Tuesday 3 May 2022

True personal creativity is only possible when originating from the True Self, in alignment with already-existing divine creation

When I think rigorously about what is required for 'true creativity' by a Man, then it seems that a pretty extensive set of pre-requisites must be in place; such that true creativity is only possible to some people, at some times and places in history. 

Human creativity is possible because of divine creativity: we dwell 'in' God's creation; so, for a Man's creativity to be real entails first that it comes from the Man himself - from his unique personal 'self'; and second that it harmonizes with divine creation. 

If creativity does not come from the Man himself, then what we have is just an instance of divine creation. 

Through most of history (in most places) Men did not claim to be creative, because their experience was that creativity came from God (or the gods). This was sometimes called inspiration; reflecting that it was breathed-in from some other source - from the divine, from the muses or whatever. 

So most of creativity in the past was not the product of an individual person - because the individual was merely a conduit for the divine; a tool or instrument of the divine. 

This kind of creativity is therefore real - and it harmonizes with divine creation - but it is not personal, its creative aspect is of-God, not of-Man. 

On the other hand; every-thing (every thought or action) which comes from a person innately, from his Real (hence divine) Self; is not of God, is indeed personal - but it is not creative unless it harmonizes-with and adds-to divine creation. 

Thus, most things we do from our-selves is merely personal, is not from God but instead a product of a Man; and it is Not creative. It is indeed anti-creation. 

In other words; of itself, that which originates from Man will Not, of itself, be creative - because it will be individual and out-of-harmony with divine creation. It will therefore be (to a greater of lesser degree) damaging or subversive to divine creation. 

In order, therefore, for a Man to be genuinely creative; he must be sufficiently an independent agent that he can generate thought/action from-himself (rather than simply being a conduit channeling divine creation); and top be genuinely creative, he must also make the choice to align himself with divine creation by a voluntary act. 

All independent acts of a Man that are aligned with divine creation are therefore instances of true personal creativity - but the magnitude of achievement varies between a world-historical genius; and someone 'minor' or altogether unknown, who has lesser ability and application but who nonetheless does 'make a difference' (and an eternal difference) - but a small difference, yet in a positive direction. 

Thus all acts of true personal creativity add-to divine creation, but the amount by which they add to divine creation varies hugely in accordance with the 'stature' of individuals. 

The business of aligning with divine creation is what happens when a scientist is devoted to 'the Truth' or when an artist is devoted to 'Beauty' - both of these are types of alignment with the Reality of divine creation. 

The long period of attunement, learning, practice and preparation which leads-up to a work of genius is exactly this process of alignment. Once the individual is aligned with divine creation; then his spontaneous creativity will contribute to overall creation. 

This model also explains why recent generations of supposedly creative people have the form of the 'evil genius' - in that these are people of great ability who are Not aligned with the Reality of divine creation; and who therefore inevitable do harm to creation. 


Francis Berger said...

This post resonates deeply with me and ticks all of the boxes concerning my own understanding of creativity. It also mirrors much of what thinkers like Berdyaev have expressed on the subject.

Though it is one of the most important endeavors a Christian can undertake here and now, I feel most Christians are immensely confused about creativity actually means and how it connects to true freedom (spiritual freedom). I hope this post helps clarify some of the misconceptions.

One misconception is the idea that alignment with God is just obedience, and that any human creativity that emerges from this obedience is merely God working creatively through the human agent. Put simply, I'm just doing what God orders me to do.

I think alignment is more akin to recognizing truth, beauty, and virtue and freely choosing to work within that reality through the understanding that this alignment is what activates and "frees" the True Self.

In this sense, creativity is not about doing what God orders me to do, but more about God patiently waiting to see what I can add to Creation from my own unique person. If creativity is just following orders, it is not really free. If God is simply using me as a conduit for His creativity, then my creativity is not really mine. In both cases, nothing I add to Creation can surprise God.

On the flip side, if creativity comes from my own agency and freedom, then I have the opportunity to add something to Creation that may even surprise God (positively). Moreover, if creativity is well-aligned with Creation, then God may choose to participate in the creative act. I think this is the essence of co-creation. Berdyaev refers to it as theandric freedom -- the ultimate freedom and creativity of working "with" God.

Another misconception is the notion that creativity is limited to the arts or science. Jesus was neither an artist nor a scientist, but He was infinitely creative. Creativity apply everywhere -- relationships, choices, problem-solving, thinking, communicating, acting, etc.

Perhaps the best way to understand the depth of creativity is to recognize how it is negatively utilized by those opposed God and Creation. Those who practice "demonic" creation are not interested in adding to Creation, but "subtracting" from it. The recent push to redefine realities such as biological sex is a good example of this demonic "creation" (which is actually destruction).

Bruce Charlton said...

@Frank - Glad to hear this resonates with you.

This simple explanatory scheme helps explain why it was really only from around 1800 (the time of Goethe and Schiller, and Beethoven; and in 'Germany' especially) that the modern idea of a creative genius became clearly differentiated and articulated. Earlier geniuses would tend to attribute their creativity to external sources, and I presume they were reporting accurately.

From the later 1700s, some Men began to feel that the primary creative source was within themselves; and then were faced with a choice of how to 'direct' it.