these earliest roots of creativity involve a child's creative moves to enhance his/her own self pleasure, which itself is but a tool of survival instincts. First expressions of this most primal of genetic drives seem to be directed outward, that is, toward shaping the environment in accord with life-needs, such as, getting air, food, and comfort. But once these are relatively established, even for a moment, it seems that attention moves quickly to enhancing minimal requirements for survival--that is, "feeling better" than "just okay."
These first level creative moves directed at environment are crudely about moving toward what fits one's needs and away from what "feels bad," such as, toward warmth and away from cold, toward acceptable light and away from too much light, etc. A baby reaches out to grasp what "feels good" to touch, and pushes away objects which are too hot, cold, or sharp.
Soon, however, as consciousness increases, a child begins to, in effect, discover himself as well as the external world--or more literally, comes to realize that he/she is a prime mover with some degree of self-control (beginnings of becoming self separated from mother). Already he was powerfully "making things happen"--that is, moving creatively since birth; but now, with expanding consciousness, he begins to realize his own part in these movements. An I, we might say, is beginning to exist. Primal creative instincts can now be augmented with personal choices which were impossible in first days when an infant is essentially on automatic pilot.
And the instinctive creative agenda, recall, is: a) survive, and b) enhance survival--that is, exist, and then make things better, or a) "feel good," and b) "feel better." With an emerging sense of self, options in this second arena become immediately available through the inherited gift of sensitive nerve endings in certain parts of the body, especially "down there." Long before language becomes an option for naming these "places," every child "just knows" that touching anus and genitals "feels good." These bodily parts are, with sound genetic reasoning, blessed with greater sensitivity, and therefore capacity for pleasure, than, say an elbow or ear. Any emerging self who pays any attention at all discovers these biological facts long before he can voice his knowledge with language. "Ohs" and "ahs," yes, but not "penis" and "rectum."
Point: we are born knowing "what feels good," and soon discover how we, as emerging selves, can "make ourselves" feel even better--namely, by "playing with ourselves" in ways which are almost universally (as best I can tell) rejected, denied, shamed, and eventually bring punishment by many parents who are themselves already caught up in service of anti-pleasure social forces. And, regrettable for us as separate individuals but fortunately for us as social members, we seem destined to fall for the socially easier route of guilt rather than enhanced personal pleasure--that is, instead of perfecting creative arts of self pleasuring, we acquire social shames which "protect us" from this vital-but-now-being-severed part of ourselves, namely, innate human capacities for creative self-pleasuring.
Now back to my premise. I theorize that all other forms of socially acceptable creative activity, such as, painting, drawing, sculpting, etc., have their roots in this primal instinct for self-pleasuring. But once this innate urge to "feel good" is directed away from self (as in avoiding the "sin" of masturbation) then only external doors remain open. One may then "feel good" by projecting internal images (desires or things "seen" in the head or heart) "out there" and then touching or giving shape to them externally (where it is socially safe), but often at cost of splitting consciousness off from these vital genetic roots. Sublimation, it may be called in psychological language. Energies actually generated in one arena are sublimated or re-focused in other more acceptable directions. Touching, for example, one's penis, may be socially inappropriate, but touching a sculpted form, or drawing "figures" with contain "phallic symbols" may be allowed without rejection.
I illustrate here with socially recognized forms of creative "art" because they are easier to see; but in reality only a minimal amount of creative movements are, I think, focused in such "art." Most human creativity is more functionally directed to "shaping the world" which makes up our personal environment--that is, artfully managing circumstances and materials which directly (no symbolism required) enhance personal pleasure--for example, in pleasing one's mother, impressing teachers, or managing peers.
Although "personal relationships" are seldom seen as "media" for creative activity, I think that our earliest and most lasting forms of creativity are focused in these arenas. "Getting along" with one's mother, for example, in favorable ways which elicit her smile rather than her frown, requires immense creativity on the part of all children. If "giving up" natural self-pleasuring (repressing awareness of urges to touch oneself "down there") works in keeping Her Smile, then it must seem like a small sacrifice at the time when She is the functional goddess of the world.
Enhanced survival for everyone must require immense amounts of such "unconscious" creativity; but I place unconscious in quotes to emphasize the point I move toward making, namely, how repressed internal creativity sets the stage for creating external gods. Surely, most humans who survive well actually exercise high degrees of personal creativity--else they would not "make it." But, and this is my point here: they do so "unconsciously." We repress self-recognized creativity, beginning with creative moves toward self-pleasuring through condemned "masturbation," and come to see ourselves as "uncreative" or incapable of world-shaping. Not that we quit trying, or even succeeding in many regards, but once repression is initiated as a mode of survival, the most primal force in our seemingly universal denials is personal creativity.
We begin repressing our capacity to "make it" in pleasurable ways even before we clearly perceive "its" as separate from self. Then, as "its" (world as separate from self) become more evident and "I" push myself into the background (via repression), I begin to focus on making "its" out there rather than "I" in her--that is, continuing to create myself, especially via self-pleasuring.
Our most primal repressions, I think, are not simply of socially unacceptable activities like "playing with ourselves," but rather of creative urges toward self-pleasuring which underlie all such "feel good" movements. We don't simply stop touching ourselves "down there"; we more profoundly squelch awareness of creative instincts, of which genital/anal pleasures are but one readily available form of expression.
Or, to make a play on words, we don't simply curtail "playing with ourselves (touching sensitive nerve endings)"; we more deeply curtail playing itself--ourselves becoming the lessor victim. When a girl, for example, first denies her natural urge to "play with" her clitoris (create self-pleasure), she begins the process of repressing the creative instinct itself--which is only partially activated in masturbation. Along with "playing with yourself" goes "playing" in other far more relevant ways as well--another case of proverbial "throwing out the baby with the bath water"; only in this instance the bath water itself is more like perfumed than dirty.
Finally, I come to my original implication, namely, the potential connection between God and masturbation, or creativity and self pleasure. I theorize that an image of God (in all his diverse shapes, names, and genders) is first formed from projections of repressed human creativity--itself initially exercised in self-pleasuring. It is no coincidence that the first act of God in most religions is "making the world." This, I speculate, is precisely the primal human capacity which is first repressed and therefore in need of an object for projection. The necessity for "world making (creating the world in our own image)" does not go away with repression; only awareness of our own capacities for this creative endeavor are lost to ourselves. "They," once denied within ourselves, must go somewhere; after all "everything's gotta be somewhere."
And internal repression, by its very nature, requires external "objects (literally, images)" to bear the weight and powers which are first denied within. If, as I speculate, the most powerful of all human instincts are creative life forces which we later subdivide into 1) survival, and 2) reproduction, then they, once repressed from awareness, reasonably require an equally grand image to carry their forces. Enter, I conclude, God on the stages of human history--an Ultimate Creator, an image worthy of bearing the weight and power of our own awesome capacities now deemed too dangerous to contain (and still keep the light of Mother's Smile upon us).
Once I "forget" via repression the inherited creative forces with which I was gifted beginning with conception, then I must "remember (see)" them elsewhere; after all, denying creativity in awareness does not magically make the capacity itself "go away"--only my sense of myself gets cut off, as it were, from these roots of creativity.
The Creating Gods, or God the Creator in the case of monotheism, are, I conclude, the grandest creation of man (not woman--but that's another story!) for giving shape and form to inherited forces we, for whatever reasons, come to deny within ourselves. Or, focused in one minor-though-significant arena, capacities which begin with natural urges to "play with ourselves," once denied, signal the beginning of the end of responsible self creativity--both of play, self, and world.
God, of course, then gets the credit/blame; but we are the ones who pay for the loss.
Sexual responsibility has two major components: to oneself and with others--that is, both to self-alone and to self-in-community. If I am to be sexually responsible I cannot ignore either part of this primary aspect of being human in society. Since I am both one-apart and one-with, I cannot fully be myself if I leave either out. If I try to be only my separate self, gene directed, I ignore the fact that I am also a part of the communities in which I live--where memes take precedence over genes.
The good life, in Natural Theology (which is to say, as I see it), requires responsibility to both these aspects of myself. "I must," we might say, "be true to my genes and my memes." If I try to only respect my genetic heritage, pretending that I am not a part of society, I will predictably fail in full living; but on the other hand, if I repress my inherited drives, I become only a social automaton. Wholeness, being made of both, requires attention to both.
My first sexual responsibility is to be my masculine self--that is, to accept and become all those elements of instinctive male urges which have evolved in service of replication. In this sense, I am to be "purely animal," a prime product of Mother Nature's best efforts, so far, aimed at continuing our species. I must allow and respect all the genetic wisdom stored in my chromosomes and darker mind. I must, for example, honor my "gene eyes" as well as my blind desires. I need not understand, consciously, why I am like I am--why I have some desires and don't have others, why I want what I want, instead, for example, what I am told in society I should want.
But fortunately, understanding--a function of left brain reasoning, is not required for genetic being. It may, at times, even become a hindrance. Even so, the essential element in this first part of my sexual responsibility is being as fully sexual as I naturally am--like it or not, understand it or not. I can never become my whole self--as is essential for salvation (in Natural Theology), unless or until I embrace this aspect of what I have been given, that is, evolved to be.
Yet, as John Donne reminded us long ago, "No man is an island..." Since long before times of consciousness and memory, we have been born into, and thus a-part-of, various communities. I summarize this social fact in my term with others. I am both my lone-self and my with-others self. This second part of sexual responsibility focuses on this second aspect of my being. I must, if I am to be whole, also be responsible among other persons in the communities which make up my world.
I must accept and honor the memes among which I exist as surely as I do the genes with which I was born. I am not required to like or understand these social forces which continually surround me any more than I am the instinctive powers which move me among them; yet I am, if I am to live well, required to see, accept, and function creatively within their midst. If I ignore social powers which surround me, I am as destined for failure in the world as I am for failure in my self if I repress my instincts out of awareness.
Social responsibility, like its private counterpart, involves the elements of attention, awareness, respect, and creative expression of the "powers that be" out there, even as is also so with internal "powers that be." Just as I am to be consciously alert to inward urges, honoring them on the stages of my mind and activating them carefully in the world, so I am to be with outward directives.
The finest art of being a whole person is, in regard to sexual responsibility, creatively mixing these two major elements of myself--that is, being my masculine self in my awareness, and acting responsibly in society (with all other persons) at the same time, taking full account of all my inward urges and the social rules and laws evolved for mediating them with other persons. My proper business in the world is not, as some would have me believe, either to blindly obey social laws or to try to change and improve them (though I may, at times, attempt the latter), any more than it is to blindly accept or try to change the laws of nature.
The truly human challenge is to live creatively among and with both. Certainly the natural course of evolution, both of genes and memes, involves an upward spiral in which the values of each are continually in quest of greater satisfaction; this is the nature and genius of evolution itself. In this quest I may sensibly devote some attention to "improving the world," including its social structures, even as I seek to maximize my genetic pleasures; but, and this is the critical issue: never in escape or denial of "how things now are."
My major challenge is living artfully within both the genetic and memetic worlds as I now find them--and mixing them creatively to the best of my abilities.
Some of the specific challenges of creative living include: resisting the ever present temptation to repress instincts in quest of social affirmation; resisting the corresponding temptation to self-righteousness when I sometimes succeed in sexual repressions; learning bodily as well as mental arts of containing sexual passions within the confines of my skin and mind so that I have options for expressing, mediating, or cloaking them with other persons; respecting the many degrees of sexual repression which are presently operative in society, without transgressing or being done in by them; being consciously sexual in contexts which often make even the slightest hint of sexuality like a cardinal sin--and yet respecting both contradictory voices; walking carefully among those whose own sexual repressions are lightly held and thus subject to extreme threat and/or acting out irresponsibly.
Creative thinking (being reasonable) includes the whole range of mental activity, beginning with pre-conscious sense perceptions (as are the substance of dreams) and continuing to the apex of consciousness where all concepts are carefully weighed, ordered, and absorbed into self.
Creative thinking has no need for inspiration, either by muses, gods, or women, because it is inherently "spired"--that is, born of breathing itself.
The most primal source of beauty to a female lies in her inherited capacities for creativity, beginning with baby making. Nothing, I suspect, is more beautiful to a natural (unrepressed) woman than a perfectly formed baby, especially her own--that is, one properly proportioned, with ten fingers and toes, a symmetrical face and healthy body. The recognized phenomenon that most all babies are "cute"--until they begin to develop, reflects, I suspect, this near universal sense of beauty, especially to females.
In an existential sense, creating a baby, although a totally instinctive process, is like bringing order out of chaos. Before conception, genes are, in effect, in chaotic states of disconnection; but as soon as conception occurs in a woman's body, she is engaged in ordering previously disconnected cells related to replication.
This process of "ordering" cells in baby making is also like bringing harmony out of the chaotic union of sperm and ovum. The same process is later expanded to larger worlds beyond babies--to rooms which house them, all surrounding spaces and bodies, including mother's own body as well as that of her spouse and children. What begins, I theorize, with primal creation of a single baby (harmonizing chaotic genes), is predictably expanded to include the world-at-large.
The same characteristics of beauty to a female which begin with creating order out of chaos in the genetic world (harmonizing disconnected elements) are thereafter projected onto the larger world beyond babies. Consequently, such genetically moved persons continue throughout life trying to bring beauty into all the worlds they inhabit--that is, harmony in colors, shapes, and forms, just as they first did with creating a "beautiful" baby.
(From my Sane Society)
Art proliferates in sane society. Unlike present situations in which art takes back seat to most other socially affirmed activities, such as, business, education, politics, defense, etc., as human repression decreases, creativity increases--and with it, art explodes in all its wondrous forms. Instead of being at the lowest rung on the ladder of social values, the last to be funded and the first to go in case of budget crunches, art moves to the top. Not that others social functions cease to be important, but the delightful values of art are recognized, supported, and placed on center stage of all social interests.
Presently the well springs of human creativity, namely, instincts for survival and replication, are largely damned up due to personal repression in service of communal values. Genes, we might say, must now take a back seat in the elevation of memes. Perhaps this reversal of primal priorities has been historically necessary as civilization carved its challenging way out of the jungles of antiquity. But with emergence of sanity and re-affirmation of the finest gifts of Mother Nature, human creativity, unfettered by the drawbacks of social suppression, takes its rightful place at the heart of civilized activity.
This elevation of art becomes possible for two major reasons. When natural instincts are honored rather than suppressed, sublimation of forces generated in their activation into countless diverse forms becomes easily possible. Stabilized social conditions made possible by wider use of creative thinking set the stage for this return to natural creativity. Once external threats are reduced and populations stabilized, instincts evolved for self protection and replication can safely and sensibly be diverted into many other arenas of pleasurable activity.
Currently, human creativity is largely curtailed (art is low man on the totem pole of social adoration) because the natural powers which drive it are repressed and diverted into service of prevailing social values, such as, economic success and military preparations. Forces generated, for example, for fueling personal pleasures, are now commonly repressed within individuals and projected out onto social functions, such as, "helping others." Powers for selfingness are split between enforcing the difficult process of self-denial (repression) and supporting social virtues of "taking care of others" rather than self ("selflessness" over "selfishness").
In like manner, sexual powers generated for self replication are typically repressed within and inevitably projected without in a twofold way: first, positively, as onto females who are erroneously conceived as the forces who "turn on" male sexuality; and second, negatively, as onto an imaginary devil who is assumed to cause these "bad" desires in the first place. Then, when natural male passions are blocked within, men find themselves in a psychological double bind. Limited access to females, especially after projected male desires are turned into a source of power for female use, only magnifies awareness of denied forces within, thereby increasing the need for an acceptable "enemy out there." Love desires, we might say, are perverted into hate feelings.
Political leaders must have long recognized (even unconsciously) the potential value of repressed male sexuality, turned negative in the process of its denial, for service in patriotic dedication. Once sexually generated powers are thwarted and personal creativity denied, males become predictably frustrated (like females denied access to baby making); potentially positive passions are then perceived negatively--which calls for an "enemy" on which they can be projected. This familiar psychological paradox of love perverted into hate becomes a potent force in rallying troops to fight for leader-selected causes--such as, defeating "enemies of the state." Sexually frustrated men are eager to dissipate unrequited passions in socially accepted endeavors, especially various wars which allow immediate expression of anger resulting from repressed love desires.
Patriotic dedication--the male urge to fight, even die "gloriously" in service of any accepted "cause," is inversely proportional, I conclude, to repressed masculine sexuality. The more satisfied a man is, either in direct sexual experience or in sublimated artistic forms of the same instincts, the less hateful, angry, and hence inclined to sacrifice himself he becomes; conversely, the more repressed a man is, the greater his need for an external enemy on which to "vent his spleen" resulting from dammed up natural passions.
There are, of course, completely realistic reasons for fighting true enemies who actually threaten personal and/or social existence. Instincts for self-preservation are even more primal, I think, than those for self-replication; but here I focus on unrealistic creation of "enemies" which are needed more for stabilizing patriotic dedication and justifying individual aggression resulting from repressed creativity.
When society is primarily sane, this secondary use of perverted male powers becomes unnecessary. Reasonably, real enemies (assuming, of course, that not all persons and/or states are likewise sane) will always exist and require force both for self and social protection. Sensible males will therefore choose to defend themselves and their country out of sound and realistic desires for survival; but, and this is the point here, promoting patriotism and "rallying troops" via psychological tools of repression and enemy-creation are no longer necessary. Clearly accepted survival instincts, guided by lights of reason, are available and adequate for realistic defense in sane society.
Now back to the subject of art: when natural passions are unrepressed, as is the case in sane society, they become available for empowering human creativity in all its diverse forms. Beginning with artful sexuality--the purest form of all creative instincts, and extending to countless other arenas made possible by materials and technology available to current society, human artistry becomes the prevailing activity in all human endeavors.
First, sanely established social conditions, based on reasonable expression rather than blind repression of natural instincts, allow circumstances for art to flourish. Then, when males are unrepressed, energies previously denied within and projected without--either in positive quests for "getting girls" or negative endeavors of "defeating enemies," become available for natural creative purposes. When long evolved forces for survival and replication are consciously accepted, they can be reasonably activated in whatever arenas they are most practically applicable--that is, either in direct sexual activity (which is more easily possible in sane society) or in sublimated forms when sex itself is impractical.
Currently, capacities for human creativity are mostly activated in arenas of femininity--either directly by females in forms of baby making and child rearing, plus related areas of house decorating and personal beautification, or else by effeminate and/or gay males who are themselves less masculine. Consequently, most forms of current art are spin-offs from basic feminine interests--that is, related to female roles and desires, such as, clothing styles and forms of dress, make-up for facial beautification, paintings for room attractions, sculptures glorifying femininity, inventions aimed at pleasing female needs (e.g., home improvements), plus dance and music geared toward feminine values.
Male-type creativity, that is, forms more related to natural masculine interests, are largely limited to the conceptual realm (creating beautiful concepts), plus technology designed to enhance manipulation of data, and, of course, increasingly more sophisticated instruments for war.
In sane society, feminine related artistry will continue and escalate as more and more females are freed from primal genetic agendas related to replication and female power via beautification. With unrepression and greater personhood, females will have more time to explore other facets of feminine creativity.
But as artistry is loosened from its feminine identifications (as a "sissy" type activity), more masculine forms will also arise within social structures. Predictably, these will begin with creative forms of sexual expression and expand to include other types of focused activities, such as, increasingly more comprehensive concepts, inventions aimed at expressing masculine aggression responsibly in social circumstances (rather than war only), and other types of masculine interests yet to emerge clearly in male consciousness.
In summary: By art I mean creative human endeavors which are both self-expressive and inherently self-satisfying, with no purpose, aim, or goal beyond themselves alone. Social and/or personal rewards and benefits may sometimes result from certain forms of art which are more compatible with current social structures and values; but any such gains are entirely secondary and after the fact, never at the heart of an artistic endeavor which finds its fulfillment within the act of creation itself.
Forms of art are as boundless as are human capacities and available materials in the world. Art is easier to recognize when it takes some tangible form, such as, a painting or sculpture; but artistry, as intended here, may equally be evident in movements, actions, deeds, thoughts, encounters, and conversations. At heart art is about creation--that is, "making things (either tangible or intangible)" out of one's personal capacities and experience, giving form and shape to individual perceptions.
In sane society, art in all its diverse forms finds itself near the top of the scale of all human and social values--in sharp contrast to its current place nearer to the bottom. Because, I theorize, all creativity is most primally rooted in instincts for replication--that is, making babies who are literally "more of ourselves (as nearly as possible, that is, 50%, since sexual reproduction requires 2 of genes from the opposite gender)," child-creation is the prototype of all other creative forms. And, since females are the primary "makers," with males more like fertilizer than crop, femininity has reasonably been more associated with creativity itself.
Consequently, most current artistic forms embody various elements of femininity--such as, softness, harmony, peace, connections, female beauty, absence of discordance, etc., and artists in most accepted arenas tend to be more feminine than masculine, if not overtly homosexual.
Feminine-type artistry will continue as such, except enhanced by more public acceptance and greater affirmation. But a major addition in sane society is corresponding masculine-type artistry which focuses on and expresses characteristics and interests of natural males--even as does current art of genetic femininity.
Masculine artistry honors and expresses male traits, such as, hardness, aggression, competition, independence, conceptualization, winning, and supremacy. Its forms include eroticism (both in imagery and practice); athletic bodies and skills; games which focus on fierce competition and immense personal challenge; "beautiful"--that is, well reasoned concepts which merge all available date into one "supreme" whole idea or formula; tangible inventions which give shape to and satisfy male urges; plus representing each of these masculine characteristics in currently accepted artistic forms, such as, painting, sculpture, clothing, etc.
Creativity and consciousness are functionally synonymous. Existentially they are not the same, but in practice, inherited capacity for consciousness inevitably activates itself in creativity. The ability to hold perceptions in mind space is naturally expressed in creative endeavors--most primally, self-creation, but then shaping "things"--forms, circumstances, and relationships in the world in accord with one's unique genetic heritage brought to awareness in selfing-consciousness.
Although creativity is a holistic endeavor, on analysis (after the fact, or in the mind's eye) it may be broken down into two major categories: feeling and thinking, heart and mind, right brain and left, or images and concepts. Specific creative expressions may focus first on one and then the other of these elements, but no creation is whole or completed without activation and union of both. For instance, a creative decision may begin with a feeling (an emotional impression), but left there, it remains partial; only when the arts of reasonable thinking are added to the images of emotion, does fuller creativity begin to emerge. Or, conversely, creativity may begin with a logical, left brain idea; but left in mind alone, it remains limited to sterile analysis, devoid of the juices of feelings. Only when heart is added to head can holistic creativity take place.
Although certain guidelines are possible in the infancy of creativity and for times when faith is weak, there are no hard and fast rules for creativity in any arena. In accord with the ever evolving nature of the universe, self-creations are also continually evolving--that is, changing from place to place, time to time, and circumstance to circumstance.
Rules of thumb, like crutches, may be temporarily helpful; but there are no permanent laws for creativity since, by nature of itself, creativity is always "situational" or "in context" rather than "regardless of circumstances." Whenever any such guideline is made sacred or viewed as inherently "right," then creativity has already flown from the window of self. What remains may continue to structure time and even result in social rewards; but boredom and joylessness, if not craziness and/or living death, are predictable consequences of lost creativity.
Literally speaking, there are no rewards for creativity; the whole idea of rewards and natural good--even to say that such rewards are inherent rather than forthcoming, is but a play on words, an attempt to take concepts from one arena and make them applicable to another where in fact they do not naturally fit or apply. When one is good (creative) in this natural sense, all notions of reward/punishment are irrelevant to him or her. Certainly such goodness may in fact result in or be associated with external consequences properly seen as reward and/or punishment; but as perceived within, they are incidental, even coincidental, rather than truly related.
Consequently, as experienced inwardly, creativity or natural goodness might more clearly be seen as isness--not good or badness. As my first granddaughter said, at age 4, when pressed to name one of her created, original, drawings, "It just is."
Back then, as is the nature of naturalness, she had no concepts of good/bad, and could more wisely refer to her creativity as "just is." When we are existentially in touch, as little children, (or President Clinton quibbling over the definition of is, for reasons of his own), we may properly begin to make sense of what Andi already knew.
Summary: Sans judgments and forced language, natural good (creativity) "just is." The non-word isness is even better than goodness for naming such creations. Spin-offs from this fact are the absence of pride and shame for a creative person. Beyond (or before) judgments of good/bad, their related emotional states also disappear (or never arise). Consequently, creativity delights in its "goodness (isness)" but does not succumb to temptations of pride and self-righteousness, nor fall into embarrassment or shame, simply because its nature has no traffic with such emotional states based on judgmental systems.
Creativity is experiential and experiencing; consequentially, a creative person learns from each experience. His knowledge or internal data bank of prior perceptions is constantly expanding. With such appropriated experience ("lessons learned"), he, for example, only "hits his head against a stone wall" once or maybe twice, seldom thrice, and never more than three times, or creativity has been abandoned in favor of the lessor delights of habits.
Unsatisfactory experiences are seldom repeated and never ingrained as blind habits. Useful habits which free limited consciousness for more creativity are carefully kept so long as they remain so, yet are speedily laid aside in quest of greater satisfactions.
Although I suspect this is an over-simplification, creativity may best be seen as based in right brain capacities, with left brain skills as tools or servants, not master. Right brain functions predominate during creative activity. Left brain skills may be highly developed--and ideally so, but in terms of existentialism, a creative person bes right and has left, rather than vice versa. Therefore it is better to try to be creative and act sensibly, than to be reasonable and mimic creativity. If one must have a god, better He/She is Creativity than Making Sense.
Elements of right brain creativity as distinguished from left brain logic include: bodily rather than mind identification. This doesn't mean that right brained or creative persons are not reasonable, but they are reasonable-in-context, in the larger sense of reason. When one is bodily identified, "feels good" matters more than "looks good" or "makes sense." Want and desire are more important than impersonal duty. Comfort (pleasure) takes precedence over logic and reason.
Literally speaking, creativity is more like whole-brain thinking than either right or left. There is, I speculate, free flow of brain waves in both hemispheres as well as across the Corpus Callosum connecting them. Still, however, it seems that right brain functions are in the driver's seat when one is being creative.
Creativity is unworded, that is, apart from language itself. Words and language are left brain functions. Creativity doesn't aim at or care about verbal continuity, linear, logical thinking, or even word definitions. At its best and most active state, the more creative one is being, the less aware he is of left brain type sense-making; he literally does not know if he is "making sense." While creating, one may wonder, even ask often, "Does this make sense?," looking for this function from others.
In creativity one uses words freely, "creatively"--that is, unchained to definitions or logical conclusions. Metaphors are best for creative expressions in language. Literal language is relatively foreign to creativity.
Creative persons are given to superlatives because "large" terms are better at expressing feelings than are sharp definitions--e.g., always, never, most, and best, plus exaggerations, such as, fabulous, "the best I've ever seen," etc., even when this is clearly not the actual case, at least to one who is word oriented.
Meaning is a left brain function rooted in language and logic. A creative person rarely asks, "What does it mean?," and may be hard pressed to answer when asked about his most creative endeavors. Creative works are not required to "have a meaning"--at least, for those who are creating at the time.
Although most creativity begins with actual needs in the world--that is, arises out of the natural urge (first major instinct) to "solve a problem" related to survival or to enhance personal satisfactions (e.g., to make a mouse trap for catching bothersome mice, and then to "built a better mouse trap" for escalated satisfactions), in practice one being creative is rarely focused on any such specific goals or purposes. It is as though he is "caught up" in the process and "unmindful"--that is, not consciously aware of any specific purpose which may have initiated the move.
There may be an actual purpose, but when one is creatively engaged he rarely "thinks about it" and may indeed have completely forgotten what it was. (This fact may sometimes lead to creativity becoming an excuse for irresponsible artists.)
Time is a left brain idea, extremely functional in ordering life in the world, but essentially unknown to the right brain which is closely alert to timeliness (appropriate movements in response to circumstances rather than clocks), but is relatively oblivious to time as measured by calendars or mechanical gadgets. Hence, one may easily "lose track of time" while being creative. Also, "time flies," as we say, "when we are having fun (as happens in creativity)," or, "stands still." These are ways of trying to represent the untimed nature of creativity in language rooted in concepts of time and space.
While creating, one may speed when feasible, but never "gets in a hurry" or is "moved by time" as though he "has to finish" on a schedule. A recently popular song noted that "love is not always on time"; neither is creativity. In fact, it rarely is, except when clocks happen to correlate with timeliness.
Time, as measured by clocks, is relatively irrelevant to creativity which is, instead, characterized by situational timeliness regardless of any mechanical measurements. While one is being creative, it is as though clock time ceases to exist, or else stands still or flies by. In either case, there is no essential connection between creativity and measurable time.
While being creative, one doesn't worry about time or anything else. In fact, creativity and worry are antonyms--opposites, even enemies of each other. While being creative one's resources are wholly given to resolutions (new creative solutions) and hence are unavailable for waste in worry. "Worry," it has been said, "is like a rocking chair; it's something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere." Except, I observe, away from being creative.
Typically we think of creative people as inspired; and when one has a burst of creativity he/she is apt to think the same--that some other person or situation inspired the creation (painting, writing, etc.). Or, baring an identification with tangible circumstances, one may view personal creativity as being inspired by muses, the gods, or a god. Men commonly think of particular women, usually those we are in love with, as inspiring us to acts of creativity.
Metaphorically speaking, these descriptions are accurate, useful, and easily understood by others; but in reality, existentially speaking, they are mostly inaccurate. What is in fact an internal phenomenon (being creative) is viewed in such language as externally generated. In-spired means breathed into. In the metaphor it is as though the breath or moving force for the creative act was "out there" in, e.g., a lover, muse, or god, who somehow "gave" or otherwise put "it" into the one who actually did the creative act.
Sans metaphors, creativity might more literally be seen as spiration or ex-spiration rather than in-spiration--that is, the purer "breathing out" of a person, not an act initiated by "breathing in" of an external source. Descriptively speaking, especially by someone else, a creative act may accurately be seen as inspired; but existentially voiced by one who creates, it will be more clearly recognized as spiration or exhaling rather than inhaling. True creativity is "putting me out," not "taking something in" from out there.
In this primal sense breathing is a good comparative activity for representing creativity. No physical act is so crucial to human existence as that which is first done when we exit the womb, namely, struggling to breathe; and, I postulate here, creativity is but an expansion of this same innate urge toward life in the world. Obviously we "want" desperately to breathe, somehow "knowing" on a primal genetic level that breathing is essential to living; less obviously, but, I now think, with similar genetic direction we also "want" to create. Creativity, I conclude, is as primally directed as breathing. We naturally want to be creative, even as we do to breathe. Creativity is as natural as breathing. To be born as a breathing human is to also be born as a creating person. Creativity is less like a "special talent" than like the way we are all born to be.
Hence the aptness of comparing creativity with breathing. Both, I conclude, are of the essence of evolved human existence.
But the common view of creativity as inspired--that is, empowered from without, in contrast with my labored attempt to coin a new word, spiration, has another appropriate implication, namely, an element of gratitude. Although I think that the powers of creativity are innate in humanity, and hence more like an outpouring of what is natively within, rather than brought about by some external power, I also think that being creative is more appropriately viewed as a gift rather than a possession--and more a cause for gratitude than pride.
When I am creating, as I understand the process, it is truly like (note metaphor) "it" is "coming to me" or is in-spired, as distinguished from spired only. I do indeed "feel like" I am under the dictation of a muse or some separable force which is "moving me" to perform a creative act. Although I am self-affirmed in such an act, I do not feel as though I should "get the credit" or that I have any reason to "be proud" of what "I" have done. Certainly I "like," "feel good about," or otherwise enjoy a creative process and product; but beyond feeling pleasured and affirmed, I also feel grateful as though I have been allowed to create, rather than like an omnipotent one who "makes something out of nothing."
Point: I analyze creativity as being as natural and personal as breathing; yet at the same time I see it, while in process and afterward, as being more like a gift--something which "comes to" or though me, rather than from me.
Unfortunately, I think the traditional view of inspiration as source of creativity is in fact quite accurate for usual degrees of consciousness. I believe that the human capacity for creativity is so commonly repressed and hence projected, that in those relatively rare times when it appears again we do predictably see it is as coming from without rather than arising within. Our metaphorical speaking is lost on ourselves--that is, we speak in metaphors, as we see, not recognizing that our language is only descriptive, not literal.
I have previously begun to realize how commonly we males repress and project our capacity for re-productivity--the second most powerful of human instincts; I am only now beginning to see that we repress even more completely our capacity for productivity itself. If we project our capacity to re-create ourselves--as is becoming increasingly evident to me, how much more must we project our innate ability to create?
Answer: Almost entirely. Having done so, small wonder that we hunger for inspiration to create from "out there," and that we honestly credit apparent inspirers, quite unmindful of our own inherited creative potential.
Although "caught up in" or "moved by" or "inspired" are apt metaphors for translating right brain creativity into left brain language, they are literally inaccurate and dangerous when taken seriously--that is, believed in as truth. When one is being creative, insofar as conscious thinking is concerned, it does seem as though (metaphor) one is being moved by external forces; and when not being creative, as though one needs muses, gods, or inspiration.
But when one falls into such literal beliefs the danger of becoming irresponsible in the world, existentially and socially dependent, or even psychologically crazy escalates quickly.
Muses or "inspiration" may be apt metaphors for description and wise protection against the sin of self-righteousness; but creativity is literally more akin to breathing deeply as oneself than to getting-breath (the literal meaning of in-spiration) from any outside source other than the atmosphere surrounding us all.
Passion essential for creativity
cannot be inhaled from the breath of others,
even lovely and passionate ones;
only aping, perhaps cloaked with originality,
can be caused from out there
The fires of true passion, the stuff of creativity,
must be stoked within
otherwise, copying prettily
is all that I can do
What is dimly seen
as inspiration from without
is more clearly known
as conscious spiration within
breath being the primal stuff
of all creativity
Although creativity is natural and easily done, even by relatively helpless infants and small, physically dependent children, from an adult perspective, and especially following extensive repression, any creative decision or deed, even of the smallest form, becomes an act of immense courage.
Indeed, no human action requires more faith (religious name for courage) than any truly creative endeavor.
The courage related to creativity is not about being creative, but rather about daring to unrepress enough to allow natural juices to flow again. The nervy connection is not about "doing it," but about being present enough to "let it happen."
In terms of pure energy or "hard work," it is literally harder not to be than to be creative. Creativity itself is inherently energizing. Even though we lose this awareness during the course of repression, as the mode becomes habitual, denial is actually harder (as well as hardening) than is creative expression. We burn more BTU's of energy in trying-not-to-be creative, in maintaining stress, than we would in letting go and returning to natural creativity.
Repression, and hence non-creativity will literally "wear you out." Otherwise, creativity is continually rejuvenating.
Human creativity has no real place in traditional theology (of all major religions). There is no core doctrine about creativity, except occasional references to such "talents" as gifts of God. Prevailing theology about creativity is that it all belongs to God and none to man. He may disperse tiny bits to certain especially good or "chosen" people, but its source, if at all, is in God's power, now man's.
In fact, the most common characteristic assigned to God in all religions is creating. God and Creator are, in traditional theology, almost universally synonymous. In Christianity, for example, Genesis 1:1 begins: "And God created the heavens and earth...," and continues to account for His creating all else, culminating in mankind. All creating, then and now, is, insofar as most theology is concerned, attributed to God.
But in Natural Theology, as I understand reality, all such beliefs are seen as human projections resulting from self repression, done usually in quest of social (other human's) acceptance/approval. The capacity that we repress within ourselves, we in religion project onto God. Secular males tend to do the same, except onto Fate, a Universal Spirit, muses, and/or local females. In Natural Theology creativity is near to the essence of humanity, and the most universal of all our diverse genetic inheritances.
Sin, in Natural Theology, is about negating creativity via various types of repression; salvation is about the return and re-embracing of our original inheritance. Hence, I may say in the language of Natural Theology: Salvation is showing up, or, to be naturally present is to be saved. We sin (err or "go wrong") by denying and attempting to negate this universal human capacity. We repent--that is, turn back to the "right way" when we change from blind repression to creative expression.
The grandest error in all popular religions, from the perspective of Natural Theology, is the denial and repression of natural human creativity and its projection onto external images, such as, a Sky God "out there." This primary theological error also becomes, unfortunately, the most dangerous and finally destructive of many more in traditional theology.
Being naturally creative is inherently fun, pleasurable, exciting, invigorating, and joyful--that is, the source of heaven on earth, in the here and now, rather than there and later as in traditional theology.
Paradoxically, we both lose and find ourselves in being creative. The apparent loss, it turns out afterward, is only of our ego or erroneous sense-of-self, not of our existential unity. In creativity, after facing the risks of losing illusions which have served to cloak, and ideally protect us from threatening elements of reality, we find out who we truly are as we re-become naturally creating selves.
But while this larger process of "becoming ourselves" is an existential reality, the term itself is purely metaphorical. It may aptly express--as do all good metaphors, the process as viewed from the perception of ego (acquired sense-of-self), but what occurs literally becomes a second paradox, namely, that: to truly become or "be oneself" is to give up and let go of the illusion of having a self to be.
Again, paradoxically, to be yourself is to not have a self to be--that is, to literally become selfless. In a nutshell: to be yourself is to be selfless. Insofar as self is concerned, one who is being creative (selfless) recognizes and uses the word self as a functional grammatical entity, a left brain abstraction useful in conscious thought and communication with others, both written and verbal, but finally an entity of mind only.
Although common judgments identify innumerable moves with labels such as, mistakes, which are commonly accompanied by emotions like shame and often renewed efforts to "do better," creativity has little room for these or any other put downs on one's moves or self.
Certainly being creative includes visions of harmonious forms, plus diligent efforts to structure or achieve them. The process of moving toward such ideals is indeed the nature of being creative; but awareness of complexities in "getting it right"--that is, in accord with inward desires and visions, as well as delighting in the process itself, gives creative persons an uncommon perspective on what is usually condemned as a mistake.
Once the elusive path toward creative satisfaction is seen and accepted, so-called mistakes are more like the order of the day, major steps on the path toward potential completion, than like "bad" things done. Literally, they are accepted learning steps in the creative process, pursued courses which inform one about potentially more productive directions.
As such, negative judgments are removed from these valued "teachers" as one delightfully pursues the circuitous path of all truly creative endeavors.
Change is the middle name of creativity. When one is being creative, few things are nailed down so securely that they won't come loose as the tides of perceptual satisfaction roll in and out. Permanence is anti-creativity, not because certain stabilities and constancies aren't desirable, comforting, and satisfying, but because the nature of reality as discernable by human senses is constantly in a state of flux. Our universe, and all things and relationships within it, is continually unfolding. Only briefly and temporarily do things remain the same--at least to those who observe with creative eyes.
Surely, like water and rocks, some changes are quicker and others slower; but all in all, change is far more characteristic of our perceivable world than permanence. Therefore, to remain openly present in reality as we experience it, our only viable option is to adapt to ever-changing circumstances, or to in effect price ourselves out of the real world. As rigid and inflexible, we may take temporary comfort, even pride, in illusions of permanence; but creative living calls in other directions.
Only left brain thinking is orderly in an immediate sense. Ultimately, or in larger perspectives, creativity leads to grander order; but during the event the nature of creativity is more like disorder than order. Creativity "jumps around," moves quickly from this to that "without knowing when or where." It is constantly open to impulses, inclinations, and new ideas, so that temporary order may seem almost non-existent. Its process toward larger order often seems "completely unorganized"; consequently, compulsive ordering is a grand enemy of creativity. Also, creative ones are in constant danger of escaping into habitual disorder in unconscious rebellion against orderliness and to thereby undermine the creative process.
For one being creative, versus running from or hiding in, order is a practical servant, not a virtue, nor is disorder a cloak for limited creativity.
Creativity is more akin to "feeling" than to "thinking"--as the words are commonly used. While one is being creative, it is as though he is being "moved by feelings" rather than ideas. But on analysis, the terms are deceptive because actual emotions may be less operative than careful thinking--that is, current brain activity in artistic living is holistic.
Unfortunately the word thinking is commonly associated with left brain mental activity only, especially by males who tend to identify with our left brains, and feeling has been left for what is more literally seen as right brain thinking than literal emotions. Certainly creative ones are being emotional in the sense of emotional capacities activated, but they are not trapped in or determined by feelings alone. In fact, insofar as whole brain is concerned, they are thinking far more than those (usually male) who try to limit their thinking to logic/reason only.
In general, females are more creative than males. This may be due to innate capacities, including a larger Corpus Callosum, and the fact that males tend to get caught up in focused, left brain type thinking only.
The confusing observation that there are more male than female artists (as commonly defined) may be explained by: 1) limited definitions of creativity which focus on objects, such as, paintings and sculpture, or mechanical inventions rather than living matters; 2) done by men who somehow survive, either by inherited wealth, patronage, or female support, to achieve greater freedom from daily responsibilities, such as, making a living, rearing a family, etc., and thereby to devote themselves more fully to natural expressions; 3) latent or overt homosexuality--that is, less limitation to the masculine end of the gender scale and more whole or bi-sexuality. These artistic males may simply have embraced more of the femininity inherent in all persons, male and female.
Creative living is rooted in natural ethics rather than better known social/religious ethics. Natural ethics are more subjective than objective, spiritual rather than religious--that is, from a private "religion" rather than any organized religion.
Natural ethics are situational; right is always dependent on circumstances, that is, regarding rather than regardless. Right is "right for me" rather than "what they say." Shoulds are closer to woulds than to oughts--that is, to "what I feel that I should do" than to "what they say I ought to do." Nothing is regardless in creative ethics; there is no Ultimate Truth or final principle beyond what works.
Rules are all rules of thumb, temporary tools rather than permanent directives.
Ethics in creativity are always personal and situational, rather than objective and regardless. They are also continually changing in content and form, rather than permanent and rigid.
Better descriptions are "feels right" than "is right," "right for me, even if not for others." This doesn't mean that creative ethics are determined by emotions rather than reasons, or whims versus rules, but that creative decisions, the content of creative ethics, are more subjective than objective.
Real dangers lie more in non-creativity than in actual creative living. Greater risks lie in not-being-creative, because being creative means always adapting to new circumstances with fullest personal knowledge. Even when creative responses turn out to be erroneous or wrong, losses are only external rather than to personal integrity.
Even so, there are indeed real dangers associated with creative living. First, compulsive "creativity" can become an escape from social responsibility. Blind acting in a supposedly "creative" way (I use quotes to indicate the false nature of such acts) may be but one way of forcing others to take care of you--that is, an excuse for immaturity, for refusing to "grow up" and become responsible for oneself.
Also, delights inherent in creativity can become seductive sirens tempting one into ultimately destructive hedonism, or, worse still, negative Solipsism--cut off from the real world and trying to exist in a private world on one's own making, apart from human connections.
Finally, various forms of psychological craziness, such as, schizophrenia or self-splitting, can occur when one escapes too far into "art" as a means of repressing awareness of the larger world beyond self interests.
Recognition of others, either in the form or accolades and/or wealth, is relatively irrelevant--and often dangerous to being creative. Creativity is personal-vision-in-form, not aped structuring or copying shapes which have arisen in the visions of others. What They Think is unimportant to creativity except for pragmatic reasons related to physical survival (e.g., making a living or avoiding incarceration); psychological needs, such as, other-approval or permission to be, are outside the realm of personal creativity.
Energy for fulfilled living is more closely associated with being creative than any other source. This is because creativity requires continual perceiving, and perception is the most primal initiator of genetic powers, far more so than inspiration or chemicals.
Creativity is synonymous with the flowing of natural "juices" which are also the best medicine for natural health.
Creating is being "godly"; to be creative is to be god-like--not to have a god, or to be a god oneself, but to personify the essence of godliness, which is creativity. God is Creating, and whenever man is creating he/she participates in ultimate reality--which is to say, God.
Metaphorically, we may personify experiencing this aspect of ultimate reality and say in nouns that God is Creator, that is, maker of things (e.g., world and all within it). Then, on a finite level, when we ourselves create, we are existing, participating, or being in Him/Her who creates. But such grammatical devices are dangerous because they may easily tempt one to escape reality into illusions of knowledge and possession, not to mention, self-righteousness, which cloak idolatry and lack of faith required for remaining present, creating, as ourselves.
Creating and projection are antithetical, even mortal enemies. The more we project, the less we create; and the less we project (or more we withdraw former projections) the more creative we may become. This is because projection onto images is inevitably accompanied by loss of personal powers essential for creating. After projection, it is as though our images contain power and we don't. We may have events of creativity while under illusions of favor from our icons (gods, muses, lovers, etc.), but even such bursts or periods of creativity are notably short-lived and lacking in self-affirmation. Under sway of supposedly inspiring icons, we may in fact perform (act) creatively; but even then our gods get the credit and we are more likely to end up abased and/or self-righteous, but in either case less, not more, ourselves.
When such apparent metaphors (like movement by muses or inspiration by angels or lovers) are recognized as such, they may be useful in communicating with others or thinking in an objective fashion less tempting to escape into self-righteousness; but taken literally, any such metaphors invite the above noted dangers.
Illusions of empowerment by external images--when they are seen as smiling favorably on one, making, as it were, the creative juices flow, often lead to a secondary illusion, namely, of personal irresponsibility. If the gods are causing the creative urges, or the muses telling you what to do/make/write, etc., then reasonably you are "only an instrument in their hands"--that is, personally irresponsible for what you create. The external images may get the credit, but they also must bear any blame. "After all," one may irresponsibly feel and/or say, "I was only following orders. I myself could/would never have done/said such and such!"
But all such temporary advantages of projection also come at considerable costs. Among them are: 1) dependence on the whims and favors of icons for moving powers of creativity, without which one must remain uncreative. Their favor, of course, requires reading their often difficult to read minds as well as navigating the tides of their moods and changes. What types of behavior, for example, or beliefs, rituals, etc., will gain their approval? Or, what will cause them to frown and withdraw their favors? When one must depend on icons for moving force, then he is constantly in danger of withdrawn approval--and therefore, moving power to create. Continually measuring up to the often fickle demands of any icon can be a life-demanding challenge which may undermine the very creativity they hopefully have to give.
For one being creative, perfection is an ideal image or inward vision toward which one continually moves or seeks to shape in objects, circumstances, and relationships. Indeed, as such, the quest for perfection is at the heart of all creative activity.
But unlike perfection as popularly conceived, creative perfection is always a vision-in-flux, a picture seen and sought, but never presumed to exist "out there" as a tangible shape, physical or mental. Nor is any creative vision assumed to be permanent in time. Although a creative person is often moving toward such an image, he recognizes that even while diligently in pursuit, it may in fact change long before he arrives there. In fact, the very notion of arrival (getting there, finishing, completing a perfect image) is foreign to the process of creativity. Even when other's see, e.g., a created object as perfect, the creating one rarely does, except briefly.
Also the typically human quest for a perfect god, goddess, or icon-for-inspiration (if not salvation) is foreign to a creative person. The perfection a creating one seeks is more akin to his inward vision than to any idolized "object," either ethereal or tangible. He seeks to fulfill inward dreams, but does not try to find, get, or keep perfect forms "out there." Nor does a truly creative one evade the necessity for faith-to-create by looking for perfect icons to "make" him create or cause creative juices to flow.
When one's blindly empowered images are human rather than godly, earthly versus heavenly, then an additional challenge becomes inevitable, namely, the quest for ever-increasing degrees of perfection in inspirational icons. Following projection, presumably a more powerful god or perfect model, e.g., female breast, butt, or figure, or a more "understanding" or sexually responsive woman, will be able to move one to greater heights of inspiration at best, or at least larger turn-ons.
Or, in the absence of such perfection, periods of boredom, non-creativity, or even impotence can logically be blamed on absent or imperfect images. "If God would only smile on me," or, "If I were just married to so and so..." or, "If you had a better figure (weren't so fat, or understood me better, or...ad infinitum)," then I could be creative and happy.
But on the other hand, when projections have been withdrawn and their associated powers re-embraced within oneself, qualities or degrees of perfection of surrounding images become increasingly less relevant. Once one comes to realize that "its not out there," and existentially becomes the powers generated by perception (Stage 4 of Creative Process), then seeing/sensing most any shape or form can initiate inward forces of creativity.
Furthermore, sans projections, extended periods of time between inspirational bursts--themselves dependent on fickle heavenly gods or degrees of perfection in available earthly images, may be considerably shortened. When moving forces for creativity are known within rather than required from without, then creativity can occur most anytime, anyplace, and commonly does.
Only in idolatry, when an image has become an icon
a vision a god
does proximity or perfection matter much
seeing a female figure, or breast, for example,
at a distance or near at hand
is much the same
and a perfect oval or drooping cup
can equally evoke images inviting creativity
But once an image is idolized
nearness is glorious
and of course a god must be perfect
Diligence in quest of increasingly perfect external
such as, omnipotent gods or idolized female figures
is proportionate with degrees of internal repression
the more we deny any capacity
such as creativity or lust-ability
the more we are moved to seek perfected icons out there
able to bear the weight and power
of what we evade in here
Creativity is rooted in ever-increasing, finer and finer discernments--that is, sensitive recognitions of worldly perceptions. When one is awake and alert, grasping the present, remembering the past, and melding both into harmonious wholes (as creative persons constantly do), ever new data allows for sharper and sharper discernments of differences. But--and this is the critical issue, a creative person never slips from sensitive discernment into crude judgment.
Differences, he notes clearly, but put downs--or ups, are foreign to the creative process. Instead, each such increasingly fine discrimination becomes the material for a fuller and more perfect vision, yet without degradation or elevation of any other discernment, either of oneself or others.
In summary, creativity can be identified with continually finer and sharper perceptions ("sensitivities"), but creative persons do not escape the human process by playing god with what has already been created.
While one is being creative, images are a delight and a tool, not an end in themselves. Certainly they are never made sacred into icons. Images may be physical and/or mental, such as, objects in the world, photographs in a book, pictures in memory, visions in the mind's eye, or ideas (beliefs, thoughts, philosophies) in the mind.
In either case they remain temporary expediencies, delightfully accepted without clinging in the moment of their perception, or playfully held awaiting translation into some form which also becomes, on completion, equally dispensable.
As useful tools, they become the primary substance of creativity. Creativity, most essentially, is translating mental images into physical forms, while carefully avoiding idolatry of any of them. Idolatry begins as a primally creative act of giving external shape to internal perceptions. As such it is an essential second step in the overall creative process. Image-making, we might say, is an inherent aspect of humanity, a key element in being ourselves as Homo sapiens, rather than remaining like one of our animal ancestors.
But such natural image-making is to be carefully distinguished from idol-making--an ultimately de-humanizing act, in which a malleable image is frozen, a changeable awareness is permanentized, and what began as a delight and potential tool is instead bowed before as though it were a sacred object (physical and/or mental).
In religious contexts such frozen images become idols--for mantle and/or mind, that is, sacred figures or carvings which may be placed on an altar (or in a church) or idolized beliefs--frozen ideas taken as sacred ("the truth") and thereafter to be worshiped and separated from any further thought or examination.
Although collecting images of one sort or another, such as, photographs, delightful objects, or harmonious ideas, may itself become one form of primary creativity, bringing delight in the process, such collecting can easily become a dangerous evasion of more complex forms of creativity which engage greater degrees of human capacities--that is, collecting (or a collection) may become an icon, a sacred image within itself.
Finally creativity is an individual matter, private and essentially separate from all other persons--that is, personal, subjective, a product of one unique-in-all-the-world combination of genetic (DNA) material gathered in one skin and seen as a separate person.
Other persons become significant as sensually stimulating "objects" just as do trees, birds, and sunsets, and as engaging, lively, life forms more capable of eliciting personal responses than any other single "object." But still, no matter the number, quality, or extent of one's relationships, or the degree of personal contact with any or all of them, creativity finally and forever remains a personal process. Others may stimulate and influence creativity, positively or negatively, but even the smallest creative act remains the product of one en-skinned individual.
Vast stimulation, that is, invitation to a wealth of perceptions, is available from any other human being; more so, I think, than from any other aspect of reality. Nothing is potentially more delightful and naturally image-provoking than another person, especially a relationship with one. But with these wondrous opportunities for image-making, immense dangers to creativity are also inherent in all human relationships.
Most notable are the temptations which all other persons present to evade personal creativity (being one's naturally creative self) by escaping into illusions of dependency and/or idolatry. I say illusions, but while such evasions of self-responsibility are in progress, they are seldom seen as such. Nor is human idolatry easily recognized. More often it parades as admiration, inspiration, or love, cloaking the idolatry at its roots. Inevitably, in all such forms of unrecognized human idolatry, personal powers of creativity are repressed and blindly projected onto the liked, loved, admired/adored person who is thereafter looked to for personal acceptance, understanding, approval, inspiration, blessing, and overall permission to be (or return to being) one's naturally creative self. While such "love" is operative, the goddess-type worship it requires is, of course, unseen by one who in effect bows before the altar of such a "loved one."
Shame, and its flip side, pride are escapes and/or enemies of creativity. Each is a psychological distraction at best, and a mortal destroyer at worst. To the degree that one is either ashamed or proud of himself, he is thereby prevented from being his otherwise creative self. For example, shame of body, or any of its natural desires and functions, is a dam blocking the flow of creative juices.
Likewise with pride in self or any prior creations. Such pride, like shame, is an inevitable block against further creativity.
Unrecognized humility is the surest sign of truly being creative.
Courage in Natural Theology is faith in traditional theology. As such, being creative is the ultimate act of faith. In colloquial language, "It takes more courage to create," or, in religious language, "More faith is necessary for creativity," than for any other human endeavor. Certainly there are many physically dangerous activities, e.g., climbing mountains, etc., which take courage, and spiritually challenging deeds, e.g, believing in God, which take faith; but when all is said and done, in the real world nothing is more courageous or faith-demanding than even the smallest degrees of truly being creative.
The reason for this is that at every turn of a creative process, both the world and one's self are at stake. Since world and self-making lie at the heart of being creative, one who dares even one creative decision is risking destroying his greatest comforts and securities of the past, all the while moving into a truly unknown future. Even the presence of a powerful vision cannot relieve a creating one from mustering the courage necessary to let go of the past and venture into a potentially impossible future.
Certainly a good dream or grand vision of perfection may point the way; but finally each move toward it, each hammer, brush, tongue, or pen stroke activated in the process, cannot but be another act of courage.
To truly be creative is to be brave, courageous, and full of faith (faith-full).
Although creativity takes shape in actions, the bridge between being and doing is decision--"making up one's mind," deciding for oneself "what to do," and especially, "what not to do."
All decisions involve drawing lines, distinguishing between this and that, and opting for one or the other. But creative decisions are characterized by the basis on which they are made and the nature of one's commitment thereafter.
Ordinary decisions may be based on external directives or internal repressions. Available external directives include: laws, mores, fads, desires (wishes, wants) of others persons, religious figures (God, Jesus, Devil, etc.), plus the near omnipotent meme, What They Think. Internal repressions are evidenced in unconscious modes of action, plus habits so ingrained as to be predictable and acted-out without thinking. Unconscious modes include: personality traits and patterns not determined by genetics, such as, habitually deferring to others or always taking the lead, rebelling or complying, etc., or established reactions rooted in a limited sense of self, e.g., smart/dumb, pretty/ugly, capable/incapable, strong/weak, etc.
In contrast, creative deciding always considers all such external information (from laws to What They Think), and remains alert to unresolved internal repressions, but is more widely based on a wealth of other private data, the chief ear marks being conscious awareness and personal reasoning. Private data includes: desires (wants, urges, genetic drives), emotions, right brain inclinations (6th sense "feelings"), plus a host of left brain data including remembered past experiences possibly related to current events, current sense information inherent in being present and aware, knowledge about possible consequences of present activities (predictability), personal goals at the time beyond such primal movers, e.g., securing public approval, making money etc.
The essence and activity of a creative decision is mixing and merging all this wealth of diverse information into one harmonious whole, deceptively known as "making sense" or "being reasonable" in light of all available knowledge.
The content of such creative decisions ranges from sensible mental conclusions (logical ideas formed from available information), to courses of action in the world, e.g., what to say or do presently or in the future.
Summary distinctions between creative and ordinary decisions: conscious versus unconscious; self-made versus other-directed; include all data versus limited information; weighted consciously versus blind reactions; energizing versus draining; "feels right" or "makes sense to me" versus "responsible" in eyes of others; acts of courage versus cop out on self.
Creative deciding carefully considers What They Think along with all other personal information; but "their thinking" is never the determining factor, only one more bit of personal data. Creative decisions are always viewed as temporary summaries based on best information at the time, but never as permanent or sacred conclusions (idolized notions) which will dictate any future action. One can always change a creative decision when new information appears.
Even the most comprehensive creative decision can be completely discarded as circumstances and data evolve.
Consequences of creative decisions: no regret when change seems feasible; dedication may be seemingly complete and extended in time, but in fact creative commitments are all lightly made and personally known to be changeable at any time.
Creative writing is essentially the same as any other form of creative activity, such as, sculpting--the major difference being a language rather than clay production. When writing is creative, it is simply the tangible shaping of creative thinking--that is, creative ideas put into words, much the same as a creative sculptor puts images into physical shapes.
Although some attention is usually given to shaping words and ideas in accord with established rules of language and grammar, major energies go to creating verbal pictures which conform as much as possible to personal perspectives--whether or not grammatical rules are followed or such written creations may be easily understood by others. As with a creative painting, what matters with a creative writing is that its words and their formations harmonize with an inward ideological "vision" rather than an externally established mode of thinking, e.g., accepted beliefs and philosophical and/or theological thinking.
As with any other form of potentially creative expression, writing too may become an escape from continuing creativity and blindly transformed into an icon (or habit) itself. When so, one uses writing to, for example, avoid the risks of fuller presence in a moment (such as this walk on the beach with note book in hand) to avoid, e.g., emotional responses at the time or challenges inherent in any human relationship.
Creative writing, or photography, etc., is less about "getting" or capturing perfect ideas or images, than about giving harmonious shapes to inward visions of mind or eye (mind's eye or body's eye).
Although creative writing may or may not be read by others, it is never for others (in the colloquial sense of this term). More literally it is for oneself--that is, shaping oneself in language forms. Its specific purposes, if any, may be: becoming more conscious of dark images by decoding them into conceptions; finding out, as it were, what one truly thinks about a subject. Writing has a way of requiring reason and clarity which is easily missed in inward thought only.
Where one is, the quality of circumstances
is relatively irrelevant to creativity
which flows in accord with inward harmonies
more than outward places
For purposes of thought and communication
creative urges may be seen and said
to be coming from a Holy Spirit
or muse, god, angel, et al,
but for personal clarity and consciousness
all such external images
may wisely be decoded into concepts
thereby freeing oneself to continued creativity
not dependent on the pleasure of outside gods
or their local representatives
Possessions often become crucially important in proportion to the extent of personal repression; the more repressed one is, the more possessions may come to matter. But when one is being creative, possessions become relatively irrelevant except as tools or resources for creativity, either in the short run, e.g., paints and brushes, or long run, e.g., shelter for comfort with the elements of nature.
This is because possessions are more about having and creativity is more about giving, e.g., shapes/form to inward visions. Except for their utility, possessions may become a drag on creative living. Creative persons hold all possessions lightly, placing no sense of personal security in them.
Paradoxically, being creative is "being yourself" without a having a self to be. While one is being creative, selfing is at its fullest apex; yet at the same time a creative person is essentially selfless. For example, creativity and self-consciousness are antithetical. Few things inhibit creativity more than being self-conscious, that is, holding illusions of self as an entity subject to loss by oneself or harm by others. One must let go of such self (ego) notions before the juices of creativity begin to flow. And whenever they are resurrected again in consciousness the forces of creativity fly, as it were, out the window.
Logic and language notwithstanding, we cannot be ourselves and at the same time have a self to be. Having and being, it turns out, are poor bed fellows.
This does not mean that one can't be self-aware and creative at the same time. But self-awareness and self-consciousness are distinguishable states of being. In the first, a creative person is as aware and alert to internal selfing as he is of outward perceptions; but lively inward being, as implied in the participle selfing, is not the same as having a static self, subject to nouns and articles (e.g., a self). Before self-consciousness can occur, one must have escaped the lively, on-going, ever-changing nature of selfing, and become trapped in a static illusion (seen as a self), either in conscious categories (e.g., Bruce) or repressed perspectives (e.g., sense-of-self as dumb, ugly, incapable, etc.
To the degree that one becomes self-conscious, as in, worried about what others may think, to that same extent he has evaded the challenges of being naturally creative (as "oneself").
Because of its constant contact with the ever-changing universe, creativity often appears as fickle at the time. Even though there is more long term stability in being creative than in striving for or trying to be consistent or permanent, creativity may indeed appear to be more fickle than dependable at any given moment.
Creativity exists--begins, takes form, and ends, on the growing edge between the known and unknown. Consequently, tolerance for the unknown is a prime prerequisite for being creative. Creativity is curtailed by fear of the unknown, and finds its fullness in loving mystery. The known is made up of all prior experience, both genetic and personal; the unknown includes all potential perceptions in each present moment.
The unknown takes shape in not knowing "what's gonna happen" next or in the future, what caused what is, "the answer," or what is "right to do." It exists not merely in these facts of life, but in personal consciousness of them. Commonly the unknown is denied to awareness, cloaked by stances of certainty, illusions of knowledge, and false confidence based on repression of awareness.
The most familiar human stance includes a deep fear and constant avoidance of any acknowledgment of the unknown, especially by males. Typically, males cloak the unknown with theories we confuse with truth, while females may pretend to not know (even to themselves), cloaking a large body of knowledge. The unknown may also be named mystery, but the latter term, being more socially acceptable, can easily cloak the severity of these states of avoidance of reality.
The nature of the human condition is living in the presence of vast unknowns, commonly cloaked to awareness with bits of information and theories of cause and effect, regularly confused with The Truth. The actual human condition, void of repression and denial, is like living in a house with a huge pink elephant in every room; but the prevailing stance, especially by males, is to deny its existence, to not see its continual presence in all that we do.
Were we able to objectively view humans on earth--as might a god in the sky, all human knowledge or information about reality would, I speculate, be like a speck of known in an ocean of unknown, that is, minuscule in comparison with the actual unknown continually surrounding us all.
As creativity increases--as we become less and less repressed and hence more present and fully aware, I speculate that tolerance of the unknown may even phase into love; that is, beyond being able to stand this aspect of human experience without deep fear, we may actually find joy and happiness in mystery acknowledged and encountered.
Being fully aware of the actual unknown might be described as: 1) As easily able to say "I don't know" as to say, "I know."; 2) Recognizing all so called Truths as functional working assumptions which are in fact but accepted theories that may or may not be right; 3) Beliefs, both religious and secular (e.g., "Jesus saves," "mother knows best"), are the most common cloak used to shield ourselves from the threatening unknown. Consequently as one dares move nearer to this aspect of human reality, beliefs begin to fall away, leaving one more clearly able to acknowledge the continually present unknown.
This perspective (acknowledging the unknown) is not a put down on potential human knowing or an affirmation of ignorance--but rather an effort to bring all knowledge into a clearer view, especially in the context of larger unknowns.
Pursuing knowledge is, I think, rooted in primal instincts for survival and replication. We naturally seek to know more and more as a means of enhancing survival and maximizing replication. But such functional pursuits need not blind us to the larger contexts in which all education and religious beliefs actually exist, namely, in the presence of vast unknowns.
SIGNS OF REPRESSED FEAR OF UNKNOWN
1. Rush for explanations or causes for every unusual perception; compulsion to explain all quickly.
2. Faulty or shallow reasoning in quest of quick answers.
3. Close-mindedness, prejudice, or refusal to hear additional or contradictory data after a single explanation has been found.
4. Gullibility or leaping to quick answers to avoid fear of not having one.
5. Can't easily say, "I don't know"; can't take directions ("being told what to do").
6. Appearing as a "know it all"; an attitude seen as "you can't tell him anything"; self-righteousness; "always has to be right."
7. Dependence on intellectual information for self-confidence; at sea without knowledge, names, explanations, etc.
Truly creative decisions, all the way from where to move a brush next to what to do with my life, require continual openness to new perceptions and information, each of which may lead to immediate changes in direction.
Because we truly exist continually in the presence of the unknown, in order to be present as creative persons, we have no choice but to remain open to data from it. Surely, significant data may come from lighted past or personally acquired information, but it may also come from the ever-present dark unknown.
Whenever I am, out of fear or habit, shut off to the unknown, I am obviously incapable of being informed by data from it. In the language of spirit (metaphored muses), I cannot be moved by any new Spirit Of Wholeness when I am cut off from its unknown directives.
Females in general have far less fear of the unknown than do males. More easily they say, "I don't know," and mean it. But often they use their comfort with not knowing as a power tool with males who "have to know."
If males "act like we know" more than we actually do (as is commonly so), females more often "act like they don't know" as much as they actually do. They pretend (unconsciously, I suspect, most of the time) not to know for reasons of power, just as men do the opposite.
In the midst of creative endeavors, all capacities are so completely activated that long range purposes become relatively lost to conscious thinking. At the time, creativity seems completely engaging and satisfying in its process--as though it were its own aim and reward. Still, from an objective perspective, even the most apparently useless creations may be recognized as in accord with the fuller nature of inherited humanity, namely, artful efforts aimed at enhanced survival and/or maximum replication, if not in time and numbers, at least in the activation and satisfaction of instincts evolved for service in these purposes.
Literally speaking, purpose (meaning, reason, aim, goal, etc.), like time and numbers, is a human concept, a product of left brain activity rather than existent in the natural world. Forming such conceptions may be creative, left brain activities which are themselves invaluable mental tools in extended human existence. But for clarity of understanding and avoidance of idolatry of them, they are best seen as the mental constructs they always remain--that is, possible creative mental concepts, potentially useful in extended creativity, but more like tools than sacred icons.
For instance, questions about the purpose or meaning of life are commonly predicated on a previous, usually unconscious, elevation of this concept to god-like status, e.g., with the capacity, if the correct answer is discovered, to "bring happiness." An illusion or false sense of personal security may accompany an assumption of knowing such answers to the "riddle of life"--e.g., "to serve God," "to help other people," or, "to make the world a better place."
Unfortunately such feelings of security based on assumed-to-be right answers tend to be short lived as well as fragile in the process, because they are rooted in a mental trick which requires the negation of creative thinking to begin with, namely, repression or ceasing to remain open to hoards of contradictory data easily available for every such answer-made-sacred.
When any ultimate purpose, such as, "the meaning of life," plus all lessor aims beneath a huge mental umbrella, are seen in perspective, they may, like a painter's paints, be useful tools of creativity; but made sacred and given personal allegiance beyond tool status, any such goal becomes an enemy of creativity and a danger to good living now.
Society appropriately places all emphasis on the products of creativity--the end of the process, and only then when they are of obvious service to social needs. From the perspective of the groups within which artists live, this is as it should be.
But as I understand creativity itself, its goals or end products are relatively irrelevant to the process of creating. The fun, excitement (literally, "citement"), satisfaction, fulfillment, affirmation, etc., are about 99% inherent in the process of creation, with only 1% left for focus on its completion. Perhaps a good creation calls for a passing glance, a moment of self-acknowledgment, but, insofar as the creator him/herself is concerned, only a fleeting bit of attention. As soon as one creation is completed, no matter what its form--whether a creative thought, deed, or object, a creating one will naturally move on to further creations. No time for gloating or pride in the on-going process of natural creation.
Not that end products are irrelevant to a creating one; indeed, "finishing something" is often critically important in creating. One may feel "consumed," even "lost," while in the midst of an intense creative process. Still, the urge to "finish" is less related to the final creation than to the fuller satisfaction of finally "getting it right,"--that is, "brewing over the process" until the shape of the act or object is congruent with the image which preceded it.
"Getting it right" matters much in creation, but "right" is less related to the utility of the finished product, how it is viewed or used by others, as to its harmony with the impulses and visions which "spired" it into being to begin with.
So, we may accurately say that creativity is aimed at a goal, that the process moves toward some final form; but in reality, at least for one creating, "it's all in the process" with little attention given to its completed shape. We might correctly note that the "reward" of creation is inherent in the process of creating. It is "nice" for the creator, even socially essential at times, that artistic efforts be accepted by others when they are an artist's source of livelihood in the world. Then, money, for example, or social status as a tool for making money, is an additional reward; still, for true creativity, the grander "reward" is in the events of creating--no matter what the final product may be. What matters most is not "what will they pay?," or "what do they think of it?," but how pleasing is it to me? How well does "it"--the action or object, conform to what I had in mind as I "labored (played?)" in the process of its creation? Is it me--or is it fake--that is, dishonest.
Imaging is the most primal form of creativity--the first stage in a process which moves from mind to world, from inside experience to outside forms.
Idols or icons (synonyms) represent the first stage of repression, the death knell of creativity; when we transform natural images into contrived idols, we stop the independent creative process and initiate dependency on our own illusions.
Imaging is an on-going process of creating mental forms out of sense experience. An image is a perception shaped into a "holdable" form, subject to being re-membered (re-called-to-mind) and/or utilized as a tool for moving to the next stage of human creativity. For example, infants, in the first few days of life (less than 10, we are now told), form images from perceptions of mother's face, which are thereafter used for maintaining connections with their primary source of power (food, comfort) in the world.
Imaging is both literal and metaphorical. Literally, it refers to a creation from the sense of vision. An image (like a photograph) is a visual picture held, as it were, in the mind's eye. The creation occurs when a perception made by scanning eyes of the head is transformed into a retainable "picture" for holding in the "eyes" of mind.
Imaging becomes a metaphor when used to represent the same process of perceiving with the other 4 major senses. For example, the senses of smell and hearing are even more primal than sight. Infants smell and hear before their eyes become open and receptive to visual stimuli. Perceptions by other senses also become "holdable" even as do sights by eyes. Smells (odors), e.g., are probably created into memories before sights.
If we spoke only literally, we might refer to "smellages" (of the nose) in distinction from "images" of the eye; or "soundages" for sounds transformed into re-callable "shapes (another visual metaphor)." Without metaphors we would need separate words for creating with each of our 5 senses. But when imaging is understood in both its literal and metaphorical senses, it can be useful in representing all five in a single word.
Perhaps imaging came to first be literal and then used as a metaphor because sight is indeed our more comprehensive and far-reaching sense, offering a first warning about impending dangers. Also, perhaps for the same reason, our language is based more on sight than any other sense. We have, e.g., innumerable words to represent our various sight registrations, but relatively few for smell and sound perceptions, which may in fact be even more diverse than those of sight (e.g., musical variations).
Furthermore, because conscious memories are much easier to maintain when associated with words also held in consciousness, it may be that sight "images" simply have greater odds of successful retention in mind space.
However it has happened, imaging is now our primary name for creations made from perceptions by each of our five senses. Imaging includes or represents "smellaging," "hearaging," "touchaging," "tastaging," along with "seeaging." The secondary metaphor, "mind's eye," created in language for explaining where a visual image might be "held" is also used for locating "images" from the other senses. Otherwise we would need a "nose's nose" and an "ear's ear," etc., for locating creations made from other senses.
Summary: Imaging is used here to represent creations (transformations of flowing perceptions into "holdable" forms) first in a literal sense, for "pictures" or eye-based "holdings," but then metaphorically for retentions of each of our other four senses. Otherwise we would also need words like "smellaging," etc. Also, the secondary visual metaphor, "mind's eye," for "where" images are held, stands for other imaginary "places" which would otherwise require "nose's nose" for "holding" smell memories (nose images), etc.
practice, such distinctions between the five senses are probably all theoretical only--that is, an infant's overall perceptions are likely to
be an indistinguishable combination of two or more senses (e.g., smell and sound),
resulting in "held" creations which are likewise complex combinations. And so
with adults. Probably most such divisions are either in hindsight or else in our
"mind's eye" only. Nevertheless, for purposes of understanding, these
distinctions can be useful.
Ideally, imaging (in all its forms) involves realistic shapes in accord with actual, literal perceptions. Powers, for example, are realistically perceived. An infant's images of mother, e.g., are realistically fitted to her actual presented powers (for making food, protection, comfort, etc.). But when these powers are withheld, a creative infant adapts quickly to its changing perceptions. A previously positive or "good" mother, for example, speedily becomes imaged as a negative or "bad" one when she withholds her resources. When words become available, such an accurately creative child might say in the next breath, "I hate you; I wish you were dead." As yet, I theorize, no idolatry has occurred.
In like manner, each new set of perceptions in each next moment, is creatively merged with older ones, in a process later to be called "making sense," or "learning from experience." A naturally creative child (or person) is continually perceiving, creating images (from all five senses), and forming whole, harmonious "knowings" from his primal creations. As such, he is being creative. This simple example becomes a prototype for creative living, as possible for adults as well as infants.
To live well, creatively is to never stray from this natural path of human experience. This, in Natural Theology, is the "way" to heaven on earth, the "kingdom of God" in the here and now.
But in the midst of natural creativity, as evidenced in small children, there is an ever present temptation to escape the challenges of continued creativity via the psychic process of repression/projection--that is, making icons of our images and then looking to them to provide for us what we have suppressed within ourselves--in largest perspective, our inherited capacities for creativity.
An icon or idol is a frozen and blindly empowered image. I titled this essay Imaging And Idols (a participle and a noun) to set the stage for noting this distinction. Although we may usefully make a comparable noun (image) to match idol, in practice the first mode-of-being is literally on-going, always in flux rather than frozen, as implied in participles but often lost in solidified nouns.
This first stage of creativity, imaging, is never literally stopped, except by repression (and death). Still, we need a noun (name) to represent segments of the on-going process--such as, formed visions, distinct odors, or "held" sounds (e.g., mother's coos, or later, songs). Hence images for "held" segments of ever-lively imaging. These contained images may also be called memories or re-callable forms of various perceptions.
As noted before, mind or mind's eye may be useful metaphors for "placing" such memories, whether of sight, smell, or sound. Since "everything's gotta be somewhere"--at least in space/time based thought, memories are no different from trees, chairs, etc., in this regard. But for clarity of understanding, the metaphorical nature of these terms must not be forgotten. Mind and mind's eye are, insofar as we can yet tell, no different than nose's nose or ear's ear (for placing smells and sounds). Perhaps identifying mind with brain (or some part of it), or mind's eye in one's head comes closer to literal facts; but the true nature of "where" memories are "stored"--if at all, yet remains elusive to science. Maybe remembered smells, e.g., are "held" in the nose's nose, as are visions in mind's eye, or at least in those portions of the brain connected to the various sense organs.
Or maybe the whole body is the repository of held images; perhaps we do "know in our bones" as well as limbs and torso what we experience first with our senses. Or, as Sheldrake and others have speculated, it may be that memories are kept outside our bodies--in auras or beyond "in the atmosphere." Or perhaps the entire notion of placing images is a product of our language structure based on concepts of time/space, and is irrelevant in natural reality.
In either case, whether sites for images are all metaphorical rather than literal, the idea of making a noun for thought purposes (or writing) can be useful if not pressed too far. The only point here is understanding the fact of hold-ability of images (regardless of where), the re-memorability of earlier forms of imaging, re-call possibility of perceptions transformed into images.
Seeing "hold-ability" in its natural "level plane" nature--that is, as an un-elevated or lowered memory which only holds perceived powers (e.g., mother's breast/milk), is necessary for distinguishing natural images from supernatural icons.
Idolatry is the process of transforming real images into unrealistic idols. Creatively shaped perceptions are both frozen (as in imaging) and endowed, as though by magic, with powers they do not inherently possess. Forces which are literally within a creating person are repressed and projected onto a blindly chosen image-turned-icon. Literally, such an idol is more like an unrecognized mirror which can only reflect back what has been first focused on it, than a truly objective power; but by nature of the psychic process which allows for idols, such mirroring is always unconscious--that is, invisible to one who represses and projects.
Even so, in this common perversion of creativity, the assumption of unnatural, even super-human powers in an icon might as well be real, since life thereafter is lived as though it were true. Both internal dis-empowerment (initiated by repression) and external empowerment (assumed in projection) are taken to be "just the way things are." Any observant outsider may clearly see through both the illusions of personal impotence (or reduced powers), as well as the clay feet of gods; but these observations remain hidden to those who cease creativity in favor of adoration--that is, transforming their images into icons.
We knock upon silence for an answering music. A Chinese Poet
I borrow a title again, this time from Rollo May. It is appropriate that I do, to remind me that we humans are limited to an assimilated kind of creativity. We borrow from one another, building on the work of others--putting together in our awn unique way--but always out of what is given to us, To be strictly accurate, we are channels rather than creators. God creates; we but reveal his creation.
If we will.
I say "if" because channeling his creation is a possibility, not a necessity. We may or may not let him be known through us. Like clogged pipes, we may prevent the flow of creation. I may stop the continuing miracle within me.
But I hope not. I want to create as he gives me cause to do so. I want to take every precious element of input into my life, assimilate it as fully as I can, and then, as my courage allows, mold my experience into the unique form which it must inevitably take. I would not escape my sameness into a contrived novelty--being different for the sake of being different--but neither would I shun adding my own flavor to our common lot.
Nor would I have you do so. Come Sunday and let me face you with the damning (literally) option of being a clogged pipe or the eternal possibility of continuing God's ' creation through you. I will explore the meaning-of being creative, some of its dangerous perversions, and creative challenges to be faced In living a creative life. In particular, I will call on you to muster the Courage to Create.
I didn't finish. There I was, right in the middle of a sermon when the clock struck 12. So I stopped--temporarily. I hope I get to continue this Sunday.
Last week I said: God is creating, literally--that is, he is not a creator, either in the deistic or theistic sense, Creating is who he is. And we, if we assume our rightful places, become both an expression and instrument of his continuing creation, We become creative.
In contrast with trying to appear static, arrived, and permanent (always the same), or trying to assume the place of God, In being creative we risk changing, constantly, and we don't escape into a neurotic type of creativity which is but a thin veil for false-godhood, In this type of creating we become our fuller selves rather than pretend or strive for immortality.
The issue is so serious, I believe, that I say: not to create is not to be. And who can afford that?
I went on to give examples and consider the nature of creativity, but 12 o'clock caught me before I could preach about practice. So this week I want to consider the two types of courage required to create: Negative nerve--the courage to stop doing things which prevent creativity, such as, improving yourself, improving people, trying to be perfect, helping somebody, or trying to make the world a better place to live.
And positive nerve--the courage to face the empty paper with pen in hand, the Empty canvas with paints open, the world without your judgments, a person without a script, God without theology, Some call it-faith.
Wendy and David danced gracefully at church last Sunday. Ila played the piano with her usual grace and charm. Certainly Gayle's slides revealed his consummate grace with the camera. Perhaps my words came to you with a degree of grace also. I hope that all combined to allow you to experience the grace of God in those moments together.
Without it life leaves much to be desired.
But what is this elusive quality or experience we call grace? We know it when we see it, miss it when we don't, and, I think, search for it in the deeper levels of our hearts. Somehow we know that living without grace is merely existing but existing with grace is really living.
Lofton Hudson reminded us in a book that "Grace is Not A Blue-eyed Blond." Except some of us know he was wrong, because sometimes she is. Not always, of course, but some certain very nice times. And all of us know that grace, like blond, can be faked. In the lessor skills--like dancing, piano playing, photography, and preaching--one may learn to appear graceful, to put on a good show which deceives the uninitiated and sometimes even the performer. But appearing graceful and being full of grace are not necessarily the same.
Graceful living is no performance. Such an event, when it occurs, is never the result of practice and skill only. Always it begins, finds its substance, and culminates in the grace of God. Paul said it straight: "For by grace are ye saved." only when we have experienced that grace, and continue to do so moment by moment, do we face the delightful possibility of living gracefully.
He laughed at me
for "being creative."
Back when I thought I was
I didn't get the joke.
Those of us who attempt to do things in new ways face a unique variety of the common sin. We often succumb to the notion of being creative. That is to say: playing god. And with this version of the fall come the familiar signs of pride, paranoia, and defensiveness ("look what I've made," "why is everyone against me," and "Just wait, I'll show em who's right").
It's understandable though. Putting things together in novel ways does look a lot like creation. Speaking in unfamiliar tongues can easily pass for making a new language. Looking unusual often seems like being first.
Many of us didn't read Ecclesiastes and learn that "there's nothing new under the sun," or study Latin and learn that only God can creatio ex nihilo. So when we see that what we've done is different, we easily conclude that we made it.
A novel form. But the same old fall.
Which is not to say that we humans can't fashion the given in unique forms--put it together with a personal touch, sing our own stanza of the timeless song, dance our own step to the ageless music. We can. And we're called to. To synthesize, that is. To create grace-full-ly, but not pridefully.
"Creating" is literally assembling. There is nothing new under the sun. Creating is self-making in its purest form; that is, giving shape form to selfing--the on going process, bring experience (self/world encounters) to consciousness, knowing what you know (moving to the highest level of knowing. It may be mental (true beliefs are the verbal shape of knowing) or physical (sculpture, painting, etc.)
I am moving closer to more concerted mental creativity, on my own, to doing for myself what I have previously only been able to do Afor others," as in preaching, counseling, etc. I still resist, I think because of these two major factors: the unknown, and opening myself to the past, including my main denials. The first, the unknown, I see is essential to creating--that is, pulling elements of experience together in the current moment requires standing with waiting-to-see what will emerge. This means leaving the security of what I know, the pinned down, now dead experience which has been symbolized in my mind, in favor of the fresh and new which is just now emerging. Ack! The unknown; which takes faith.
The second threatening element, the past, is not so much what has been--the literal past, as it is the habits of denial which I established in the past; most specifically, embodiment and sexuality. I see now that the true powers which creativity requires are rooted in genetics, in body--with its various drives and wants, and in sexuality--with its diverse components. These two, in consort, are at the heart of what I most consistently learned to deny in early life; specifically, in trying to not be selfish and sexy, to be unselfish and mostly unsexual. I learned well to suppress my awareness of each much of the time; fortunately I never succeeded in negating either.
Now the challenge in becoming regularly creative means unlearning these ingrained habits of denying awareness of bodily desires, especially sexual urges, since I recognize these as prime sources of power and direction for the wonderful events of creating in the unknown present.
I am also seeing that passionate living, literally passion itself, is intimately connected with creativity. I suspect that they are synonymous, that to be passionate is to be creative and creating, to be flying by the seat of my pants, making up reality as I go along out of the data of experience and present concepting. I have just finished creating a waterfall and pond in the back yard. This physical creating, making it up as I go along--with minimal plans, seems very much like mental creating, what I do with my theology, except with hands rather than mind only.
Bitching about not having the right tools
and other illusions of perfection
Is certainly easier than mustering the nerve
to create well with those I have
Since God is Creating
and Permanence is an illusion
strive to be changing creatively
especially while acting consistent
I am most knowledgeable of the errors of sons and daughters who sacrifice, I think, balls and brains in quest of survival in family. I turn now to speculate on the errors of parents, mothers and fathers, how they learn to survive in the same context. I think that these errors I note probably began historically somewhere between 5000 and 2000 BC, when the Great Mother Goddess was being undermined by emerging masculine dominance. Mythology, which originally centered on the Magna Mater, gradually shifted to the Mighty Zeus, etc., and finally culminated in the Jewish/Christian/Islam religions where God was assumed to be male, with females relatively excluded.
In the Gaea and Uranus myths, for examples, the secondary Uranus (husband), where son Chronos still had his balls, was castrated by his son under mother's direction. This reflected what must have occurred in the earlier times when father's role was unrecognized. But with the rise of warring males in groups, somewhere between 3000 and 2000 BC, the rebellion of fathers against being secondary to mothers began in earnest. The thrust of this historical attempt at male freedom from female dominance was to simply reverse the order--for masculinity to attempt by shear force and brute strength, plus conscious dominance of mind (as consciousness was beginning to emerge more fully by this time) to overcome female ascendency. They tried, in effect, to merely rape the Queen and claim the throne for themselves alone, rather than learning to wisely co-operate with her.
Instead of more wisely learning to confront the true state of the power imbalance between the genders, males began to simply rebel and assume ascendence in the only ways granted by our natural powers, namely overt control of body and society, as reflected in the three religions which have survived since those earlier times. The current state, which is fortunately eroding rapidly just now, namely, of male superiority and dominance in family, business, politics, etc., reflects the process of this early approach to resolving the issue of how to live together in families and communities in close proximity of genders.
More specifically, these socio/religious changes reflected in such patterns as continued male denial of the power imbalance in his/our awareness. We learned to identify ourselves consciously with the male god idea, that is, with the out front leader/dominant husband, cloaking the actual fragile nature of this position. Current awareness, especially by females of the Afragile male ego," reflects this shaky position of masculinity in today's world. Males have wrested outward forms of power, as in business and politics, but have yet to face consciously, in mass, the truth of the saying that Athe hand that rocks the cradle is the one that rules the world," that is, in reality, Magna Mater still reigns supreme even though from Abehind the throne."
Macho maleness, that currently dying breed of men, kept its balls by hiding--pretending, mostly to itself to be all-powerful, while carefully avoiding the kinds of intimacy with females which would have revealed the true state of power matters which has not yet changed from the beginning except in outward stances. In other words, modern day Uranuses kept their physical balls only by abusive suppression of femininity in arenas where brute physical and carefully protected mental strengths focused in logic only could prevail. This stance, in order to succeed, was predicated on lack of cross-gender intimacy and male separation from our deeper selves--where the truths reflected in ancient mythologies still remained hidden.
What females today have named with Afragile ego," when they consciously confront male weakness, is more literally a fragile self, that is, masculine selfhood largely cut off from its deeper roots in this historical stance of outward domination. Men have had to remain out of contact with our true selves, else we would have had to deal with the error of our ways, our reverse domination of females which was never possible except in shallow outward social stances. Such men today must act strong to cloak, mostly to themselves, the true inner weaknesses as well as the feminine components evolving from our own single X chromosomes--our own female shadows.
Since I personally have not followed this path, given my own early home situation in which mother power was obvious and my father was never macho for my example or training, but have largely followed the suffering son, Attis and Jesus, modes of survival, I only see this more typical father course "out there." I do think, however, that my objectivity to this more common male course of evolvement allows me to probably see it more clearly and easily, especially given my own envy at times of the limited advantages which it accrues to such macho males.
Now to the errors of the Magna Mater. Historically as well as currently, she too has erred in her resolutions to the family dilemma. The pre-1000 BC errors set the historical stage for those which continue to the present. Her earlier errors were reflected in the myths themselves, for instance, in Gaea's use of her son Chronos to castrate her husband. Why was she so unwise as to emasculate her own husband? Obviously the male threat was already apparent to her? Was this the beginning of the masculine revolt? In either case, I think that Gaea's action against her husband in favor of complicity with her son must reflect the beginning of the female errors which I will now try to guess about. Even before the male revolt she, barring her own errors, would have mediated the classic family power dilemma without such dumb actions. These must have been forerunner's of those which eventually resulted in her removal from outward thrones.
More wisely She would never have allowed herself to be done in by aggressive masculinity. It could not have happened, I surmise, without her complicity. Masculinity lacks the actual power to dominate femininity in any overall way, apart from physical circumstances only, without her participation in the displacement of powers. What has she done to lose her historical ascendency? What is the error of the Great Mother? How has she participated in her outward displacement from social/religious/economic structures?
I theorize that these are the elements of her errors. First, I think she must have begun to deny her own killer capacities, the innate female ability to, for example, kill off her own weaker offspring in times of limited resources, or to destroy her male consorts, as did Gaea and other early mythological figures who probably reflected what early females themselves were able to do. The use of Gaea's son for the bloody act must reflect the beginning of this denial of personal capacities. I imagine that the easier feminine capacities for softness in "mothering" were exaggerated as those for firm destruction when feasible were gradually denied. Hence the turning to her son for "help."
This denial could have allowed early dominant female rulers to be unprepared for aggressive male invaders. If they had begun to deny their own kill-capacities, they might well have been unprepared, army-wise, for aggressive males who were "unencumbered" with soft mothering capacities also. More easily, given their lack of tenderness capacities, males could ruthlessly overrun feminine powers, especially if these early females where in any denial of their own greater killer capacities.
Secondly, I speculate that genetic female wisdom, that vast reservoir of inherited knowledge, symbolized in early mythology by the serpent, one who was throughly grounded in every aspect of itself, did not adapt to emerging human consciousness. If consciousness only began to emerge some 10,000 years ago, as some figure, then feminine, serpent-like, wisdom would have been well ingrained by this time. Females would not have needed the fragile powers of conscious thought in order to continue their ruling skills. Males, on the other hand, lacking somewhat in deeper nonscious feminine wisdom, may have smartly learned to capitalize on emerging consciousness which was particularly useful in the focused requirements of hunting game and warring, in contrast with the larger wisdom required for ruling.
This emerging left brain type thinking was probably less needed by females, as continues to be so today, when they remain in established roles. But the early error may have been to not take advantage of their own emerging capacities for consciousness and to continue to rely on deeper nonscious knowledge only. I think that today, still, females in general remain more in contact with nonscious wisdom and only turn to conscious thinking in relative emergencies, while males, fearing the depths of their own nonscious selves, exaggerate and major on conscious knowledge only.
The problem may have arisen in the fact that conscious knowledge is more effective in outward manipulation, even if it is severely limited in hearted relating. Females erred, I speculate, in not continuing to evolve further into consciousness, taking the easier route of relying on their older inherited wisdom only--the knowledge of the snake vs. the learning of the "mind." As, I think, they still do today.
The third major error I see in the female loss of position in the outward world may have come about through the conscious denial of their own sexuality. Relational knowledge--how to cooperate and get along with others, must have come so easy for her that she could easily ignore the enormous amount of her power which was rooted in expansive sexual capacities. I believe that inherently female sexuality is, even as female brain power, greater in scope and measure than is that of males. The nature of intercourse and the genetic facts of massive amounts of sperm available for very limited ova make overt male sexuality and covert female sexuality natural and reasonable. But what got lost in these obvious facts was, I speculate, female consciousness about the true nature of her own sexuality.
Her larger denials of consciousness in general, her continued reliance on nonscious knowledge, must have spilled over into sexual denials also. She could certainly "get more than she wanted" without conscious planning, unlike the situation for males; so why do it? Why not continue to rely on nonscious evolution only for the limited number of sperm required for replicating her genes?
I speculate that early on, the pattern of sexual denial (in consciousness) must have started in female history. While the process of species continuation was not hindered by this denial, I think that the effectiveness of actual female powers was unwittingly diminished. Instead of continuing to use as well as enjoy their enormous sexual capacities, females, I surmise, may have erred in cutting themselves off, in awareness, from this additional source of power needed for successful social management. Today, for example, instead of wisely using her sexual capacities positively in the workplace, she mainly becomes aware in events of abuse or harassment, where she yet portrays herself as totally "innocent."
In summary, my current hazy thinking about the larger errors of parents, that is, of fathers and mothers, is this: men have erred not so much from castration, as have we who took the "good son's" path, as from cutting themselves off from deeper awareness of weakness as well as feminine-identified capacities (emotional depth), and identifying themselves with macho images of actual superiority. In addition they have over identified themselves with emerging consciousness, "reason-ability," and left themselves out of touch with all the deeper powers of nonscious humanity.
Women, mothers, have erred in three major ways I can now discern: loss of contact with kill-ability (destroy-capacities in consort with nurture-capacities); refusal to expand their identification of themselves with their own younger left brains as well as older right brains, with consciousness as well as nonscious wisdom; and three, their severing of themselves from their conscious sexuality.
We sons and daughters, who merely lose our balls and brains, may it turns out, have made the lessor mistakes. Men who face the challenge of confronting the limitations of machoism--cutoffness from depths, including male limitations and female shadows also, and women who have become 'nice and polite," "sugar and spice" only, with no connection with their capacities for destruction, yet to identify with consciousness, plus being cut off from the enormous powers of their own sexuality--these may be the greater errors.
If males have erred, overall, in refusing to confront the larger powers of femininity directly and honestly, choosing instead overt domination and emotional distance, females in complicity have erred in their own forms of denial of personal capacities. Result: male under-kill and female over-kill. Males possessed by "fragile egos" and out of touch with our own real vulnerabilities as well as true masculine strengths, have left ourselves open to easily becoming "hen-pecked," wimps in Superman suits, that is, we have under-confronted femininity, settling for trying to "keep her in her place" or secure her favor, rather than more wisely living with her larger powers.
Females, out of conscious contact and control of their actual powers of mind as well as body, especially their reason-abilities and sexuality, have unwittingly participated in systematic over-kill of males, especially those they claim to love. In complicity, over-vulnerable fathers and under-conscious mothers have tried to do each other in, following the murders of portions of their own real capacities. We have remained in the historical and proverbial "battle of the sexes," rather than daring to embrace our own capacities which might open the door to learning to love rather than use each other only.
Before the kingdom of God/Goddess on earth can come, I surmise, men as grown boys must get not only our balls back, but also our hearts and deeper minds. Girls now grown into genetic women must reclaim their brains--not only the wisdom of the serpent but especially the powers of their true reason-abilities for conscious experience, including their own wondrous sexuality.
Then, perhaps, and only then I conclude, might we stop the battle and come to love really.
All dimensions of lifeC from thinking to doing, from deciding to acting, are potentially creative. We more easily recognize creativity in things done or made, such as, paintings or sculpture, but the more common arenas for creativity begin and often end in the mind, never appearing as objects on the stages of life.
Deciding, I think, "making up your mind," is both the most pervasive and difficult of all the arenas in which we may be creative. Certainly it is the most consistently ever-present arena. We may occasionally make up objects, but we regularly face the option of making up our minds. Like it or not, choose it or not, the necessity of deciding is continually before us.
How shall we decide? How are we to "make up our minds"? How can we "know what to do"? Faced with ever-present choices, how are we to proceed wisely, advancing our selves rather than dumbly, at cost of pain rather than pleasure? Imaging, Stage Two of the Creative Process, is probably the most common answer. Images, bearing the weight of our projected powers generated through Stage One perceptions, become the first and most lasting source of irresponsible decisions. They become the recipients both of our power to move and of our power to decide. They "move us," or so it seems, as well as "make us" do what we do. They in effect decide for us. It is as though I have no power or even option of choice at Stage Two. The image does it all for or to me.
Just as the ghost (image of my fear) "scares me" and "makes me run and hide," so the pretty girl (image of my lust) "turns me on" and "makes me feel excited." And in all the more regularly present arenas of my lifeC with my gods and demons, friends and enemies, tastes and habits, the same situation prevails; my icons relieve me of the necessity of "making up my own mind." They do it for me. Or so it seems.
And should my idols ever fail to move me, which of course they seldom do, then society and the law, other less evident images, are always there to take up the slack. What I should do, what "they want me to do," what pleases others, "what they think,"-- all these voices of society and religion are ever-present in the wings of my mind to tell me what to do in the absence of an obvious icon, thereby evading the challenges of a personal decision. Of profoundly, creatively, "making up my own mind."
The creative decision, the culmination of the Creative Process, is, I conclude, the most significant and challenging event in human life. Heroic deeds require courage, but heroic decisions, which always lie hidden at their base, are even more demanding.
But how can we distinguish between an ordinary image-powered movement which seems like a decision, since no one physically makes us react, and a creative decision in which we literally Amake up our own minds"? What, that is, is a creative decision? What is the difference between "being good" by social or legal or religious standards (images) and being good by the standards of creative decision making?
I begin with what it's not, which is easier to word; a creative decision is not dictated from without, outside of ones self. It is not made by an image; the power of the movement which follows does not come any external source. Neither society nor religion, what is legal or good by outside standards, what another specific person wants or "what they think" in general, are the prime movers. Any or all of these may be taken into account in a creative decision, but none of them are the final source of the choice. "They"-- whom or whatever they may be, do not decide for us; the creative decision is never determined externally. Neither the ghosts or gods, ugly gremlins or pretty girls, "make us" do whatever we do following a creative decision.
Nor is such an awesome act determined by inside powers which reside outside the fragile boundaries of consciousnessCsuch as, habits, patterns, repressed memories, or other non-scious structures not genetically rooted. There is no ritual or pre-determined source beyond awareness which "gets the credit" or blame for a creative decision. "The devil didn't make me do it"; nor did habit or other unconscious motivations. "The way I did it before"-- that is, learned ways or patterns of response in previous situations are never the determining forces in creative decisions. Like social, legal, and religious shoulds, prior learning or experience in The School Of Hard Knocks will commonly be taken into account; butCand this is the critical point, neither outside nor inside powers which exist beyond the pale of awareness are what moves us to action following creative decisions.
What then are they? If such choices are not determined by images without or within, where does their source lie? From what are they made? What is the "stuff," the substance of creative decisions?
First and foremost is genetic wisdom, the en-gened knowledge of eons of evolution written into the genetic codes of DNA in each of our 50,000 million cells. Genetic wisdom is all that we "have learned to do without thinking." It includes all the "know how" encoded in bodyChow to breath, circulate blood, suck, digest food, urinate, defecate, fight diseases and other intrusive forces, heal wounds, find girls/boys, have sex, make babies, and in general, to survive and reproduce ourselves.
All this "knowledge we are born with," when considered at all, is commonly summarized with such bland names as: instincts, drives, urges, inclinations, and wants. Most of it (rooted in 44 of the 46 chromosomes in each cell) is so thoroughly ingrained that it seldom reaches the borders of consciousness. All these "life forces" evolved to ensure survival or "staying alive," operate, as it were, on "automatic pilot." They seem to "just happen." For instance, no one teaches us how to breath and suck, pee and shit, circulate blood or resist diseases. Furthermore, they go on "on their own," that is, without any conscious thought or sense of self.
The wealth of this genetic wisdom evolved into our DNA over some 3.5 billion years is sufficient to keep us alive and making babies quite efficiently, were it not for social rules, for a life time, without ever activating the fragile, Johnny-come-lately, capacity for consciousness. Just "doing what comes naturally" will get us from cradle to grave with reasonable efficiencyC all this without ever "having to think" in the creative sense of the phrase. But, because we have come out of the jungle and do all now live in large and extended social groups, more is required for truly creative living.
We do, literally, need to think about it more now than ever before in the long turns of human history. The problem is, how do we "think about" what works so well "on its own" without any thought at all? How do we, that is, become conscious of the "genetic wisdom" which, encoded as an "automatic pilot," resides and functions well in the unseen realms of nonsciousness?
Desire, I think, "what we want to do," becomes our best bridge between the dark power-filled realms of en-gened bodily knowledge and the lighter, more fragile yet essential domains of consciousness, of self, of knowing-what-we-know. When primal instincts and capacities need the newer activities of hand and mind for acquiring what is necessary for their existence, want is their primary voice. They 'speak to us," as it were, through the languages of desire. 'Speak to us" is a useful metaphor for understanding this medium of communication between nonsciousness and consciousness; yet is dangerous, even disastrous in time, if taken literally.
It is here that the spirit-killing split between body and mind must begin. This creation in awareness of the image of 'they" who speak, distinguished from "I" who hear, must be the genesis of the Platonic division of humankind into body and self (or soul or mind). The useful metaphor in accurately conceiving the experience of "knowing what I want," of how genetic needs make contact with consciousness through desire, becomes lethal when taken to be real. In reality there is no 'they" (genetic forces) which exist apart from "I" who may entertain them (or worse, not entertain them) in awareness. Literally, "they" are 'I"-- at least an essential element in my larger self.
I do not exist, in reality, as an entity apart from "them" (my dark genes for survival and reproduction). I, in reality, outside the Enchanted Forest where Images reign supreme, am my genetic wisdom, my instincts mediated to awareness through "want." I, if I mature in the Creative Process, moving past Stage Two images only, become more than instincts and primal desires alone; but, and this is the crucial point, I never become other than them. Genetic wisdom (the dark, ingrained "knowledge" of eons of time) remains the major and crucial source of all that I may become through the Creative Process.
But back to the metaphor: "They speak to me." Insofar as consciousness is concerned, this tiny but critically important apex of evolution so far, all the vast libraries of encoded powers with which 'I" as a cut off entity come with, are mediated to awareness primarily through desire. I, metaphorically speaking, know what they need, through attention to desiresC "what I want to do," "what I feel like doing," what I am inclined toward."
In the fuller aspects of a creative decision, to be considered next, the most primary substance, the essential "stuff" of which such choices are made, is wants, the primal voices of genetic wisdom arising into conscious mind space.
Personal experience is the second main source of material for a creative decision. What has happened before in similar situations? Did it taste good the last time? Did I enjoy the experience, or did I feel more pain than pleasure? Did the event satisfy me previously? Did it accomplish my goals at the time? However memory works, humans are gifted with an immense capacity for remembering what happened before, for holding previous perceptions which are in any way related to the present event in mind space. We need not be hurt but once, or "hit our head against a stone wall" repeatedly. Prior "learning" is ever-present. In varying degrees we have all been to The School of Hard Knocks, that is, learned much on our own; all this wealth of remembered prior experience, varying all the way from single sense encounters, such as, a sight, sound, smell or taste, to complex relational events, like meeting an exciting person or being physically or emotionally abused.
All this, plus much more is somehow "stored in the recesses of the mind" (or otherwise kept available in the present) for structuring, guiding, and informing us about what-to-do (how to decide) in each present time of decision. Always the past is in the background of every present time for us humans gifted with an enlarged brain.
But we cannot leave personal experience remembered without also considering its counterpart: personal experience forgotten. Just as the big brain allows us to recall, so it lets us forget; we can hold experience in conscious mind space, on the back stages of the mind, or we can banish it from the whole theater area. We can, as psychology notes, "repress memories," or deal with experience either by holding it fondly in awareness (or close by) or by repressing it into the "unconscious mind" where it is no longer immediately available for recall when needed.
This human capacity to repress memories, which must always be useful at the time when what is happening seems too difficult to deal with just then, turns out in time to be one of the most destructive of our mental habits when we come to making creative decisions in the present. To be truly creative to the fuller extent of our capacities, we need all our prior experience as material for present choices, not just that which was easy to remember. We need our Aunconscious minds" as well as our easily held memories. We need to recall the "bad things" as well as the good, the painful times as well as the pleasant events, because truly creative decisions are based on all that we are (the sum total of prior experiences), not just what we have seen "through rose colored glasses."
We can never be any more creative in the present than we are open to all of our pasts. Much repression (which may have preserved us relatively intact at the time) results in non-creative decisions in the present. The more courageous we have been in "facing our pasts," that is, in daring to bring our difficult or painful memories out of the closet of unconsciousness and into the present light, the more creatively we can decide today.
The wealth of all prior experienceCgood and bad, pleasant and painful, happy and sad, respectful and shamefulCis the second major source of "stuff" needed for creative living in the present. To the extent that we fail to face and hold all that has happened in our pasts in the wings of the stages of our conscious minds, to that same degree we are hindered in creative decisions just now. As difficult as it may seem, we need "all that we know," every bit of data from our long matriculation in the proverbial School of Hard Knocks, if we are to decide and thereby live creatively in the present.
Seeing repression in its negative forms, such as, "forgetting" difficult times of abuse or sexual trauma, is often easy to understand; but repression of excitement and pleasure which may have seemed difficult to assimilate at the time may be even more destructive in the long term insofar as creative decisions are concerned. Standing "feeling too good" and remaining conscious is, paradoxically, often harder than staying aware with "feeling bad or shameful." Repressions of the capacity for pleasure may be even more common in our society than are the more familiar denials of painful times. In either case, creative decisions now call for the fullest possible recollections of both pleasures and pains which may have been denied for pragmatic reasons in the past. We need to be fully present, with our minds as open as possible to all of the past, if we are to make creative decisions in the moment.
Creativity, existence at Stage Four of the Creative Process, is commonly recognized by the products, expressions, or external signs of itself. A novel painting, for example, an expression of an apparently creative artist, is taken at face value to be creative. An artful decision, as in my present illustration of Stage Four activity, will be assumed to come from a person at this stage of the Creative Process.
But not necessarily so. Certainly novel "creations," deeds, and decisions will most often result from one being at Stage Four, yet the connection is not inevitable. I have already noted that one can be creative (at Stage Four) and not do anything viewed by others as creative, that is, exist in a creative state of being without any outward expression or sign; now I want to go further in distinguishing between such being at Stage Four and any of the expressions (e.g., paintings or deeds) which are commonly assumed to reflect it.
Many apparently creative acts (or things made) are done by persons still possessed at Stage Two, Imaging, of the process. Whereas the paintings, e.g., seem to be creative, the painter may in fact not be creative. He may simply be giving expression to, or reproducing, various images which appear to him in his relatively unconscious states of existence (as is characteristic of Stage Two). In fact, many of those considered by society to be most creative, often producing prodigious amounts of "art," are existing far from Stage Four of the process; they are simply pawns of "their muses," forming or acting-out the shapes of the images which possess them. Their works may indeed be novel and hence considered creative; yet the artists themselves may be far from existence at Stage Four. Indeed, by social standards, many of them may be labeled as pathological or socially maladjusted.
True existence at Stage Four involves fullest consciousness, whether or not this inward state of existence is revealed in outward forms, acts, or decisions. Certainly the images which reflected or contained the personal powers of the individual at Stage Two, or the concepts which were held by one at Stage Three, may still be present; yet at Stage Four they are absorbed into the being of the individual. They have become present in his or her conscious self. The Stage Four creative person is neither possessed by images nor in possession of "his" concepts; he has become them both to such an extent that "they" are now "I," that is, live in conscious awareness.
From this present consciousness, prior images and concepts may indeed (and most often are) given form and substance in outside objects, deeds, and decisions. But shaped thusly, they are consciously formed; the artist is the creator, not the victim or pawn of so-called "creative forces" which are at work "in him." He is not driven; he does not "have to create" to gain relief from the demands of his images. He creates because he is being creative, that is, because he consciously exists at Stage Four of the Creative Process.
GENDER AND CREATIVE PROCESS
The Creative Process is about pre and post gendered personhood, what it means to "be oneself" below the level of sexual differences. Gender, like all else, is reflected and involved in the Creative Process, but is not the primary substance of it. The Creative Process is primarily about the 44 chromosomes which existed before X & Y, the Johnny Come Latelys on the genetic scene, were even evolved.
The Creative Process
from ignorance (ignoring knowledge)
to smarts (having knowledge)
to wisdom (being knowing)
From no-word to noun
from missing to having to being
From no-word to noun
Being is Creating
Seeing is glimpsing it
Writing is putting it down
Preaching is putting it out
In a creative
expression 's experiences so far
(life, decision, deed, word, or object)
the sum of all one
is given shape.
's experiences so far
Being is formed.
To acknowledge the unknown
is the beginning of wisdom
To confront not-knowing
without abandoning knowledge
is a step in the direction of right
To stand regularly on the growing edge 's backside along the way
where light converges with dark
carrying bits of the former
from the universe of the latter
making what is right
without succumbing to self-righteousness
delighting in making, enjoying the made,
while letting go of all has beens
in quest of might bes
glimpsing, some graced times,
's backside along the way
This, I think, is creating
To be creating is to be mathematical
seeing geometry, exploring algebra and trig,
sines and cosines, weighing statistics,
without ever falling for a moment
into the illusion that numbers are real,
let alone, saving
Putting myself into words
is a useful step toward becoming
my silent self
but a tempting substitute
for being what I know
let alone creatingwho I may become
Is not the same as having thoughts
Anymore than is believing,
in both cases
Is creating, enlivening
though easily confused
with the first,
and, like feces,
If kept too long,
a stench until the death
They both signify
We create a permanent God, don't we,
once and for all
because that's easier than creating ourselves
who, to remain real, must be remade every day
(or would you believe, every instant?)
Self-creating is the most primal and powerful of all genetic instincts, commonly recognized only in its shadow reflection in self-survival. The known urge to stay-alive is but the barest beginning of this larger impulse to be-lively.
We have no more choice about this drive than we do with circulating blood (which is but one small element of self-creating). It comes, we might say, with being; it "just is"--that is, is given; it is initiated at conception, when unique in all the world and in all time, and unlikely to ever be duplicated again, combinations of 23 male chromosomes are united with 23 female chromosomes.
Our choice lies only in whether we embrace response-ability or repress/project response-ability--that is, in whether we self-create by our own initiative or by default, deferring to images out there (other people or images such as, gods, demons, etc.).
The most basic of all human questions is: who will create us? I or they?
God-as-Creator is the grandest form of self-denial. This long popular notion reflects the most complete form of self-repression/projection. With this ancient and ever-new belief, one denies all awareness of self-creativity and only sees its shadow reflected in a heavenly mirror as some personified force named God. Socially threatening aspects of self-creation are further split off and projected onto negative gods, called devils or demons.
Self as a noun, implying a static entity, is a concession to language structures. Literally, there is no such thing as a self, any more than there is of a God. In reality there is only selfing, a participle rather than a noun, implying the continually on-going nature of self-creation. Always, as long as there is breathing, there is self-creating ever-new in every instant. In each second of time, in every inch of place, we are, when not repressing/projecting, creating ourselves anew.
Negatively stated, self-creating is non-stop, never-ending. There is no such thing as a finished product, any more than there was a predictable image or ideal-self at the time of conception. Temporality is the surest earmark of self-creation. Permanence is the least descriptive of all its measures.
The most conscious aspects of self-creation are gender related, because gender (replication by sex vs. cloning) is the latest-to-evolve part of creaturely capacity--the last two of our 46 chromosomes in each cell.
Self-creation is most clearly seen or recognized when formed in external shapes, things in the world beyond one's own skin--such as, writings, art, objects, and deeds. Basically, however, inner-skin selfing is first formed into wanting, feelings, and thinking--that is nonscious self becoming conscious. Most (98%?) Of selfing is nonscious, operative and creating without any personal awareness; it "just is (goes on)" naturally, like heart pumping.
But when this dark 98% phases into the light of awareness, it does so first in desire, then in emotional stirrings, and finally into mental formulations, such as, perceptions, images, and finally ideas. When the skin line is passed, where we are able to distinguish between inner and outer, the same wanting, feelings, and thinking are further shaped into visible-to-others forms, such as, deeds, objects, etc. In reality, however, this distinction between inner and outer creations is artificial or in the mind's eye only. In self-creating the outer forms are but further extensions of the inner forms--that is, for example, a self-creating deed is but another shape of a self-creating desire or thought. Only the form is different; the reality is the same. When I write, for another example, creatingly, I am simply giving outside shape via words-on-paper to inside feelings/thoughts. Others may see them as different, but for me, when I am self-creating, my seeing and my saying are essentially the same stuff--just shaped in the two distinguishable forms of inner and outer.
Likewise with any other self-creating external "object" such as, an art piece, decorated room, or mechanical invention; though formed outside one's skin, each is essentially an aspect of self-creation as surely as is any personal perception or feeling. Only the forms of the selfing are distinguishable. "It (whatever it may be) is literally I," whenever I am nervy enough to be self-creating.
Possessions are the end of self-creation. With creating there is no "mine" because every form of one's creation is temporary, existing-as-self only in the instant (or process) of its creation. Once done "it" is done, and then as an it, it ceases to be I. Whenever I slip into illusions of possession, as thought any it is mine, including those I have created in the past, I have fallen out of self-creation. I can be creating, or I can have creations, either of myself or others, but I cannot truly possess anything without exiting the on-going process of self-creation. As it is with small children who creatively "make something" and then move immediately on to "something else to do," without possessiveness of what they have already made, so with adults who continue in the endless process of self-creation.
Seeing creative is certainly not the same
as being creative, but unless I see what
I am trying to be, the odds of success
decrease often to less than zero,
leaving an automaton
where otherwise a person might be
The traditional male way is 1, 2, 3:
1)repression, 2)projection, 3)sublimation
A wiser road less traveled is:
1)unrepression, 2)generation, 3)channeling
Step 3 in channeling passion is the visible, outside-one's-skin, part of the process. Doing the deed refers to giving external shape to internal passion. It is about the nature of the activity which is channeled rather than sublimated.
The first major distinction between channeling and sublimating is that channeling is consciously done, whereas sublimating is an unconscious or automatic process. In channeling, native sources of passion are unrepressed and therefore conscious. The disconnection between being and doing is in awareness.
Secondly, the deeds of channeling are always hearted--that is, done with might or emotional presence and fervor. The biblical message is lived out: Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might (or "heart").
Thirdly, channeled passion is selfless in the sense that one's whole self is involved, activated in the doing--even when the "doing" is saying only. One is conscious, but not self-conscious. There is no ego involved when passion is channeled rather than sublimated. One must let go of ego, give up on self-as-image to protect or promote before channeling even becomes possible.
One can't be protecting a fragile ego or looking for other-affirmation and channeling passion at the same time. To the degree that ego is involved, channeling is not. One can have a huge ago and sublimate well; in fact, the greater one's ego (and therefore the more fragile) is seen as self, the better sublimator one is likely to be. You may have a self or ego and sublimate, but you can't then be yourself and channel passion.
Definition: Channeling passion is creating in the world, expressing one's inwardness in forms perceivable by others, e.g., verbal or physical--that is, in word, deed, or object. It is "saying" who you are, either literally in words, or figuratively in tangible forms such as objects (art) or actions. This, of course, means: living creatively.
When channeling or being yourself
in forms perceivable to others
one has no self to be
Self is created and exists in such doing
or in contained not-doing
yet not as an entity apart from either
only ego or false-self,
a self-created sense of self
exists available for sublimating
Long I quested for a god
human or otherwise
capable of bearing the weight
of my projected powers
equally long repressed in search
of a goddess's smile
Joyfully I found many such gods
and goddesses along my way
who willingly reigned over me
from thrones of my own making
but also, to my immediate despair
and eventual good fortune,
they all turned out to have clay feet
if not flawed theology
Until finally, when I come to dare,
I abandon this long escape,
withdraw my ancient projections,
and sometimes find the courage
to create myself, thank god
Although self and ego are commonly confused and/or taken to be the same, they are in fact distinctively different and exist in sharp opposition to each other. Whereas selfing (I shift to the participle for reasons noted above) is "real," ego is an illusion--that is an image, a fiction, a held sense-of-self which is quite apart from oneself sensing.
But even the distinguishing word "real" requires clarification. I use it here in the colloquial sense of describing the difference between something which actually exists in the material world rather than in the mental world (like a "figment of one's imagination?") only. Self (I shift back to the noun for purposes of language and thought) is potentially existent in the physical world; but ego only finds its "reality" in the realms of mind. Both, of course, may finally be described as "real" insofar as existential experience is concerned. In fact, ego, in actual practice, is often more experientially real than one's true self which is known only as a potential possibility--what one might become if ever he is able to escape from the illusions of ego.
Also I should note that I choose the word ego to name this illusionary sense-of-self because of its colloquial understanding, not its technical meaning as intended by Freud and other psychologists. In this classical sense, contrary to popular understanding, ego is the name of one of three components (id and super-ego being the other two) of one's psychic reality. Common understanding, however, comes closer to the sense of ego as an image rather than an actuality as I intend here. In either case, I want now to further explore the differences I intend in my use of the terms self as distinguished from ego.
Self is inherited; ego is constructed. Self is a potential product of mother/father genes; ego is formed later, partially from information a child garners from how parents behave and what they think. Selfing is a possibility every child is born with, while ego is a later acquisition conjured up, as it were, in quest of enhanced survival in the world, beginning with mother, then father, and extending finally to the larger social meme of What They Think--that is, the powerful forces of external opinions which surround us all and determine our acceptance or rejection from the communities in which we find ourselves.
Ego, I suspect, is always a smart act at first, that is, childhood wisdom operative in the world as it is at the time. At first a child must only be using available information about how to best present and represent himself in order to secure best advantages with parents; but in time, via self repression, we commonly fall for our own act and attempt the impossible task of trying to be what in fact remains but a clever image, usually out-dated as times and significant others change.
The capacity and potential for selfing lies in one's unique DNA, that is, individual combination of genes from the sperm and ovum whose union brought life into creation. We are, as commonly recognized, all literally "different"''as indicated by our fingerprints and one-in-all-the-world set of DNA (unless we are an identical twin). We, as it were, "come here" with the possibility of being a unique individual self based on and emerging from this different combination of genetic materials.
But I must keep adding the descriptive terms possibility and potential for self because selfing, as I noted before, is not automatic or guaranteed--at least for long. Perhaps new-borns are and may literally 'have to be themselves." But the dangers of simply "being oneself" must soon appear in every nursery and give rise to the pragmatic creation of an ego to replace one's problematic self--that is, an image designed and shaped to secure better responses from "powers that be" than does one's real, inherited, self.
For self to exist in the rapidly expanding world beyond earliest nursery days, one must literally create or give form to inherited genetic capacities in the surrounding world. All too often, self-being is stunted in its very beginnings and replaced by ego-building which must seem necessary at the time.
For now, however, I want to continue trying to clarify the differences I am beginning to recognize between "true self" and ego, what I was born to be and what I have tried to become. Some of the arenas of distinction include these:
I begin with the relationship between inherited capacity for thought itself--for "thinking our own thoughts," and the powerful meme of "public opinion" or, as I have named it elsewhere, What They Think. Self is created from genetic materials (DNA, as noted before), but this process of self creation occurs when perceptions are transformed into images, and these images de-coded into concepts. In summary, this natural mental process may be simply named thinking. We are born with this inherited possibility of 'thinking for ourselves"--that is, responding personally to the world as-we-perceive it. This wonderful capacity for think-ability, lies at the very heart of self creation. Certainly other inherited capacities are involved--such as, breathing, digesting food, and emoting; but none are so central to selfing as "thinking for ourselves," especially when combined with our latest to evolve capacity for consciousness--that is, not only Athinking" but also for holding thoughts in metaphored "mind space," for not only knowing, as do other animals also, but also for knowing what we know.
But our inherited possibility of 'thinking for ourselves" is always in the context of the thoughts of others who have preceded us, beginning with our mothers. Furthermore these prior existing thoughts all come with assorted powers attached, that is, forces which may sharply impinge on our own well being when or if we contradict them. What Mother Thinks, for example, is critically important in a child's very existence, let alone his happiness. On the other hand, especially in earlier generations, What A Child Thinks, is relatively insignificant insofar as parental powers are concerned.
Then, when the powers of What Mother Thinks are expanded to include those of others in one's social groups and the wider world, the near omnipotent meme of What They Think--that is, the thoughts of others personified in public opinion, becomes a truly awesome force in the world outside one's own mind. In the beginning, with one's mother, almost all the resources of the world, apart from air, are available only through the filter of What She Thinks; and later, peer and community acceptance is only slightly less relevant since it too holds powers over vast portions of resources needed for personal happiness along with survival itself.
Point: from the very beginning of life What They Think is an awesome force to be reckoned with by every child genetically charged with the challenges of becoming his/her unique self in social contexts. In contrast, the emerging but still infantile powers of personal thought are but a minor power at the time. Although crucially important in self creation, they are relatively irrelevant to other-acceptance.
And to make the situation more complicated, the thoughts of others, so critical in acquiring and keeping their needed favors, are often concealed, even cloaked by contradictory verbal messages. Mothers, for example, as we all know, often say one thing when they actually mean another. And duplicity which may begin at home, is commonly expanded outside the safer confines where blood is thicker than water. The childhood challenge in getting and keeping the acceptance necessary for access to needed resources commonly requires what amounts to "mind reading" abilities--that is, figuring out What They Really Think, even when they may say otherwise.
It is just this complicated necessity of "reading the minds" of others in order to fit in with their limited degrees of personal acceptance which invites the formation of images designed to "work" better than simply being one's natural self. From whatever we are able to garner from "what works" with others in securing what we need/want from them, we wisely begin to shape our acts of behavior--that is, the beginning stages of what may eventually become our ego or sense-of-self to replace our less functional inherited self.
The process of such ego-formation is, of course, far more complicated than I here summarize; but in general, most such creative construction is, as best I can tell, a product of our best determinations of What They Think. These images (illusions) of who we are (or try to be) must all be born from necessary attempts to fit in acceptably--at least sufficiently to keep the flow of required resources coming, with those who surround us.
At first, I speculate, we are all simply doing what seems necessary, that is, "our best" to maximize selfing advantages in the world as we find it. We are, literally acting like we think they want us to, all the while with self-knowing discretely hidden. In these early days, I think that self may remain relatively intact, only cloaked in socially (beginning with motherly) workable forms of behavior; but in time, and of course in varying degrees, it seems that we all come to fall for our own acts--that is, to identify our selves with what in fact are but the images we have wisely created to work for us. Then, we try to be our self-created images, and to not be our genetically inherited selves.
Serving others, especially through acts of self-denial, is, as we all know, one of the highest of social virtues. Conversely, "helping oneself" or "selfishly" tending to "Number One" is systematically condemned whenever it interferes with virtuous helping other people.
Paradoxically, as best I can tell, indiscriminately "helping others," especially at self expense, is unnatural and therefore not an aspect of healthy selfing. Selfing, with the support of instincts evolved long before these later times of human consciousness, is innately attentive to responsible self-tending, but only tangentially concerned with the welfare of others--beginning with one's own mother and then later extending to all people (and other life forms in the world).
"Helping others" is only natural when it becomes an extended or roundabout way of expanding self-caring. When, for instance, it is in the best interests of a little boy's welfare to "help" his mother as his primary care-giver, then such self-motivated concern becomes a natural extension of self-responsibility. Such a "good boy" is smartly tending to his own best interests by strengthening connections with the goddess who holds the keys to his expanded well being. Such "mother helping" is, consequently, but the apex of extended self tending.
And so it is with healthy selfing extended into community living beyond home. Because we are all apart of various groups, tending to these groups which also provide resources for our private well being is but a reasonably part of self responsibility. That it is also socially virtuous is purely incidental to the self serving nature of "helping others" when it is also beneficial to ourselves in the long run.
Understanding the practical nature of services to the larger community as but one form of expanded self tending is critical for distinguishing this type of self enhancement from the egotistical type of self sacrifices made virtuous by religions and most social structures. In the world of ego, where other-acknowledgment is crucially important, self denial, even self sacrifice, is truly virtuous; but in the real world of self, all such attempts to negate genetic heritage in quest of worldly affirmation are more indicative of spiritual pathology than personal health.
Insofar as selfing, not ego promotion, is concerned, helping others is only feasible as a pragmatic way of extending self help, especially of that part of oneself which finds its fulfillment in communal rather than private living only. Selfing persons "help others" because it is a form of self helping, not because it is inherently virtuous--especially when done at personal expense. Only ego-trapped persons willingly sacrifice their natural selves in quest of outside approval.
Services to others, from the standpoint of selfing are more like long range bartering or "back scratching" in the proverbial sense. "I'll scratch your back now" with the prospect of "being scratched back later."
The same is true with loving as with helping others. Other-love, like other-helping, is but an extension, even an expansion, of self caring--that is, an advance beyond what begins within one's own skin. As Jesus encouraged, we may "love others as (my italics) we love ourselves"--that is, "like" we already do ourselves before they are present.
Such "overflowing" love is in sharp contrast with the type of self-sacrificial "love" popularized in modern religions and romance. Selfing love aims at its own expansion through the path of other-loving, not at any degree of self negation. In genetic reality, "loving others" is simply the apex of "self loving" extended to the larger world. It is "more of the same," only in a larger arena with more variables than those found in a single self.
Ego "love," as promoted by popular religion and other social structures with their affirmations of self-sacrifice, always carries a hidden agenda--even when its outward sacrifices are at their greatest, as in life itself for such devoted martyrs. At lessor levels of personal denial, ego love has expectations, though commonly hidden, such as, appreciation, approval, or being loved in return. Whatever its hidden agenda, always it is there.
At higher levels of self sacrifice various other rewards, such as, bliss in heaven, "being with God," eternal life, or even living with 72 virgins (if one happens to be male), are among assorted fantasies underlying the expectations of ego love.
Self loving, in sharp contrast, finds its rewards within itself--that is, in the greater personal fulfillment inherent in extending selfing through acts of love beyond one's own skin. Loving others, for one who is being himself rather than promoting an ego, is not an inherently virtuous act; rather it is, in colloquial language, simply the "most selfish thing he can do." Loving others is not anti-self or self-sacrificial for one who is being him/her self; it is but "more of the same," only in the outside rather than inside world.
Agape, the highest form of love, is only possible to the degree of one's unrepression and return to natural selfing. "Christian love" based on self denial (repression) is innately flawed and dangerous, both to self and others in the long run. Long ago I learned to be wary of the "love" of "good people." Not that many advantageous "good deeds" aren't done by such persons, but because love rooted in self sacrifice is based on an illusion, a grand error in reality, it will predictably back fire or fall apart in time.
I have long thought the deepest human instinct is for survival, for "staying alive"--even deeper than the urge toward reproduction. I am now beginning to think that I have only seen the tip of the ice berg, or more literally, only the shadow side of this most primal genetic impulse. Survival urges, I am seeing now, are but the edges of an instinct which could more clearly be seen as creativity. We are most deeply moved, I think, to "make stuff." "Staying alive" is but the outer edge of creativity.
We adults only recognize the creative instinct as such, I surmise, when we are pushed to the edges of the overall capacity. Facing privation, injury, or death, we are freed, as it were, to become more conscious of urges to shape our surroundings in accord with innate pleasures--that is, bodily signs of what genes are most geared to do/be.
In the larger picture of genetics for selfing and sexing--that is, for existence-as-self and replication-of-self, creativity is at the heart of both selfing and sexing. The primal urge is to "fix things" in accord with genetic interests, including making more of ourselves. It just happens that breathing (as essential to staying alive) is the most elemental form of shaping or relating to the environment in self-satisfying ways. More than all else we want to "make room for air" since that is what our particular type of genes most need; but then to "make food," followed by "doing things" or shaping our environment most in accord with genetic dispensations--e.g., shaping temperatures compatible with best genetic ranges, then shaping light/dark sights, plus sounds, tastes, and feels in accord with what most basically "feels good" or fits genetic capacities.
"Making stuff" is a metaphor for creativity, for shaping the elements outside ourselves in accord with internal elements--that is, for arranging and/or providing stimuli which best fit the ranges of our innate perceptions, which are themselves guided by inward urges called desires or "good feelings." In other words, we are most deeply inclined to "make stuff (or 'do things')" which activate inherent capacities for selfing and self-replication. "Want" or pleasure or "feeling good" are but the best of our genetic clues to who we have evolved to be.
In broadest summary creativity might be defined as doing what feels good or pleases our deepest perceptions. Perhaps our first creative acts are gasping for air (which makes, we might say, our lungs feel good), then sucking for food (which pleases our stomachs). Soon we will begin to pee and shit (outflow which also makes internal organs feel good by reversing the process of intake). Concomitantly we will begin to move toward warmth and away from cold (creating comfortable temperatures), plus turn our eyes toward and away from light which falls within the range of wavelengths we have evolved to register comfortably.
Eventually we will be able to use our hands in grasping for what feels good, or pushing away what doesn't. These early bodily movements in quest of physical pleasures are the expansion of primal creative capacities. Surely survival is also involved, but only as the barest fringe of what a baby is all about--which is best seen as creating the world, including him/herself.
Shaping circumstances, the beginning of "making stuff," is but the outer form of the grander challenge of "making self." Creating-in-the-world is literally creating-self-in-the-world. When we are "making stuff" which fits our creative potential, we are, even without psychological knowledge, making ourselves--that is, giving shapes to becoming who we are. All true creativity, then, is self-creativity--with some forms appearing less personal than others. Probably bowel movements are our first noticeable-by-self forms of "making stuff" in the world outside our skins. First we "make poo-poo"--on the longer path to much more.
All such creativity is self-pleasuring since pleasure is our best conscious clue to pre-conscious genetic desires. We do/make what "feels good." Because selfing and self-replication can never finally be separated, except in our mind's eye, instincts related to self-survival can not be existentially distinguished from those for sex (self-reproduction). What feels good, feels good--as we all know. Pleasure is also associated with the word play. Children "just want to play," that is, do that feels good to them--as an extension of "wanting what they want when they want it."
And, given the primacy of sexuality as an element of selfing, the fun of playing with ourselves must lie very near the beginning of all creativity. We create "feel goods" both in the world of external and internal stimuli. We want to touch outside things which feel good, and our own "things" which feel good. Consequently, what will later be called masturbation and associated with assorted evils, must in fact be one of our earlier forms of self-creativity. Touching ourselves "down there" creates expanded pleasure, even as does touching various things "out there."
I observe these connections which will later become so disassociated in social life with others because I doubt that creativity can ever be clearly understood apart from its interwoven sexual roots. All creativity is a form of selfing; and since self-replication is inherently tied to selfing, no creativity can be devoid of satisfactions more clearly perceived as sexual also. This theoretical observation becomes relevant in practice because of the vast gulf which society tends to keep between "making stuff" which is socially useful and sexual instincts which are socially problematic.
This gulf is particularly relevant to males whose sexual impulses are far more focused in overt sexuality than are those of females. Our strongest biological powers are, I think, rooted in selfing/sexual instincts which can never, in reality, be pulled apart. When they are repressed in service of social acceptance/conformity, we males are left without conscious contact and possession of our grandest sources of energy for creation. We are, as it were, cut off (castrated) from the well-springs of personal creativity. We may continue to use our capacity for focused thinking or "making stuff" which is socially needed/approved, but we thereafter exist essentially separated from our major sources for truly creative living.
The most primal and powerful of all human instincts is, I now think, for being creative. Traditionally we have only come to recognize/acknowledge this force at its outer edges, where it is seen as focused on survival only. But in its larger sense the urge is to live creatively, not just to stay alive.
Being creative has two major arenas for operation: 1) creative selfing, and 2) creative self-replication. We are designed for being creative ourselves and for creatively reproducing ourselves. We are deeply moved first to create ourselves, and then to re-create ourselves, to be "all that we can be," and to "make as many more of ourselves as we can." We want, far below levels of conscious thought, first to "make ourselves" and then to "make more of ourselves."
The process of being creative may be analyzed into two major phases: 1) to know what we want--that is, to become aware of selfing and self-replication urges. We may call this first phase "thinking" or becoming conscious of what we deeply want. Then, in phase 2), we are moved to do something about it, to translate "thought" forms into "action" forms. Creativity at its most primal level of human operation begins when a baby 1) knows it is hungry, and 2) seeks action to satisfy itself via crying and then, when lucky, nursing. First it knows what it wants, and then it does something about the desire.
This familiar childhood event is prototype of all other human creative processes. Later, speech will be added, along with many other motor skills for use in the same types of endeavors. But still the process will be divisible in the mind's eye into these two phases: first, thinking about it, and then, doing something about (or out of) it.
Creative thinking, the first phase of creative acting, is relatively rare. I hardly ever do it, and, as best I can tell, I am fairly common in this habit. Although creative thinking is natural (any child, especially under age 5 can do it well), adults generally avoid the practice--for good and practical social reasons.
To understand this consequential fact we need first to recognize the difference between creative thinking and mental activity per se. To say that I, and most others, rarely think creatively is not to say that we do not "think," even that we are not intellectually gifted (as in having high I.Q.'s). Nor does it mean that we are not regularly engaged in rapid firing of brain cells, as would be discernable on brain wave tests. But much mental activity, even "thinking all the time," does not mean that creative thinking is in progress. In fact, most of my own "thinking (and I do much of it)" could more reasonably be described as "non-thinking" in the sense of creativity.
I am certainly active mentally, both awake and asleep. I, as they say, "think all the time" and regularly dream. I have been previously tested as having an I.Q. which is above average. But--and this is the fact I am trying to see more clearly, I rarely think creatively, in comparison with the use of my mental abilities in service of psychological habits of "non-thinking"--that is, the use of mind for purposes of social conformity and maintenance of mental habits acquired long ago (such as, "big-brother" type "thinking"). Mostly I use my good mental abilities to evade, not enjoy, the natural process of creative thinking--as my under five grandchildren still seem to do regularly.
This process of trying to clarify the nature of creative thinking is my way of trying to work my way out of habits of repression or "non-thinking" which I learned long ago and yet fill most of my waking hours.
So, first, I am noting that there is no correlation between "good mental abilities," even "high intelligence" or "excellent academic achievements" and creative thinking. One can be "exceptionally smart" and highly educated, and yet seldom if ever have a creative thought. Or, on the other hand, one can be "uneducated," even measured to have a low I.Q. and be socially seen as "dumb," and yet engage regularly in creative thinking.
I borrow the colloquial phrase "being reasonable" to try to clarify this difference between the type of mental activity in which I most often engage and the rarer events which I call creative thinking. Taken in its colloquial sense rather than as defined in male-type logic, reasonableness and creative thinking are synonyms. To think creatively is to be reasonable--that is, to be weighing all one's personally available data in reaching any immediate decision. The key word here is personal. In creative thinking one is honestly weighing all personal information when any summary conclusion is reached.
In contrast, in "non-thinking" one is only (or most heavily) weighing What They Think--that is, data from the minds of others rather than from one's personal experience. For example, the beliefs of others--the opinions, ideas, or information received from persons other than oneself are taken in substitute for personal reasoning. One, in this typical evasion of creative thinking, simply accepts the thoughts of other persons, for example, religious beliefs, rather than considering and weighing his own personal data.
I have previously concluded that What They Think must be the most powerful of all memes which genetically moved persons face in social groups. In every situation of life the opinions/ideas/beliefs of others are generally available and commonly forced on us--beginning with parents and extending to all other persons we come into contact with. Always some form or degree of What They Think is near of mind if not verbally displayed before us; even when no one is physically present we have all acquired enough information early in life to have a treasure trove of thoughts-from-others to substitute for the challenges of "being reasonable" ourselves--that is, weighing and "going by" What I Think rather than simply accepting and acting on What They Think.
Personal reasoning, in contrast with ingesting the notions of other persons, is based on personal information--that is, 1) data available to consciousness from genetic instincts, 2) present-tense sense information (what can be seen, heard, smelled, etc., at the time), 3) remembered experience in similar circumstances, and 4) personal goals at the time. Of course What They Think is one other source of personal knowledge in most circumstances; but in creative thinking it is simply weighed like other sounds/impressions from "out there" on the scales of personal experience. It is never, as in the "non-thinking" which so often characterizes my own mental activity, treated as inherently sacred or "right" when it does not weigh reasonably on the scale of personal experience.
In the beginning of every child's life the content of personal information is largely limited to genetic input--to inherited instincts, such as, to suck for air and food, plus small degrees of immediate sensual data, e.g., of temperature and noises. Soon, however, personal experience with the world, for example, what happened with mother at last feeding, is added to instincts and sense-input. In short order, personal experiences begin to magnify exponentially. Soon what any infant has "learned" in the proverbial School of Hard Knocks is expanded into a veritable encyclopedia of personal information--long before the time of speech and schooling. Although personal goals (#4 source of data for reasonable decisions) beyond genetic necessities are slower to arrive in consciousness, soon they too become available for the creative thinking of small children.
With adults all four sources of data for making personally reasonable decisions are continually available--at least potentially, and are always the basis for "what one thinks." Conclusions, on any subject, are drawn entirely from the four arenas of information; no idea/notion/opinion/belief from others is taken as truth "just because they say it." The only "sense" accepted in creative thinking is "what makes sense to me." The fact that some idea seems to "make sense" to others, even to be taken as "gospel truth" beyond all question, is of little consequence in creative thinking. Only when something "makes sense" to an individual--that is, weighs reasonably on the scale of personal experience, is it accepted in creative thinking.
Again in colloquial language, in creative thinking one is always "thinking for him/herself" rather than "believing what he/she is told"--even by the highest social authorities, beginning with mother and extending to professors, preachers, and popes. No data from others is ever "taken it" without being weighed on the scales of personal experience first; only when "it makes sense to me" can it become accepted data for the process of creative thinking. To be sure, external information--what can be read or learned from "authorities," is continually entertained or held in mind space for weighing against previously reached conclusions; but, and this is the critical factor: "book learning" or so-called "facts" from others are never blindly swallowed until they pass the test of "makes sense to me."
Earlier I noted that 4 sources of personal data are potentially available for every individual at all times. Time now to expand on potentially--that is, to take into account the common experience of human repression in service of social acceptance. Although the first 3 three types of personal information are readily available, even in the early weeks of life outside the womb, the psychological process of mental repression--of "not-thinking" in response to data from authority figures, beginning with mother, so commonly begins quickly that the curtailment of creative thinking must begin very early in life. Habits of "not-thinking" or repressing the natural process of creative thinking typically begin, as best I can tell, about the time that breast feeding ends--that is, soon after a child learns to recognize the voice of mother along with her smell, taste, and sound.
What Mother Thinks, the forerunner of the powerful meme, What They Think, seems to become operative, even dominant, in the early creative thinking of most children. "Just because I said so," in all its varying forms, tends to become a powerful factor in the beginning stages of suppression of creative thinking. Early in life, I, for example, came to curtail what I now understand as my creative thinking whenever it came face to face with conflicting data from my mother. Quite reasonably at the time, given the critical importance of her "good graces" in my physical well-being, I must have learned long before the times of conscious memory to suppress or curtail my personal thinking whenever it conflicted with that of the goddess who held my destiny in her hands--or so it must have seemed at the time.
However, it may have happened, whether from infantile wisdom or personal cowardice, I can in retrospect see that I somehow came to systematically curtail my own creative thinking in all arenas where it seemed to be in conflict with the authoritative voice of my mother--at least as I heard her. I can only surmise that my experience is not that uncommon with all other infants. Somehow we all, as best I can tell, begin early in life to suppress the natural process of creative thinking in favor of acceptance by the powers-that-be at the time--beginning with mothers.
But along with all the pragmatic benefits of securing parental approval by whatever means possible, including mental suppression, the psychological fact that temporary denials tend to become habitual and phase into established repressions is also inevitable. Early-on we all "learn" some degrees of non-thinking--that is, to simply accept what we are told for practical reasons, but in so doing to by-pass the normal process of creative thinking, including "making sense" ourselves before we accept the sense of others.
This apparently universal fact about repression beginning in early childhood is relevant in understanding creative thinking because of its relationship to data sources essential for "being reasonable." Only when all available personal information, including that which has been previously denied and/or repressed is taken into account, can creative thinking occur. Repression of specific data along with habits of not-thinking for ourselves always curtails the extent of creative thinking possible.
Whenever I must "block out" any bit of data from personal experience--either genetic input, current sensations, prior memories, or attention to personal goals, then I, to that same extent curtail creative thinking. I cannot truly "be reasonable," weighing my personal experience, for example, when I am "in denial" about what has actually happened in my past. "Blocking out"--that is, repressing memories of what actually took place, limits my personal data which would otherwise be available for creative thinking. Likewise, repressing awareness of genetic instincts or current sensations also interferes with natural creativity.
Point: all four sources of personal information are essential for healthy creative thinking. Repression of either one, including habits of non-attention and non-thinking ("just accepting what you are told"), proportionately prevent creativity. Whenever I am not fully present--that is, sensing/feeling/thinking/remembering, then to that same extent I cannot truly think creatively. Since degrees of personal "absence" are so common for me, my own creative thinking is predictably limited--often severely.
CHARACTERISTICS OF CREATIVE THINKING
Seeing creative is certainly not the same
as being creative, but unless I see what
I am trying to be, the odds of success
in becoming decrease often
to less than zero, leaving an automaton
where otherwise a person might be
Creative thinking is above all else personal. Either it occurs within the skin or a single individual person or it does not exist. To say that it is personal means that it must be done by a person him/herself, rather than being done for or given to him or her. No one else can do creative thinking for you.
This experience, though relatively rare in adults, is inherently citing--that is, energizing, empowering, and "lively," in contrast with tiring, draining, boring, or "dead." When seen in others they may be described as ex-cited, as though the source of powering is external; but in reality, citing is more literally accurate for one who dares think creatively. In this process one doesn't get excited or be made excited or caused to be excited by some external source of power, such as, an idea which "comes to him" or sight which "catches his eye."
These typical descriptions are fitted to our language structure and are descriptive within its confines; but they are existentially inaccurate. The citement of creative thinking and creative activity is inherent in the process itself, not in "something which causes it." In more familiar terms (I coin citement), creativity is fun, pleasurable, or playful. It is never dull or boring.
Other characteristics include temporal versus permanent. Creative thinking/acting is always and only in the moment--that is, a present-tense event incapable of being extended into the future. There is no such thing as permanent creativity. Once a creative thought and/or act occurs, it is done--over, past tense, "ancient history." The process may, when faith allows, be ongoing--that is, begun again in the next moment; but continuing in the creative process is not the same as making any creative thought or action permanent. When creativity is shaped into objects rather than actions the artful objects may, of course, be kept in time, even honored by others as "creative objects," e.g., paintings or sculptures, but for the creative person they are only products from the past. Once done, any creative shape--whether an idea, deed, or object, is like a relic from times gone insofar as the creative person is concerned.
To cling to creative expressions is to evade the natural process of continuing creativity, which is always temporal, never permanent.
From a social perspective, creative persons are undependable, just like the creative process itself. Because creativity is temporary from the perspective of time, one who is creating can never "be counted on" to be or do the same thing extended through time. The nature of the process is best described as "always changing" rather than "never changing," as is the case with "being dependable."
Perhaps the nature of creativity will be clarified if I explore its alternatives--ways in which I typically escape from the process. My most consistent escape or diversion from creative thinking is into the powerful meme, What They Think--at least as I imagine it to be. As I have described elsewhere, I think that What They Think is probably the most powerful of all social forces. "Public opinion," as a generalization for what particular persons may think or believe, is always easier for me than honesty about my private opinions. Rather than taking the chance of creative thinking myself, I easily escape into my notions of What They Think--or might be thinking if indeed they were.
Not that the thinking of others isn't a real factor, even as is the presence of other persons; but I refer here to my use of the possible thoughts of others to evade the process of "thinking for myself." Religious beliefs, for example, theological notions inherited from prior generations, are far easier to "just accept without thinking"--called "taking them by faith" in religious circles, than is creatively forming my own religious perspectives. And so with other ideas of parents, friends, teachers, leaders--or any other persons.
In creative thinking What They Think is often a relevant factor, but only when it realistically effects what I say or do--not simply because it may exist "out there." For example, the thoughts of a lover may indeed influence personal creativity; but the thoughts of a stranger are generally irrelevant in creative thinking. But commonly I use "their thinking"--as I imagine it might be, or more often react without thinking about it, to evade my own thoughts.
Time and numbers, mental concepts which exist "out there" and are passed on from generation to generation, even as are historical facts, are other popular evasions from creative thinking. In creativity timeliness counts, indeed it is critically important; but time itself, that is, measurements by clock or calendar, are irrelevant to the creative process. Creating is, of course, in time, and thus subject to measurement by time; but, and this is the critical fact I am trying to recognize more often: time cannot touch creativity. When I am creating, it is as though time ceases to exist. Clocks are still ticking, yes; but insofar as creativity is concerned, they might as well stop because they bear no real connection with the process.
By timeliness, as distinguished from timed or on time, I mean that the wealth of real factors which comprise creativity must indeed all converge or be coordinated in timely fashion. Because all elements of reality are constantly changing--moving, evolving, never the same in the next instant, creativity requires a unique or timely synthesizing of each of its elements (as enumerated above). Yet time itself, as a literal measurement, has no essential connection with any creative whole. In practice, to think about the clock or to attempt creativity on a timed schedule is to evade the process itself. Whenever I am thinking about time, I am escaping the demands of creative thinking.
Not that time becomes irrelevant, any more than it, as a mental concept essential in social functioning, ceases to exist; but that turning my attention to time is turning it away from creativity. Surely scheduled social events, so-called "deadlines," continue in effect (soon I must stop this attempt at description in order to receive a scheduled massage); but moving from the flow of creativity to "attend to time" is to leave the creative process itself.
And so with numbers which are also an invaluable mental tool for many creative projects--especially so for social structuring. But numbers, of which time is but one example, remain in reality as mental constructs, "ideas" we may use. Whenever I attempt to "go by the numbers"--that is, to create in ways which either time or numbers can measure, then I have escaped from the creative process as best I now understand it. Using numbers, as may commonly occur in creative thinking, is not the same as "going by" or being determined by numbers. My escape is slipping into dictation by numbers, such as, letting the numbers on an exercise machine determine how many repetitions I will do. Or, I may evade creative thinking by wondering how many pages I should write, or how long or short (a numerical measurement) any idea or action "should" be.
An honest thought, the basis for a creative act, is a notion formed from personal perceptions, which are themselves a combination of experience and desire--a union of internal urges coupled with external circumstances.
In the beginning, when patterns of thinking are being established, 1) desires are primal genetics--that is, about selfing and self-replication (traditionally seen as survival and reproduction), and 2) circumstances are parental powers (plus facts of life). We first learn to think, before repression sets in, when our universally similar selfing urges meet our universally unique family forces.
Our first creative "thoughts" (we project back onto babies) involve combining personal urges arising from universal instincts with particular forms of parental forces--first in arenas of eating (sucking) and defecation (shitting). First we creatively deal with how to keep the milk we want coming: after crying and getting a breast, do we best smile or bite? Which works better: face or teeth? And then later, what shall we do with "food giving"--that is, defecation? How shall we most creatively control our bowels? Past creatively acquiring food, the first "thing we can make" is "poo-poo." Shit, as it were, become our first external creation in the world.
In principle then, phase 1, thinking, our first notions are informed by 1) "feels good" and 2) "what happens." In seeking satisfaction for hunger urges, does smiling ("being nice") work better or worse than biting ("being aggressive")? And later, when we begin to acquire some control over bowel movements, does being "potty trained" serve us better? Or can we wield more creative power by "holding out," even becoming "constipated"?
I noted three facts yesterday which are relevant to understanding creative thinking: 1) all instincts have one most primal form of expression, e.g., aggression and biting or hitting; 2) there is no innate connection between any instinct and any particular form of expression; and 3) all instincts are "containable" without any form of outward action. For example, even though striking out is the most primal way of expressing aggression, the two are not inherently connected as though "to feel aggressive" is the same as "striking out." Aggression may in fact be "acted" in any number of equally expressive ways. Finally, aggression, or any other urge, can potentially be "contained" or held without any form of expression at all. One can "just feel aggressive" and "not do anything about it."
In creative thinking these three facts are continually operative, alive and well, and held in consciousness--that is, one who acts creatively is always aware of #1, the most primary form of any "feeling's" natural action (e.g., that lust most basically is expressed in fucking); and of #2, that there are, however, many other ways in which lust, or any other urge, can be expressed; and, finally, #3, that any urge, lust included, can, when feasible, be contained without giving it any form of outward expression. I can, for example, see an attractive woman, feel lustful and 1) be aware of my desire to fuck her, 2) realize that lust can also be expressed in countless other ways, 3) choose from among these alternative actions, including the last possibility, namely, of "doing nothing at all" about my instinctive desire. All creative acting follows a similar process.
Consciousness is the most critical factor in this process. Creative acting relies more on personal awareness--allowing and holding all three facts in mind space, than on any thing else. Whenever one opts for either of the more common choices--the Baby Way or the Religious Way ("acting-out" or repression), thereby evading consciousness, then this third path, the Human Way, is closed. Without consciousness for creative thinking, creative acting is impossible.
The content of consciousness can be further broken down into certain predictable parts: first, there is awareness of the urge itself. The instinct which is simply acted-out automatically in the Baby Way, or denied in consciousness in the Religious Way, is first of all allowed/invited into full awareness in the Human Way. Whatever the instinct, be it anger, fear, or lust, etc., before creative acting can ever take place one must "feel the feeling" and temporarily hold it consciously on the stage of mind. This, of course, more clearly belongs in phase one, thinking, which precedes any particular action.
CONTENT OF CREATIVE THINKING
Although creative thinking occurs quickly and in an undifferentiated manner, it can, from a distance be analyzed into these general parts: 1) awareness of its basic urge and its most primal form of expression, e.g., to hit, kill, fuck, or run away; 2) memory of prior experience in similar circumstances, e.g., what I did, what happened last time, including any programmed learning or patterned reactions--what I would do if I don't think now; 3) possible actions, alternative forms of expressions, choices in what I might do presently; 4) predictable consequences of various actions, what is likely to happen if...; 5) goals at the time, e.g., keeping my job, winning the game, staying married, etc.; 6) present perceptions--what I can see, hear, smell (sense) in the immediate situation, including any internal sensations in addition to primal urges, plus external data from other persons or current circumstances; 7) reasoning--weighing the above factors in the process of harmonizing them, seeking the most reasonable option in light of all available data.
Taking all this information into account, weighing it all, what do I choose to do? Beginning with what do I want to do?, in creative thinking I proceed on to consider the above noted data and decide what I may sensibly opt to do--including nothing.
Listing these various sources of mental data for creative decisions makes it sound immensely complicated when reduced to words--and it is, as a mental activity; but the nature of human minding and consciousness is such that it may actually be done quickly--even within split seconds.
This process of creative thinking may be further clarified by looking at its alternatives which are more commonly taken past early childhood--diversions or escapes, they may be called. First and perhaps the most oft taken escape from creative thinking, which by nature of itself is always personal, is looking for or accepting what others may think (or have done so in similar situations). "What would they do?" What should one do in such a situation?" "What is the right thing to do?"
These and similar questions all involve a type of mental activity which is a diversion from creative thinking. Instead of creatively weighing one's own data in the process at arriving at a personal decision, one looks for and takes data from other persons, either present or in the past. For, example, rather than making up one's own mind, one might imagine instead, "What would my mother want me to do?" The possible sources for these escapes from creative thinking are many; the result of them all is the same: actions taken (or not taken) are "other-directed" rather than self-chosen.
Closely related to the diversion of "piggy-backing" on the minds of others is the process of judgment (which is commonly based on previously accepted ideas from others). Judgment is recognized by its association with words such as should/ought, good/bad, right/wrong. All such pre-determined or externally based decisions are a diversion from creative thinking. To ask "What should I do?," or, "What is the right thing to do?," rather than "What do I choose to do?" is to flee into assorted judgments and thereby escape the process of creative thinking.
Conscience, as commonly understood, is one other type of judgmental escape from creative thinking. The content of conscience it typically but an ingestion of the ideas, values, or thoughts of authority figures in one's early life--most typically, one's mother and father. In developing a conscience a child in effect "swallows" the beliefs of parents, etc., into his own deeper mind as a type of warning gyroscope which shakes and thereby gives clues to possible offenses to those who may harm him. Such accepted beliefs from others about what one should and shouldn't do, because they are typically learned early and repressed deeply, are often taken to be sacred or universal--as though they are inherited from the gods.
When conscience is taken as sacred, one may escape creative thinking via the ancient dictum: "Just let your conscience be your guide." Although those who follow this directive often feel virtuous or "right" about their decisions, analysis can often reveal the provincial nature of conscience's contents--that is, it can be traced back to early sources with parents or local communities. In either case, conscience as a dictator of actions is just one more escape from the challenges of creative thinking. Conscience is a better guide to remaining in parental favor than for making creative decisions.
In practice, thinking and acting are so intimately intertwined that separation, as I am attempting here, is impossible. Normally, in creative living, we think and act in a continuously merged pattern which obscures these differentiations. Nevertheless, for analysis such as this, which may be useful in practice, we can draw lines between the two phases of being creative.
I turn now to the second part: doing which emerges from thinking--that is, to the active or visible elements in the third major option for What To Do With Instincts?, namely, translation. In principle, the answer is to translate a natural urge into some shape or form which respects both the power and nature of the inner instinct itself, but also takes into reasonable account available information about outer circumstances.
Outer circumstances include material resources available for giving shape/form to urges (desires)--that is, what is at hand to use in expressing "what I feel"? Shape/form includes both words and deeds as well as material objects. Instincts can be given form in verbal expressions, physical actions, or objective shapes, such as, art forms, created objects, etc. Thus one can "say" a desire in words, deeds, or objects, e.g., a sentence or writing, an action, or an invention or painting. The key issue is honesty and accuracy of the expression, not which shape it is given. Sometimes a verbal statement "works" best. At other times, "doing something" is better. Then again, remaining silent and "making something" may be more appropriate.
Circumstances also include, as noted above, the potential effects of any expression on other persons, including social structures (laws, mores, etc.) which may be effected by the urge's expression.
No word or deed is done in complete isolation such that outside effect can be reasonably ignored. Every movement, including sounds, has some outward effect, even, we are told, a butterfly's wings in South America. Point: In creative acting one always considers both inward urges and outward effects. Primarily these include: 1) Malleability of "materials" available--that is, physical properties of the medium of expression, how "it" is capable of being shaped by the creating person. If the "material" of expression is language, then how amenable are available words for giving accurate shape to the creative idea? If the "material" is an object how shapeable is, say, clay or paint, for giving honest form to the instinctual urges in awareness? Or, if the expression is a deed, some action in the world, then how malleable are current circumstances--people and situations, for forming the desire into a deed?
2) Resonance from circumstances is the second consideration in choosing a form for creative action. Not only must the "materials" be subject to shaping, as though they were inert within themselves, but when "feedback" or external stimuli comes from any chosen material, then that data will also be considered in forming a creative action. For example, if molten metal is one's chosen media, then the heat ("feedback") of the metal must also be taken into account. If the media is a deed, then the world's reaction to the deed is equally important. World includes both nature and people, that is, how the "laws of nature," such as, gravity, and the laws of people, such as, speed limits, may effect an action.
If, for example, a creative act is visible to any other person, then that person's potential reaction (resonance) to the deed must also be considered in shaping the creative activity. The human "world" in which individual creating takes place is just as significant in shaping deeds as is the material world of nature. How my mother (or any others) may respond to what I do is as relevant as how Mother Nature "reacts" to my actions.
If, for instance, I as a child want to go naked in the world, Mother Nature may hardly care less, but Mother Evans may react quickly. If I want to say obscene words, again the reactions of the natural and the social worlds will be predictably different. But the point is that in shaping a creative expression all circumstances, both material or natural and social, will be taken into account.
In relative isolation from other people, only the predictable reactions of Mother Nature will call for attention; but as soon as any other person comes into contact with my actions, then their "laws" will also be taken into account as I shape a creative expression--either verbally or in deeds. The overall question in regard to circumstances is: Just what kind of honest deed will fit acceptably both with Mother Nature and with those persons present in the social situation which surrounds us both?
In summary, context is critically important in the artistry of creative acting. Recognition of internal urges must come first, but then attention to external circumstances follows immediately. As soon, for example, as I know what I "feel like doing," I will, if I am to act creatively in what I say, do, or make, turn my attention to the properties of my available "materials," including the malleability of tangible stuff as well as the potential reactions of the people who will encounter me in this shaped form.
With these factors in mind--internal instincts and external circumstances, I turn to think about how the two may be artistically mixed. First, a definition may be in order. A creative act, whether shaped into words, deeds, objects, or some combination of all three, is one in which an instinct is given a form correlating as closely as possible to its pure nature. Rarely, in the real world, will any shape truly contain or express a "feeling" with 100% accuracy; but the artistry of creative acting is to bring them as nearly together as is humanly possible. Limitations of materials and circumstances--what, say, words, paints, or people can stand, are always a final dictation; but within the limits of "stuff" and society, vast freedoms are always open for artistic creations emerging from instinctive givens.
I try again for definition: a creative act is any human expression in which an individual's genetic heritage and personal experience are translated as accurately and honestly as possible into some externally perceivable shape--such as, a sentence, a deed, an object, or some combination of each. A creative verbal expression, for instance, is a sentence in which one's personal thinking is translated as accurately as the limitations of available language and words will allow. If the sentence is simply thought or written for oneself alone (as in a diary), then all known words are available for shaping the thought; but if there may be other hearers or readers, then the limitations of their hear-ability will become an additional consideration. Alone, for example, the vilest type of cursing with the most obscene of all words may be the most creative form of verbal expression; but with any other person present, all language will be more artistically shaped considering the possible effect of one's words on the hearer. In creative speaking, the degree of personal honesty will remain the same, but the artistry lies in choosing words/sentences which consider both my thinking and a listener's hearing.
The same principles apply to expressive deeds. The first requirement of a creative action is that my honest instincts and experience must somehow be translated into the deed; but secondly, the perceptions of others (a part of external "circumstances") will also be taken into account. My prior experience with how other persons will predictably react to any given deed must also be a part of my consideration when I give shape to a creative activity. "What I feel like doing," for example, is just one consideration in any creative deed; how "they" are likely to take what I do is an equally important consideration for a creative act in the social world.
Given these two major arenas: 1) internal drives plus previous learning, and 2) external circumstances, a creative act is the best merging of each which I can "come up with" at the time. My creative thinking (part one, as described above) is translated or formed into creative acting. Rarely, given the inevitable limitations of circumstances, including materials and people, will any external act, no matter how creative, correlate 100% with one's desires and experience; but the artistry of creative living is bringing the two as harmoniously together as is humanly possible.
Now I can put these two elements--creative thinking and creative acting into a whole in my larger goal of creative living. What I aspire to is creative living--that is, existing in each moment of my life, in every situation in time and space, merging my honest thinking into shapes (words, deeds, objects) which express myself as clearly and accurately as possible just then. I would that I be continually thinking and acting creatively--that is, living creatively.
Creativity is the most powerful and pervasive of all genetic instincts. Mother Nature has many directives, but none so clear and universal as the urge to create--that is, to "make things," beginning with ourselves and more of ourselves. The overall drive to create may be broken down for thought purposes, if not in practice, into two parts: first an urge to create ourselves, and then to re-create other selves in our own image--to produce and to re-produce.
Primary creativity, seen in urges to "make stuff" out of whatever materials we find at hand, is most basically about shaping inward instincts into outward forms, giving "body" to desires. The forces of genetics, the directives of DNA, the orders of Mother Nature--call them what we will, "say" in effect, "shape outside circumstances to fit inside conditions." "Order the world out there to conform, as best you can, to the world in here. With the capacities you inherit, mediated to awareness via desire (wants), try your best to make external things correspond with internal capacities. Get what genes need; do what DNA wants you to do."
As we have evolved, our most primal genetic requirements are air and food, breath and sustenance, comfort and its expansion into pleasure. Consequently the strongest forces of creativity begin with the quest for breathing (getting oxygen) and sucking/eating (getting nutrients). More than all else--of which there is indeed much, Mother Nature directs us to shape the world to fit our genetic necessities of breath and nourishment, followed by comfort and pleasure ("feeling good" and "feeling as good as possible").
This most primal part of creativity has been traditionally recognized as the urge to survive, to "stay alive" at all costs. Commonly we recognize and acknowledge this basic aspect of creativity--though only in its barest of outlines. What we dimly see as a survival instinct is, I posit, but the outer edge, the beginning foundation, a reflected shadow, of a massive force more clearly called creativity. Surely we "want to keep on breathing," to "get enough to eat," and to "stay warm"--to exist, we might say; but these primal necessities of "food, clothing, and shelter" for genetic life are only the beginning, the outer edges of the grander directive to exist well, not simply to "stay alive" but to shape circumstances for "lively living," for living, yes, but largely for living fully. First we gasp for air, suck for milk, and seek comfort, but once we have these, the major forces which move us, the ones more commonly recognized in awareness, are about creativity--"making things" which fit/allow the expression/expansion of our inherited capacities which only begin with directions for "staying alive."
Two year olds, for best example, surely want to breath, eat, and keep warm; but their most visible energies are regularly directed at creating--that is, shaping the outside world, beginning with parents and stuff in the house, to best fit "what they want." They, as we all know, "want what they want when they want it." And the key word is want, which is but a name for genetic directives in action. Although adults tend to put down on "strong willed children" who are so completely "selfish," only thinking about "what they want to have/do," what we are confronting in two year olds is but a purer form of a human being more fully obedient to Mother Nature than to its birthing mother. Such a child, yet to be "civilized," still expresses its own "wants," which is to say, its ingrained urges to, in effect, create the world in its own image.
This is the grandest of all our instincts--the urge to create, to "make things," to shape the world into conformity with our universally unique set of genetic capacities--as best we can. "Making things" is a colloquial expression for what is more finely seen as individual creativity, the urge to give outward shape and form to inward desires, which are themselves but the "voices" of DNA. In summary, what is commonly seen as a primary instinct for survival--to "stay alive," is more clearly recognized as a far grander directive to "stay lively"--that is, to shape the world, to "make things" which fit/conform/allow our unique individuality, to make/do available circumstances and materials into "things" which activate our fullest degrees of liveliness. This is what I mean by creativity.
More than all else I want to create--to live, yes; but even more so to live-well. And as best I can tell so far, this means to be continually shaping the world, plus making shapes in the world, in obedience to the powerful directives of Mother Nature, herself a personification of invisible-to-me strands of DNA comprising the formula for my unique-in-all-the-world self.
In largest perspective, all creativity is "selfing" or self-creativity. Whatever else we may be creating, be it actions or objects, we are always about creating ourselves--at least when we are following Mother Nature's directives. "Self-creating" is a literal phrase--that is, in all creativity we are "making ourselves" or creating who-we-are; we are giving shape/form to the essence of genetic givenness, including both our universal human capacities, plus our own unique versions of our biological commonness. Not that we are creating a self, like an object among other objects; but that as potential selves made possible when sperm unites with ovum, we are responsibly continuing in the process once begun when our parents "had sex," thereby initiating our eventual selves. Creating, we might say, is selfing--insofar as any unique person is concerned. We are, when obedient to Mother Nature, continually about the process of self-creation when we give true and honest shape to the primal urges at the heart of our unique being.
Every word, deed, and thing made by a two year old, for example, is, literally, a shaping of his/her primal genetic instincts. In the process of molding circumstances--beginning with parents, nursery equipment, and supplies, and activating "wants," a child is creating its self. Not an internal "it"--like an entity-in-body (soul or self), but a participating creation which is both separate and apart-of at the same time. Self-inside and self-outside are the same in reality--and in small children before the process of socialization has curbed their becoming. The "things" they make, such as, drawings on paper or "houses" out of blocks, are both external "objects" as well as internal creations--that is, what-they-do/make is the same as who-they-are. They are, in adult language, continually about making themselves or "self-creation."
But the major problem of inherently creative children in society is that "what I want" and "what mother wants" are so soon at odds--that is, genetic "wants" and social desires fall soon into conflict. "Minding mother" and "making up my own mind" soon bump into each other. What She "wants me to do" and what I "want to do" do not correlate for long. The major challenge of civilization, beginning at mother's proverbial knee (actually, her breasts) is: how to shape/bend instincts of children to fit established shapes of social structures which surround us all--how, that is, to make children "behave themselves" in a manner which favors prevailing social structures, beginning with every mother's small world.
In a nutshell the task of society begins with the challenge of teaching children to "mind our mothers (who are the fore-runners of all others in positions of social authority)" rather than "minding ourselves"--that is, following genetic directives brought-to-mind (consciousness) via personal desires. The bottom line of "minding mother" as prototype of "minding others" who will soon follow in her train of social authorities, is, in effect, "giving your mind to your mother (letting her make up your mind for you)," rather than continuing to "make up your own mind" in the inherited process of self-creation.
Enter religion on the social scene. At this point in the challenging process of socializing children to make them "good family members" as a prelude to "good group members (good citizens)," religions have evolved, I surmise, to help ease the perennially difficult task. With the help of religious theories ("beliefs") we creative children soon begin the universal process of suppressing personal instincts in favor of socially established behaviors. We learn to deny "what we want to do" in quest of the favors of those in authority over us who inevitably "want us to behave" otherwise. We suppress instincts, first in search of mother affirmation, and later for group acceptance. We begin by "giving our minds (our decide-ability)" to our mothers, and later to our other social authorities who come to supplant her original ultimate authority over us.
In psychological language, we begin early, somewhere between ages two and five, to repress self-creativity in service of social-acceptance--beginning with "minding our mothers," followed by "minding others." We become obedient to our birthing mothers rather than remaining obedient to Mother Nature. We, in quest of essential group-membership (belonging to a family/clan), trade in creativity for acceptability. We learn, if smart, to give up "doing what we want to so" in favor of "doing what we should do," etc.
I describe the process of repression in its more socially favorable light, when we learn to "behave ourselves" and "mind our mothers," rather than in its opposite form in which we come to be "misbehavors" who rebel against "minding parents" and become "hard-headed," "stubborn," and rebellious instead of obedient. But other-directed behavior, whether plus or minus, positive or negative, "good" or "bad," is still not the same as self-directed. Whether we choose the easier path of social obedience or the more difficult way of social disobedience, still we are engaged in a diversion from self-creativity. Whether we "behave" or "misbehave," whether we "mind our mothers" or rebel against them, still we are being moved by outward forces rather than those we have evolved to embody--that is, genetic creativity.
But repressing creativity in service of social acceptance does not make "it" go away; repression only "pushes it down" into what we have come to call the "unconscious mind." And, following the second half of the psychological dictum, such repressions always lead to projections. What we deny within ourselves (literally, as ourselves) eventually "pops up" as it were, "out there." And when religious perspectives are available, "out there" boils down to "God"--that is, God becomes the grandest of all mirrors for glimpsing repressed aspects of ourselves in their projected forms "out there." What we most consistently repress within ourselves, we, predictably, most completely "see (imagine-to-be)" reflected in our gods (and demons).
Consequently it is understandable that the most universally accepted attribute of God is His creativity. In traditional theology of most religions, God is indeed "the Creator of the world." In Christianity, Genesis begins with an account of God's creativity--his making the world and all that is in it, including we the people. For openers, with, of course, much to follow, God becomes the prime recipient of human creativity. We learn early to blindly create a grand Creator for mirroring the creativity we have come to repress from personal awareness. We "see," as it were, "out there" in a personified God, the primary capacity we have repressed "seeing in here"--namely, self-creativity. We imagine an Infinite Creator who serves as a grand mirror for finite creativity repressed from personal awareness.
Self-blinded to our own creative capacities, we predictably turn to our self-created Creator in quest of His creative powers in service of our own denied desires. We want God to "make our world better" for us, after we relinquish our own world-making capacities. We pray to him to do for us what we want but have cut ourselves off from the capacity to do for ourselves.
The first phase of creativity--the instinct for selfing or self-creating, soon phases into the second, namely, for re-creating. First we are moved to create ourselves, then, following puberty, to re-create ourselves. First we want to "make ourselves," then, in time, we want to "make more of ourselves." First we want to produce, then to re-produce. After "making this baby," we soon begin to want to "make more babies."
But if self-creativity is a problem in society--as it obviously is, self-re-creativity soon follows in its tracks. When the capacity for selfing, seen as "selfishness" in society, is augmented with that for re-selfing, known as "sexiness," then the process of repression is also predictably continued. First we learn to repress "selfishness," then "sexiness." We strive, in pursuit of social virtues, to become "unselfish" and relatively "unsexy"--at least chaste and faithful.
But once again the psychic laws of repression/projection follow as surely as do the physical laws of rising/falling--called "gravity." Once we "push down" urges for re-creation or re-production, the same thing happens as when we deny instincts for creation and "making things"--that is, projection. Suppress "it" in here and it pops up "out there." Blinded to insight, we cannot but seek "outsight" for at least reflecting what lies hidden within.
Enter religion again, in service of self-repression/projection. The same God who first served as image for repressed self-creativity becomes further available for imaging the power of repressed capacities for re-creativity--for making more of ourselves. Predictably then, in the Bible beginning with Abraham, we turn to God to also create babies--to "bless the womb with fruit"--as in, making Sarah pregnant. If God can create the world, including human-kind, as we have already imaged him to do, then surely making more babies will be as nothing. Perhaps creation was phenomenal (as reflection of self-creational capacities), but re-creation should be a snap!
The social problem however, is that while creation itself is virtuous, so long as it aims at social enhancement, and even re-creation is valued when kept within the bounds of social structures, such as, monogamous marriage, many of the drives of Mother Nature are not. Indeed, most all elements of instinctual sexuality are extremely problematic in social groups. So what to do? The religious answer is to create negative gods to mirror projected powers of biological forces which are challenging in society--that is, devils or demons to bear the weight of socially dangerous urges, just as gods (or God, in the case of monotheism) mirror what is socially "good." Consequently, when we come to sexual urges which are socially unacceptable, as distinguished from those to reproduce within the structures of social approval, we also need negative images to reflect socially unacceptable urges--that is, "bad" devils to match our "good" gods.
Predictably, we creative humans come up with them as well. We already had our God (or gods) to do our major creating, to make all the "good" stuff, including our babies; but we still needed mirrors for our "bad" desires, e.g., our "lusts" for other than wives/husbands. Enter the devils, who, as we all know "make us want to do it" when, according to the laws of society/church, we shouldn't.
So, with the addition of a bad devil to complement the good God, we have mirrors for projecting images of both our major human instincts--first the more powerful and pervasive urges for creating, and then for the socially unacceptable aspects of re-creating, namely, sexual desires outside of marriage--however we structure it to be. God "makes the good things," including earthly happenings and babies in the family, and the devil "makes us want to do the bad things," such as, "misbehave" and "lust" when we shouldn't.
Behold, how creative we human creatures are!
An icon is an image, a mental picture, a group of perceptions frozen in mind space. When an icon has religious significance it is called idol when viewed negatively, or a god when taken to be favorable. Icons may be tangible or intangible, physical or mental only. They may be objectified, as in a clay idol, or subjectified, as in a set of physical conditions, such as, group approval. They may also be held in consciousness or repressed out of awareness. Common American icons include: God, devil, Santa Claus, Mother, Fame, Wealth, Winning, Principles, and in the case of religions, various Beliefs.
Whatever their shape of form--whether physical, mental, or a combination of both, in common all icons draw their power from human projection. Powers which actually exist within human potential are repressed from awareness, unconsciously projected onto an image which thereby becomes an icon, and then related to as though they truly existed within the icon. I italicize as though to call attention to the metaphorical nature of all icons. It is, in reality, as though any given image holds power inherently or on its own. Once an icon is accepted, the projecting person treats it as innately powerful; self-blinded to his/her own repressions and projections, such an one "lives-as-though" the image is powerful.
The most common and powerful of all human projections onto icons are: creativity and re-creativity--that is, our instincts for creating (ourselves and the world) and for re-producing ourselves, for "selfing" and "sexing." In religions these two most primal human capacities are repressed from awareness in their adherents and then projected onto gods and demons of assorted types, plus the beliefs and behaviors which evolve around them. In secular life they are typically projected onto "irreligious" images, such as, a female body (or various of its parts), Social Approval (the meme, What They Think, "being liked and/or loved," public recognition, or fame.) Sacred beliefs in religion are paralleled by sacred principles in society. "Believing in God," for example, is paralleled in society by "believing in justice (patriotism, honesty, etc.)."
Once repression/projection of any human capacity occurs, one is left dis-empowered, as it were, of whatever he/she has come to suppress/deny within. Instead of, for example, being creative, of responsibly shaping self/world in creative ways, one then looks to the icon which bears his projected powers to, in effect, "do it for him." In the case of God, one believes God is Creator and hence responsible for all creative activities in the world. He then, reasonably, seeks to impress God, through beliefs and behavior, into bestowing His creative powers in favor of the unwitting idolater. Or, he seeks to cajole God into acting on his behalf, wielding His creative powers in shaping the world to suit His loyal and obedient subject.
Or, in the secular world, when the icon is, say, Mother, one relates accordingly--that is, he tries to "be good" in ways which Mother approves, even as does a religious adherent try to please God. He tries to think and act ("mind" and "behave") so as to hopefully wield Mother's creative powers in self-satisfying ways.
Specific aspects of larger instincts for creation and re-creation, such as, self-making and self-citing, are commonly projected onto more specific local images. The powers of God In The Sky or Mother Back Home may, for example, be currently projected onto Peer Group Approval (What Others Think Of You) or Women's Breasts. Thereafter one will predictably devote energies which would otherwise be available for creativity into diligent efforts to gain the attention and affirmation of friends, or to see/touch female breasts. Instead of "being good" to please God or Mother, one then tries to be a "good friend (group member)" or "good man (husband)" in order to hopefully wield the powers of the group or woman in his favor.
In summary, icons are images which have been frozen in mind space and made recipient of personal powers repressed and projected. Once any such idol is established, the "believer" lives-as-though (consciously or unconsciously) the icon truly possesses powers which have been blindly given to it. Actual life in the real world becomes, in effect, a metaphored life. Everything is as though--that is, within the scope and parameters of the illusion which was created in the process of repression/projection. Life in this real Garden of potential Pleasure (called Eden in the bible) is supplanted by existence in an unrecognized Enchanted Forest populated by a wide variety of ghosts and demons, Gods and Goddesses, plus their countless variations on the same themes.
And humans who might otherwise be creating in Eden find ourselves, like Adam and Eve, "cast out of the garden."
In my particular versions of this common human phenomenon of human idolatry I find in retrospect that my major mirrors for projecting my creative powers have been God, Mother, Principles, Wealth, and Women. Actually, in time, the first two were reversed in practice, but only lately recognized as such. I was first aware of my projections onto God, and only much later did I come to realize how prior projections onto Mother became the prototype of my religious beliefs.
In practice, my de-coding energies were first focused on the Sky God which had unwittingly been used to replace and thus cloak my larger idolatry of an Earth Mother. Finally, in the process of a lifetime profession in the ministry, I was able to work my mental way out of my ethereal idolatry, all the while blindly maintaining my earthly worship of the Goddess, personified first in my birthing mother, then in girl friends, wives, and females-in-general.
Next, in time, after de-coding most of my religious beliefs, I began to see my continuing idolatry of secular principles, such as, Fairness, Service, and Self-sacrifice. I have, at least in my mind's eye though not yet in my body, been able to de-code many of these secular principles also.
While caught up in images of God and Woman, plus beliefs and principles, I was fortunately able to avoid some of the other more common idolatries, such as, Fame and Winning. These typical male idolatries have long been visible to me, and hence somewhat avoidable in practice if not in inclination.
But Wealth, I am just now beginning to recognize, has remained long repressed as a dark idol in my personal religion. I have outwardly avoided its pursuit, as males are more typically inclined to do; but unconsciously I have kept it on the hidden altar of my deeper mind. Outward avoidances have allowed me to keep my secret projections unrecognized--till now. Yesterday, midst a confrontation with Anita about going to Spain this summer, I came to see that two of the most powerful remaining icons in my extended Hall of Images are: Money and Her Good Graces. Although I am generally able to remain unaware of my idolatry of "filthy lucre" so long as I am surviving fairly well in the financial world, as soon as "money begins to run low" I am immediately moved, even unconsciously, off my Green Spot. I get "out of sorts," "off-center," certainly uncreative, and darkly inhuman when I fear it may be lacking. On the other hand, when wealth is at hand, that is, whenever I feel that I am "well off" then I am automatically comfortable with myself and begin again to ignore business and "tending to money."
I can now see that I have never faced the reality of money in the world as clearly as I have looked to de-code the illusion of God in the sky, or even Mother in Saline. I have been fortunate enough, through family resources and a chosen profession which honored an avoidance of so-called "filthy lucre," to have survived reasonably well financially without ever having to follow typical male necessities of pursuing Money as though it were the earthly God.
I have much more de-coding to do here, including learning to become more skillful in my handling of business and money in a realistic and non-idolatrous way.
My last remaining major icon--at least of those which have yet emerged into consciousness, is: Female Good Graces. I have partially de-coded what I now see as the primal source of this long lasting idolatry, namely, its genesis in/with my birthing mother; I have also been somewhat successful in withdrawing powers projected onto female friends and acquaintances. Still I will automatically assume the Rescuing Prince stance when caught off guard; but I soon catch myself (literally!). However, Woman's Good Graces, remain, I occasionally recognize when I am thrown off balance as I was yesterday, an immensely powerful icon in my fortunately dwindling panorama of external idols.
More than all else that I can now see, including my remnants of Wealth Worship, I remain somewhat dictated, blindly determined by a continuing idolatry of Her Smile and a corresponding fear of Her Frown. I have de-coded them both in my mind's eye; still, absorbing this insight into my daily living commonly eludes me yet.
Will I find the faith for withdrawing these projections also? I hope so....
God, at first glance,
appears as a magician,
The Essence of Non-Reality.
God, on perusal
becomes a creator,
the ultimate in reality.
In the kingdoms of man
plagiarism is against the law;
original creations can be copyrighted.
In the kingdom of God
plagiarism is accepted;
pretending to be the Creator gets us exited.
who don't confuse themselves
They make stuff
like pies, paintings, & pliers;
they plagiarize ideas,
then preach or print,
and are delighted by the muses
who call them to build.
they leave to God.
TO MY PSYCHIATRIST
I met a wise man
who would not tell me
who let me think
he was more
until I discovered
of us are
he came empty handed
my already present
he laughed at me
for being "creative"
when I thought
get the joke
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