Sunday, 7 February 2010


I keep coming back to the idea of creativity as response. But what kind of response? Not all responses are helpful. If you read the Tao Te Ching, a very old Chinese text, the idea of not responding comes up continually. From a different, but related, perspective, Jon Kabat-Zinn suggests that  'we routinely and unknowingly waste an enormous amount of energy in reacting automatically and unconsciously to the outside world, and to our own inner experience'. Kabat-Zinn pioneered the use of mindfulness as a technique for overcoming stress-related illnesses in the 1970s, and since then he and others have been using ideas from Buddhist psychology/ metaphysics in health care with quite dramatic results.  He suggests that mindfulness can be seen as a lens which 'takes the scattered and reactive energies of your mind and focusses them into a coherent source of energy for living, for problem-solving...'. Presumably, in a mindful state, a person still responds, but the implication is that they respond in certain ways, and not in others.

One way of seeing creativity is as a biological attribute of life itself. For human organisms, the capacity to respond creatively is an essential survival mechanism which makes it possible for the system to continually adjust to threats and opportunities in its environment. From this perspective it might be argued that the desire to create, the urge to make, is simply a basic biological function that emerges into human awareness in a variety of ways, accompanied by particular emotional colours and flavours. For those of us who no longer have to make things to simply eat or otherwise survive, those colours and flavours might only nudge occasionally, or might have faded into the smallest possible whisper.  

When you feel the inky coldness of  perylene green (1) creeping up your foot from the toe you've just dipped into the algae of your mind, what kind of responses might be positive and productive, and which might be negative and obstructive?

(1) the green of the image in this post

1 comment:

  1. This idea of "response" is really that interesting I think. However, I don’t really think it goes far enough. Better I think is "exploration" since I think the idea of response is one which still presupposes that there's something to be said - a response to be made. Exploration, on the other hand, leaves room for unselfconscious play and experimentation, ideally with a finely tuned sensitivity to serendipity and discovery. Of course, it’s still responding but without being consciously aware of the fact. Not far different from your thoughts on emergence really I guess.



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