Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Creativity, Fetal Pigs and Madness

At that moment when I put my foot on the step the idea came to me, without anything in my former thoughts seeming to have paved the way for it, that the transformations I had used to define the Fuchsian functions were identical with non-Euclidean geometry.

- Jules H. Poincare


Okay, for those who don't know who Poincare is, well, let's just call him a French guy who could not get laid when he was in school. Actually, he is the first person to discover a chaotic deterministic system which laid the foundations of modern chaos theory. He both excelled in the arts and sciences, and basically he also believed that when you let your mind wander, you may unleash your creative juices. Okay, there are a few things wrong with seeing the world his way – he was a genius, and you cannot say that his views are necessarily all of our views. He and, let's say, Paris Hilton, probably don't share too many things. Though I am wondering how many people have shared body fluids with her.

You know, when I was growing up, creativity was not rewarded. Think about it; it was probably the same way in your schools as well. When in elementary school, for instance, we were told to color in the lines. Wouldn't it be more creative to expand the lines sometimes, or help the lines express themselves, if you are highly creative.

When in middle and high school, I remember learning about "writing," and extremely creative discipline. With a mere 26 letters in the English language, you can create things as diverse as erotica, literary reviews, and poetry with no capital letters and diaries. But when we learned how to write, we were first told to give an outline of what we were going to write and then expand the outline, eventually yielding a story. How creative is that? No very. How stifling is that? Very.

And for those of us who wrote good outlines in school, we got our A's and may not have ever been very creative.

There was never a genius without a tincture of madness.

- Aristotle


Madness, like creativity, is not rewarded in school. When you take your fetal pig, talk to it like it can understand you, and sympathize with its plight, the science department does not give you extra credit. When you insist that another person inside your head answered for you when you littered your answer with obscenities, you are not rewarded. I actually think the Aristotle quote was lifted for dialog for "Pirates of the Caribbean," though I cannot prove it.

I leave you today with the opening line of "Auguries of Innocence", by William Blake:

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

16 comments:

Advizor said...

I find in the entire idea of being "creative" to be a very stifling label. Not only are we told to color within the lines, outline our writings, and in fine form and structure in our thoughts, we are told that some people are creative, and that some people are not. Most frequently we are in the category of people that are not. The kids from drama club, art class, and others with outgoing personalities get the label early as being creative, and they are allowed to be odd or weird, fun, dramatic, and express themselves in ways that most of us would never get away with. Once we are labeled as “not creative" we are then stuck in an expectation that we toe the line, that we are good kids and that we don't do anything out of the ordinary.

I ramble on-and-on about this on my own page, so I wont' take up any more space here.

Thanks Leesa, for your daily shot of creativity. And, for the record, my fetal pig was named Gus-Gus, and we talked to him long after he was gone...

Leesa said...

advizor: at least your fetal pig was not labeled Wilber!

Prata said...

ping: oh, im ready for the upcoming school year
End[gone]: i dont think it will be any different
zxaxox: thats why you have to take a shotgun and MAKE it different.

I hated school for just that very reason, creativity was stifled.

thistle said...

I remember in 5th grade when I had the only teacher in my life who was just mean -- Iago mean. In an idle minute (hour?) I made a pencil drawing of a Vietnamese villiage using the top of my desk as the canvas. No borders here -- I used the whole thing. My brother was in Viet Nam at the time in the USMC.

She went ape sh*t and railed against me and wrote a gotcha, now your deep in trouble note home. My father was a good guy, I was always answerable to him, and he generally supported the various authorities I came in contact with. This time though, he wrote back asking her if she would like him to provide the glass to put over the desk to preserve the artwork.

That was nice. NOt sure what it has to do with your post other than that sometimes we do get support.

best,

thistle

ps -- love the Blake, one of my faves.

Advizor said...

Wilber went on my BLT.

QUASAR9 said...

Well Leesa talking of getting the juices flowing, I must confess you are certainly tickling my funny spot.
But let me stay sober and boring today, yep sorry to disappoint but I am not always into cheap dirty humour
I confess, Father I have sinned:
I am one of those who tries to draw inside the lines, and I do not humour children who scribble all over their drawing books with crayons or felt tips. Scribbling is not art, not being disciplined does not make one artistic
We often humour too much drunks and useless bums for the sake of art, when really what they are is drunken pigs ... end of story, their art a blindfolded child could master.
On your second point
"we were first told to give an outline of what we were going to write and then expand the outline, eventually yielding a story. How creative is that? No very. How stifling is that? Very."
The only way to be cohesive.
One can ramble aimlessly thru the pages, but unless someone places them in some sort of order, they will not attract many readers ...
And of course it depends who one wants to be read by, I write for myself, but if you write for an audience, youy'll get the audience you deserve. You can't later complain about the audience, or you lose the audience you were writing for.
The same dilemma faces all our life
Who we befriend
Who we work for or trade with
who we bed with and/or partner
Funny that even your Brit Spearses though lusted by many would be dumoped aby a Timberlake, is it any surprise some become Paris Hiltons, with no scrupples (shame) or like Maddona despite the fame, hard women, hard to hurt, avoid the pain.
And now, must depart lest I ramble on&on like some old fart ...
though I feel with you I could get cozy - well maybe even for a week or two ... but I fear you would soon bore, or who knows maybe even ask for more and more.
Here's looking at ya, loving ya, smiling at ya

Leesa said...

prata: your blog was acting weird today.

thistle: what a wonderful story. What a wonderful Dad.

advizer: and you squatched Charlette!

quasar: actually, some people can write rather coherently without an outline. Didn't Mozart compose complete pieces in his head and then put them down on paper (yeah, genious can be so different than the norm, but it is possible).

QUASAR9 said...

Hi Leesa,
oops not more disappointment I hope
Classical music doesn't move me
i even like my Jazz melodic. lol!

but jotting things straight from your head onto a piece of paper is how we 'capture' inspiration - but we still need to order our thoughts
if not sooner or later to be cogerent melodious & harmonious

Is Mozart melodious, do you think?

GW Mush said...

Yea Leesa, no complaining about your audience:)

::: puts Paris Hilton's bodily fluids in squirt gun and squirts Leesa::: hehehe

P.S. No outline used, please do not republish without my permission and stuff, thank you for your cooperation.

Advizor said...

I think that a quasar9 is missing the point entirely, and reflects the attitude that dampens so much creativity in the world. I agree that the final product, whether it is music or writing, must follow a coherent structure that allows the audience to enjoy the work for what it is supposed to be. The problem is that we enforce structure and order too early in the process. Most people do not think it a three-point outline when they first have a thought for a story. Most authors do not know how Act I will work out until they have written Act III, or perhaps some may work based on a single idea for a character, or even a snippet of a conversation that they envision in their head. A painter may start with a fleeting vision of a color, a motion, an arrangement of flowers, and a dancer, while walking through the park with her boyfriend; they think "hey, I wonder what it would look like if I did this?"

Creativity is stifled when we force people to start at the beginning and work toward the end. I believe this especially applies to children learning how to color, learning how to sing, or learning how to paint or write.

My niece is a wonderful singer and she is developing quite a talent for all kinds of music. However, two years ago all she had was enthusiasm. She didn't have talent, rhythm, or the ability to carry a tune in a bucket. If her parents would have told her that she had to learn how to sing before she could sing, she would now sit silently at our family parties and we would all be worse off for it.

Most of us will never paint a picture that will hang on a wall, we will not write a book that is found on Amazon, nor will we sing in the local concert hall. We will however, write letters, doodle in church for our kids, tell stories at bedtime, and make-up fanciful tales for our boss about what we did during lunch and why our shirt ended up on inside-out. This creativity, this personal kind of creativity, flows best when we have learned that it is okay to draw outside the lines and be a little incoherent once in awhile.

For those of us who don't rely on our creativity for a paycheck, creativity should be an open ended source of fun, expression, and joy. I doubt that Jackson Pollock's mother ever told him to stay inside the lines, and I think he did quite well for himself.

(and further more, I don't trust anyone who doesn't like classical music. It's like saying you like to write, but hate the alphabet.)

GW Mush said...

outlines piss me off and stifle my creativity.

QUASAR9 said...

Hi advizor, not missing the point
expressing my view
would you like someone to come and spray graffitti over your walls, your garage doors or window in the name of 'creativity' - or would you then presume to stifle the graffity artists creativity - and send him/her to go crap on someone else's lawn or patch/space.

I agreed with Leesa that spontaneity and inspiration are straight from the head, as I dash or reach for a pen or pencil to capture my thoughts before they evaporate thru some macroscopic blackhole - as if in fear that perhaps they'll never return again

The same with actions, some people want their metaphorical cake with the cherry on top NOW and everyday - no wonder Xmas has lost its sparkle. Like Father Xmas cum-ming once a year, the magic was in the anticipation, Xmas used to give something to look forward to

GW Mush said...

Quasar is stifling my creativity.

mal said...

we did not have fetal pigs...we had bald cats...or as one wag put it "shaved pussys"

I have done a great deal of technical writing over the years. My work is concise, clear, broadly understandable and boring as hell. It is not creative and it has actually stifled my attempts at creative fiction. I am so good at it that I think I understand what "muscle bound" really means and feels like.

Leesa said...

quasar: I love classical music.

gw: if you have extra Hilton fluids, I would sell them on Ebay!

advizer: I think different people approach creativity differently. Seems like you have had experience with creativity.

mal: thanks for the comment - I used it as the principal part of today's post!

Advizor said...

Quasar9 - I’m not sure that allowing kids to color outside the lines, write stories out of sequence, or choose blue for grass, silver for sky, and orange for eye color leads to vandalism, but you seem to be implying that juvinile deliquency can be solved through good Crayola technique and a well-honed thesis statement.

And what in the world is that Santa Clause reference all about?