Sunny skies? God? Satan? Or a blade of grass?
The first time I discovered finger paint I thought I was in heaven.
The stuff is wonderful. It’s gooey and fun and no matter which way my finger tips move across the paper, I’m successful. The multi-sensory image of playing with it at the age of five is my first memory of feeling creative. The wanton thrill of messing about with art had a visceral impact on me. I created color and texture, and best of all, I felt the picture was all mine. What delight.
Creativity. I didn’t have words for it back then, but I do now. It involves a wild abandonment of worldly constraints, a diving headlong into the abyss, a following of the heart and best of all, it involves the purest of joys. It’s intoxicating. I swear, if we nurtured more creativity in people, we would have fewer lost souls, and less alcoholism and drug use. There is no cleaner addiction. The act of creating enhances our humanity. It connects us. It heals us. Ultimately, it creates and re-creates us.
But where does it come from? When I’m creating I honestly don’t care. But my rational mind can’t leave it there. I wonder.
“Most ancient cultures, including thinkers of Ancient Greece, Ancient China, and Ancient India, lacked the concept of creativity, seeing art as a form of discovery and not creation .” Wikipedia
But as a former finger painter I know it’s not all imitation. It’s larger than that. Later mankind decided it involved divine intervention. After all something that feels that good had to come from above. Right?
In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, creativity was the sole province of God; humans were not considered to have the ability to create something new except as an expression of God’s work. A concept similar to that of Christianity existed in Greek culture, for instance, Muses were seen as mediating inspiration from the Gods. Romans and Greeks invoked the concept of an external creative “daemon” (Greek) or “genius” (Latin), linked to the sacred or the divine. However, none of these views are similar to the modern concept of creativity, and the individual was not seen as the cause of creation until the Renaissance. It was during the Renaissance that creativity was first seen, not as a conduit for the divine, but from the abilities of “great men“.” (Ibid)
So now we have more ideas to play with. I like to think of them as a hand in a card game. The Joker card claims that creativity is imitating; the Queen of Spades claims muses whisper inspiration from ancient gods; the Jack of Diamonds claims it’ all the work of daemons and geniuses acting as intermediaries between humans and the divine; and the Renaissance card, the King of Diamonds, claims that it comes from the abilities of gifted men.
Does it take the gods? Shall we dance naked at midnight to invoke the muses? Can only the gifted create? The answers aren’t satisfying.
I hang on to the Ace of Hearts and claim creativity comes from the heart of man. The heart connected and perhaps indistinguishable at times from her world and her sense of the divine. Is that cheating? I don’t think so. I think creativity is larger and more complex than our any of our ancestors thought, perhaps larger than we are able to comprehend.
My two cents.
Where do you think your creativity comes from?
Photo Credit: School Paints and Painting