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Narmin Kamal's Philosophical Essay on Creativity

Essay on Creativity
(Based on different Sufi and Zen philosophies)
Narmin Kamal

It was 12 hours that I had been riding in the compartment of a train and observing my fellow-passenger. He was doing one and the same thing again and anew. There was a newspaper in the compartment. He was repeatedly reading the same news and putting the newspaper aside, then picking it up again to read as if there were nothing more to do. A person destined to sit in a compartment for a definite period of time couldn’t find any other possibilities of activity and that was why he was reading the newspaper again and again.

He cannot stop doing something, because he is an active person and cannot remain free of activity for too long, but he is not involved in generating ideas and is not being truly creative.

When he got tired of reading, he opened his bag, changed the places of items in the bag a little, closed his bag and sat down. After a little while he opened his bag again, regarded his stuff, then closed his bag again. Then reached out his hand for the newspaper. What is he doing? Why does he do that? What state of conscious is this?

Some people feel alive through engaging in lively activity, but being non-creative activities, they are as interesting as “a game of chess”, but with one's pieces in a fatal, doomed, losing location. Chess allows freedom within an area consisting of 64 checked-squares on the check-board. So, the moves are various and contain different combinations, but they are doomed to an end, they are doomed to a restriction.

Creativity is an uprising. It means to taste something new, refusing the pre-made moves accepted conditionally. Creativity is best defined as the making of something that hasn’t been made before.


It whould be more useful if we used a number of methodologies and conceptions of philosophical currents which are known to us from The History of Philosophy in definition of the concept of Creativity. For example, the conceptions of Poststructuralism and Postmodernism: keeping Poststructuralism in the back of one's mind, interpreting creativity as refusal of Structure, keeping Postmodern philosophy in the background it is possible to fancy the metaphoric model of the conception of Creativity as a Rhizomatic labyrinth.

If we look upon the activity of a human being as a complex of experiences, pieces of information, readings, dreams, combinations of actions, we see a simple labyrinth consisting of traditional structure in the background of a human being's life, as free of surprises as of the activity of the person going in the compartment of the train. This labyrinth has a centre and the ways leading to the centre. This man goes to work in the labyrinth, exactly speaking, in the structure inherited from others; in consequence his actions are similar to one another. The actions which have been done by this person and the words that he used to say have been performed by the other people repeatedly, just in the same compartment another person has turned over the pages of the newspaper, has opened his bag, has gazed at them, and closed...

Each of such a life, encyclopedia, library, register of items are like the collections of games. They are mixed up continuously in different combinations and regulated. Our daily conversation (how are you?, is everything ok with you?), our writing, even the style of our speech is not original, as we always copy something from somebody’s voice, words, style, etc. But a creative person cannot exist without putting himself beyond these accepted conditions. Consciously or unconsciously he/she keeps on living with these principles and thinks if someone does not repeat the already repeated actions, if someone carries out creative activity, it means that he exists.

His/her activity refuses the traditional structure as a frame, he/she too lives in the world of network, he/she too has a labyrinth, but this labyrinth is a rhizomatic labyrinth.

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s theoretical model, who spoke of the non-structural principle of the Unity or of the method of being polistructural and non-lined structure, of flexibility, of realisation of the potential of any internal creative possibility can be set as an example in explaining creative people. In the Rhizome model of these 2 philosophers we can successfully substitute the term Rhizome with the word Creativity. Deleuze and Guattari put forth there Rhizomatic model contradicting to the treelike model of binary contradictions such as vertical connection between the sky and the Earth, mono-direction of the development, determination of the development, right and left, up and down.

A plant has roots, its steam and branches, but Rhizome is such a root which does not possess a central point of origin, with edges and twigs belonging to the main root. It is a heterogeneous root having all the parts and branches spread out rather than stemming from a central location. Each of its parts, each of its points are associated with each other; but the category of point not being absolutely clear itself, the points in the sense of association to concrete topos are not fixed. In a metaphorical Rhizome structure, simultaneously the attitudes among its elements all have flexible free actions, as if they are swinging.

Deleuze and Guattari speaks of the priority of environment on the complex of elements containing this environment, in an another word, the priority of this context on the artefact. Both the authors liken Rhizomes to maps for their incompleteness of principle, consistency, succession, absence of border lines, sparse, uncertainty and liken Rhizome as the Swedish table grounding on many-numbered alternatives different from the limited choices of Adam’s breakfast consisting of two alternatives: to eat the fruit or not to eat it. The map is free in the choice of scale, there are ample facilities for endless games of indications. It is interesting that the word carte has a second meaning which means a card; here you are both an observer and the one to be observed.

Rhizomatic labyrinths, being different from ordinary labyrinths, have endless varieties which are free from conditions, tricks, emergencies and from strict reductions. Rhizome is like a menu as to the freedom of choice and as to the equalities of the variations. Rhizome being a complex matrix is a conception fitful to presumption of scattering of traditional imaginations on the principle of stable determination, concentrated by the semantic structure. To different Rhizome from multidimensional structure does not mean only the absence of the unity of semantic centre, it is also the absence of the whole, the unity of the central code.

The logic of an ordinary root is the logic of severe vector directed structure, but Rhizome is modeled as something unshaped unity and in many situations it is the analogy of unshaped environment as we learned from Synergetics. Rhizome is neither stable, nor non-stable, it is poly-stable, it is full of potential energy. Rhizomorph environments have the potential of immanent creating self-establishment and in this respect, it is not cybernetic (obeying the commands of the “centre”), but it is synergetic.

Rhizome has endless chaosmos pluralism, the existence of rhizomorph open environment can be understood as an endless dynamics. Among the virtual structures steady substituting one another not any of them can be stressed as prior from the point of view of axiology, autochthon in the sense of ontology and right in the meaning of interpretation.

Any moment, any line of Rhizome can be linked with the other lines which is impossible to determine beforehand. If the world in which the conception of Structure is in power is matching (suitable) to the Cosmos, then Rhizome is Chaosmos. Deleuze and Guattari appraised the Structure as a tracing-paper establishing its own, when it wants to create new. In this respect, the activities of the person in the train are structured.

To have many ways out, many possibilities is the unique point of Rhizome. Rhizome is powerful enough to crack, to break the word “impossible”, Rhizome is processual pluralism. Rhizome does not obey to any structure, or model. Thus, Rhizome means refusal from activities built on traditional structures, on logic grounded upon binary contradictions, on universal trust to existence of meta-code on the metadiscursive ideas, Rhizome is a supporter of substitution of vertical hierarchy connections with the horizontal and rhizomatic connections, also substitution the vertical monologues with horizontal dialogues. As it is known, Rhizome is mostly applied to the social environments, but as we think, the use of this model is obvious for the Study of Creativity.
The symbol of a tree is one of the most powerful universal structures of the human mind. And it is also one of the practises of the understanding the world. “The Life Tree”, “The Mind Tree”, “The Happiness Tree”, “World Tree”, “Genealogy, (family) Tree”, all these are the ways to create locations having centres and segments. The ancient shaman rising upper world by the way of World Tree, by the way of World River they go under our world and travel in the fatal limited location. This was there simple labyrinth. Tree, this archetypic symbol today too acts as the principle of the depth of human psychology. It was clear to Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan and other psychoanalysts that subconscious was treelike. The investigations of psychiatry knew that the symbol of World Tree is so useful in determining normal and pathological development that on it special Tree Test has been backgrounded. Thus, ancient archetype which is the psychological common basis for the contemporary people is one-dimensional, structural and moreover, simple structural.
The understanding of the total treelike structure of culture drove philosophy to the investigation of otherwise - non-tree-type mind manners, non-tree-type universal distribution in the 20-th century, this way together with the term of Rhizome discovered the mechanisms also useful for the Study of Creativity: anti-genealogic, heterogeneous approach, absence of genetic wasp, temporal changes…
Each way in the systems working with these mechanisms has the possibilities to cross the other. They have no centers, no peripheries. Such a structure is borderless. Travel in such labyrinth is the situation of eternal choice. The world of this labyrinth has not been set up till the end. Nor it has the aim to set up, it would mean a contradiction to its essence. Such systems don’t rely on rational understanding.
For a non-creative person consensus is inevitable. For a creative person the function of activity does not mean to be suitable, not to agree, but it is to create new one not being satisfied with a one which have already being created. A creative person is like “set of unregulated markers”, it is oppositional.
The specification of the model of creative person is the absence of conceptions of complete asymmetry, symmetry of principle, ways out and into the labyrinth, centre, border, etc.
The last song of Modernism and the lullaby of Postmodernism – the specific features of Poststructuralist aesthetics in many cases were associated with the move of attention on structure to its vice versa. Keeping the open text, the interpretation theories in the shade, one of the known concepts explaining the word “creative person” is for us an open system.
Pay attention: In popular music pieces we can see very much repeated parts. Vast majority of listeners like such parts and the clearest repeated part is often the chorus section. Mass loves reiterations. Creative person is an individual and “lives separately”.
We call milliards of people from the human being as a mono-sized person. Mono-sized person has come to the regress of its existence and has become exhausted. At present the mankind is in need of more rich, three-dimensional person. One of these dimensions is conscious, the second is mercy and the third is creativity. The type of person which we consider a new type person within the frame of this essay is the person possessing all these three dimensions. All these three features background on the freedom of action.
Let’s fancy for a minute that all the people are creative, or all the people have three dimensions.
One-dimensional person proved his/her disability. He/she could not create a happy life in the world and collapsed. The more how much the mankind has developed it has happened on the account of the people possessing all these three dimensions , there number is not too much. Can The Study of Creativity charge itself with the function of increasing the number of three-dimensional people? Can every person possess the model of individual development of all these three features?
I have got on my table tens of books written by different authors and different countries during the last 50 years devoted to creative psychology. I regard them. Each of creative person carries out his/her creative activity in different ways, even unknown to him/her, unlike other’s creativity, using the unique forms opened for him/her as the channels of the being. Consequently, the psychology of creativity becomes nothing more than statistics, collection of inquires, tests. In any case, not any non-creative person has turned to a creative one by these means. Most of the investigations devoted to creative psychology and philosophy of Creativity act as assumed events in comparison with creativity. Namely, creativity happens as an earthquake and theory tries to interpret it, to determine it, but none of the knowledge, which philosophy has about the creativity gives us possibility and ability to commit creativity, to stir an action which may come before the creativity.
Creativity is very paradoxical state of the conscious and existence. If we think that all the people in the world are creative, this state attracts our attention; if practical function of philosophy works, can we achieve such a utopian world, and how can we achieve it? In addition to this, without discovering a New World, by the means already existing in philosophy conceptions, being beyond the attention… Creative person is just the same, a creative person. Now we speak about non-creative persons.
Let’s think that there is an ordinary noncreative person before us. Conditionally, we may call him/her by the letter A and let’s try to make him/her (A) creative. To achieve this, giving a certain shape to the techniques of creativity of the Sufi philosophy we shall apply. Sufi believes that creativity is an activity by means of non-creativity. This idea in the Oriental wisdom sounds as the same with “ven-vu-vey” (activity in inactivity) of Lao-Tsu. This means to give agreement something to occur by you. Namely, a bridge has become a way of transition and we should agree a creative power to pass through this bridge. Creativity first of all demands to be freed from total tension, this is not a zero position, not a complete non-activity, it is simply to give a chance of relaxation. From this non-activity emerges great activity. But this great activity shall not be the product of your creativity. You shall simply be a transmitter. A certain product of creativity shall run through you, you are not the only author of it, it comes beyond you.
Mr. A having chosen a special field of activity, having understand the aim of being a creative person he must keep away from the responsibility of this, must relax and wait. Speaking more literary, we may conditionally compare it with the creation of child. Emerging from the factor of opening great creative channels by the way of apathy - non-activity S.Freud lay his patients on the bed during talking-cure. It was not for the comfort of this patient, it was a strategy. As soon as the patient assumed horizontal posture, that patient did not feel himself under the pressure of responsibilities. He won’t express his sub-consciousness until he felt himself completely free. If he continued being in the vertical posture which is more responsible and tense, he/she will judge himself/herself and say: whether to say this, or not? He will edit himself. When a person does not feel responsibility he/she is natural. If we said by the model of Tree this means going into the ground floor. The Sufi in order to open the eye of Basirat (Arabian word: to see the truth by means of heart or soul, similar to Intuition, clairvoyance) they believed in the power of these techniques: you should go down in order to go up. This can also be named as the process of silence, in this states conformed the extreme activity and the extreme relaxation. These two contradictions poles oppose each other. The paradox of creativity begins to show itself. In the extreme activity extreme relaxation – great activity operates on the great surface, but in the depth nothing occurs. There is relaxation and silence – obscurity. Creative silence is extremely active, this is variable quickness, simplicity, spontaneous, freedom, our personal role and our personality stands at a certain degree in the shade, it surrenders to the power which is not ours, this power creates inspiration by our own selves.
The fact that A can be creative in any measurable conditions is possible by means of this or that techniques with which he works on himself. The thing is not that, A or any other person in the world may or may not be by this simplicity shall become a painter; if any person becomes a painter this should complicate our world, our world is in need of shepherds, book-keepers and others. But it is possible that, any person may be a creative one. In this A has a mistaken spared potential. A – who wants to be a creative person as to the understanding of Sufi must conceive that having the wish to be a creative person he should not care for fame, a real creative person is not anxious to be famous. In creativity you should see love. Someone may not know it, newspapers may not publish your photos, history may not pay attention to you, this is not important. Creativity has got an inner value. If you have an ambition to gain fame while being engaged in creativity you are not a creative person, you are a politician and you have not relax properly. If you gain popularity, it is good, if you don’t, it is also good, but this must not be a criterion. Criterion is something with which you get a pleasure or you don’t from which you have done.
If A calls himself noncreative he/she shall be non-creative because believe is not a simple issue; it is something with which you open or close doors. If A believes that he/she is non-creative, he/she shall close the door of creativity, because believe prevents from all possibilities of mysterious creative current, it always refuses it. Every person has been taught that he/she is non-creative, only a few people have been accepted as creative beings – painters, inventors, writer and etc. the amount of them can be more or less a million. But it is clear that, every person is born with creative potential. All children are creative beings, but the elder people kill their belief and impose them wrong belief. They divert them from creativity, make them economically and politically claimed persons. When claim comes, creativity leaves. Because during the creativity he/she is anxious about when he/she will get a Nobel Prize, which makes him/her tense. Being in this thought he feels himself always in future, but a creative person has to be at present time. For three-dimensional person to exist and to be creative have synonym meanings.
If A is not the first at school or university, if the pictures that you have drawn have not amazed the other people, if your neighbors have called the police for the violin you have played etc. don’t lose your inspiration and don’t agree with a fact that you are non-creative.
A creative person creates his/her own dignity and criteria the structure of life is unless we are known, we are accepted we shall feel ourselves nothing. The threat of to be nothing has set up a blacksmith’s tool on our thoughts and works. To be accepted, to be known have become more important than the job itself. But when a creative person does not work for being accepted, but simply he gets pleasure from his creativity, the possibilities of creativity are open before him. In the talking-cure of creativity Sufi philosophy says: “A”, don’t beg to be accepted, in case if you are accepted, take it easy, but don’t fight for it. Your parents, your teachers always impose into the mind of you (children) that you should be accepted, you should gain respect. This is a strategy of an enemy to alls creativity. The love to be accepted makes A dependant from the others, some others have created the laws for the others and A being the state of dependant from the other’s buries his/her free individual potentials of Creativity in the land while being still alive. A creative person always tries to do something in a “wrong” way. If you always do everything in a right way you shall never be a creative person, because a right method is a method created by the other people. A true way means that of course you shall do something, you shall be a producer, not a creative person. The difference between a producer and a creative person: a producer knows how to produce and what to produce, but a creative person does not know a right way to do it or he/she opposes it, so, repeatedly he looks for it in different fields. Many time gets into a wrong directions, but when he/she learns it, he is rich and powerful. If he/she knew how to do right he could not do the right. A life moral:
In a school a teacher says to pupils that they should draw the saint family. After some time when the teacher collects the pictures he sees that many of the children have drawn up traditional pictures consisting of 3 persons: Josef, Mary, Jesus. At this time the teacher asks one of the children who has drawn quite a different picture in which he had depicted an airplane with 4 people having put their heads outside the windows of the plane. The teacher asks:
- I know the three that you have drawn: Josef, Mary, Jesus, but who is the 4-th?
- This is Ponty Pilot.
This is creativity. He has created something new. He has done it, because he is a child. But A would not do it for fear of being looked a fool. If we say in literary way again, creativity must not be frightened from being punished as a lover. You should never apologize for your creativity. Just the same, we should not make fun of a lover and judge him/her.
The system of education teaches the children different subjects, language, logic, theory, law and all other proper ways and damages the right hemisphere of the brain. As a result of this child does not become wild, he/she becomes a citizen. He/she races with other children who know the proper ways. More often he/she interested in power, money. His/her right hemisphere gradually becomes clumsy and only acts while he/she is sleeping… When right hemisphere acts as an aim and the left hemisphere being as a means, saving each other - can A be freed from being one-dimensional and get the possibilities of becoming multidimensional person?
A, what should you do for being a creative person? You should correct the “wrong” sides of the things the society has done with you, you must change it. In this case, you shall again feel the vibration that you felt from the very beginning. A must melt the words: “must be” and “must not be”. He/she needs freedom and space, sky and stars. Only then he/she will have an enormous spontaneous power.
The determination of the conception of creativity such a way and reveal of its value remind us the following idea of Albert Einstein. If while speaking about an object that you are going to create the people around you are not in amazement and if they do not call this foolishness, it is not worth create such a thing.
The word creativity should not only been associated with Picasso and Einstein… Ones having shown Moscow to an architect with pride they ask him:
- Our city really has got nice architecture, hasn’t it?
The architect answers:
- It is nice, but it is timid architecture. Because much (!) attention has been paid to observe standards and cliches…
Let’s remember Fischerandom Chess. Once after the formulation of all the forms and moves of the classic chess, the 11-th world chess champion Fisher in order to increase the variations of the moves had offered that in the 64 squared fatal location it is necessary to bring innovation in the distribution of the traditional distribution of the chess figures, the figures should not be distributed by the systematization of the rook, knight, bishop…, but they should be distributed by any other desired way. This gives to player the possibilities of 25 million beginning positions. This offer on the transition of the modernist stage on chess was not accepted. If the train did not stop after 12 hours, if it continued going forever, in what way the actions of my fellow passenger would continue?!...
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