How does the genius of Creativity come about?
The Act of Creation, The Child and the Fool.
The first time a heard of Arthur Koesler’s book: The Act of Creation, I was reading Parsifal and the search for the Grail. In it, the author explained how the well-known writer, had produced this very thick volume, which tackled a problem that no one had tackled before, and it was quite relevant to the understanding of the lessons learnt by our round table hero.
The problem was this:
There are certain people whom we call “creative”. Some are scientists, some are doctors, some are poets, painters, musicians – and they have one thing in common:
They are able to create something different, something which is not an exact repetition, but new and original.
Civilization, and that is progress itself, would not be possible without creative beings.
It is then a question well worth asking:
How does this genius of creativity come about? How can we harness it?
Koesler took the trouble to collect as many facts as he could about the conditions under which “creative” men find or discover something new. Here are the three important things he discovered and the answer to our questions:
1. Like a Child: Seeing with eyes of wonder
There is no difference between the scientist or the inventor or the artist - The act of creation is the same, whether it is the invention of a gadget, or producing a symphony, or discovering a secret of nature. In other words:
The kind of ideas we get does not just depend on our training or education. The “how” of our ideas is a kind of “going back” to a more primitive or childlike frame of mind.
A “creative” person can look at a thing he has known for years, as if he/she saw it for the first time, as if it were something new, fresh – something never seen before.
As long as we feel “familiar” with something – we say, “Oh, I have seen it, I know it…” As we do, while waiting at the lights, not even noticing small new elements in the known context, but is it truly a known context?
The problem here is we’ve stopped paying attention. We need to create new paths to those familiar things to get new ideas, a fresh twist about “it”, what ever “it” is we “know.”
2. Creativity = Curiosity
Just as a child would be interested in a new toy, the “creative” being is wholeheartedly interested in the “new thing”.
Curious people tend to be smarter, more creative and more successful. We were all born curious, but as we grow old, we tend to become less active explorers or our environment. Without real concern, real interest, nothing grows. If we nurture it, Curiosity is the one habit we can thrive with.
3. The Fool’s use of Dreamlike Imagination
“Gentlemen, the first thing you have to learn is to dream.”
F.A. Kekulé. Scientist.
“Creatives” use waking dreaming about the object of their curiosity, as a child would daydream and invent all kinds of imaginary things about something he has seen or heard.
You have to go back (To childhood) to go forward with a new idea. It is like trying to make a big leap, like the figure of the Fool seems to make in the divination cards of Tarot. It’s an adventure leap into the unknown, and as C. Jung puts it: “No one ever found wisdom without also being a fool.”
When Parsifal (name meaning the Naïve fool), is presented for the first time with the Grail, he dared not give power to his curiosity and ask the right questions. Loosing the opportunity of getting the Grail and making his journey a life long lesson untill he was finally ready to encounter the Grail again.
Parsifal’s journey was in the first place a possible one because of his childlike heart; and it’s the attained wisdom of trusting on that quality that gets him the prize.
In all creative people, there is something that remains childlike, or to use other words, a “pure fool”. And it is this child in them, this pure fool that makes them creative.
So for us:
A fresh outlook, a lively genuine interest, and free play of imagination
– That is the recipe.