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Creativity

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  • Joel A. Wendt
    Dear Jeff, I suspect you might be confusing some inner facts with each other. Let me see if I can shed some light. For starters, we are having a discussion
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 26 2:23 PM
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      Dear Jeff,

      I suspect you might be confusing some inner facts
      with each other. Let me see if I can shed some light.

      For starters, we are having a discussion without
      really a definition of what we mean by "creativity".
      Now personally I don't like "definitions" in
      themselves, but my experience of communication is that
      often people use the same term and mean different
      things - so in this case one question is what do you
      mean by creativity, what does *man mean, what do I
      mean.

      Some people might think of creavtivity in terms of
      a "product". Something is "creative" if it produces
      something new, or beautiful, or whatever is the
      criteria. But the central "judgment" is does a certain
      kind of "product" appear.

      However, in the discussion, you and *man have been
      speaking of something more inward, something going on
      inside the soul before it emerges into concrete
      existence in some form. At one point you used the word
      "spontaneous", which I think is a very crucial concept
      and quite relevant to the discussion.

      [I would like here to insert a slight aside - in
      Tomberg's Meditations, Arcanum XV The Devil, the German
      anthroposophists are accused of having sacrificed their
      "creative elan" by too much study of Lucifer, Ahriman
      and the Asuras - that is by drawing too close to Evil
      we kill something inside us.]

      From my personal experience I put the question of
      "creativity" in a slightly different context. The
      question I ask myself in regards my inner life is
      whether "new thought" is arising. Even if I am
      approaching something quite familiar, does the
      character of my thinking allow me to see it, in the
      moment, in a fresh way; or, have I simply put what I am
      experiencing (either purely inwardly, or outwardly
      through the senses) into some alreadly elaborated boxes
      (sets of conceptions previously thought).

      Many years experience has taught me to always
      "kill" (Steiner's "sacrifice of thoughts"; Tomberg's
      "learning to think on our knees") what has been past
      thought (as often as I can, for certainly I have no
      "perfection" in this). It is a very subtle experience
      to be awake inwardly enought to notice whether the flow
      of concepts is emerging in a fresh way, or whether I
      have gone to sleep inside, in a certain kind of way,
      and what is being thought is just old habits or points
      of view. When I catch myself in the old, I silence it,
      and pause "thought", as it were, holding the thinking
      on the verge of concept formation without quite tipping
      over.

      It is here, in this space of silent waiting, that
      fresh thought arises. Often it will be not much, but
      sometimes it is a whole new way of seeing something
      that has been viewed by habit for a long period of
      time. This fresh "insight" then often leads to whole
      streams of words and inner dialogue, or in many cases,
      a complete new paragraph or series of paragraphs, if I
      am writing at the time of the fresh thinking. There is
      more that could be said here, for I have written often
      of it in my writings on my website.

      Now is this "creativity"? I think for many people,
      who do not have such a habit as I have described, but
      only occassionally allow for "fresh thought" to arise,
      they would experience this occassional "flash of
      insight" as "creative". Certainly it is "spontaneous",
      yet one can cultivate the inner life so that this
      "spontaneous" is the regular condition.

      Of course, as you have pointed out, there are also
      feelings and impulses of will to consider, for the soul
      is more than just "thought". *man is basically
      correct, I believe, in his interest in "objectivity"
      and in the related discipline of being able to see past
      our sympathies and antipathies. I wrote a whole essay
      on this subject (pragmatic moral psychology) a couple
      years ago. But there is a flaw there in what he says
      (again in my view), a flaw quite common in
      anthroposophical circles).

      This flaw is connected to two concepts which *man
      places as central, namely truth and logic. Reality is
      more than just "true", it is also "beautiful" and
      "good". As to logic, well Tomberg discusses in many
      places, both in his anthroposophical writings and in
      Meditations, on the distinctions between formal logic,
      organic logic and moral logic. I leave you to read up
      on this if you are interested.

      So the question of "creativity" and truth and logic
      also has to include the problems of the beautiful and
      the good, the organic and the moral. To focus on the
      first (truth and logic), as if by themselves they
      encompassed the situation, would lead to a
      one-sidedness that can often be found in
      anthroposophical circles where everything is dominated
      by many professionally and academically trained
      personalities. Especially in social situations, where
      one is dealing with other human beings, to merely see
      truth or logic as central is to miss much that is
      actually happening. (I have also written on this on my
      website, in Listening to the World Song).

      In treating the beautiful we are dealing with
      feeling, and with the life of imagination; while in
      treating the good we are dealing with willing, and with
      the life of devotion, reverence and love. Of course,
      as many know from experience, it is really when we act
      out of our heart, that wonderful locus of balance in
      the soul, that thoughts become informed with
      wholeness. Truth and logic, on their own, lead to a
      kind of cold sterility in world view and, most
      crucially, in social relations. When we love the
      object of knowledge, then something else entirely
      emeges in the life of thought. So objectivity, in and
      of itself, can be quite dangerous if it is not
      "integrated" with other impulses and qualities.

      There is a wonderful adage from the near East which
      goes: There are three gates to speech: is it true, is
      it kind, is it necessary. A thought which cannot pass
      all three gates is not to be spoken.

      Hopefully this has helped the discussion.

      warm regards,
      joel
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