Creativity and Spiritual India

Creativity is misnamed

At first glance, it would seem that we create fiction with our imaginations. This is particularly obvious with fantasy or science fiction stories, where there are worlds, characters and abilities not seen in real life (unless you are a magician or super-hero). But really, all fiction is a creation of our imaginations. Right? What to speak of just fiction, we are creative in engineering, business, teaching… everywhere. Right?
No human has ever been creative. Not really.
Here’s the thing: to create is to bring something into existence, but we just recombine things. Think about it: a visual artist’s rendering of a fantastic world is based on the real world. Their far-out floating mountains are like real mountains, but floating. You know, like stuff floats in water. You’ve seen that, right? A flying, fire-breathing dragon is a combination of a few ideas–I’d say a serpent, a bat and fire–all combined together and scaled up. A science fiction author might place her story on another planet, where there is all water and no land. What has she created? A planet, like the one we walk on, but distant and covered with water. We have oceans here, so she conceived of that planet having only oceans. What has she created from scratch?
If an author is not writing science fiction or fantasy, their setting is not so obviously imagined. If a story set in Florence, Italy, is to be convincing, the author really ought to spend some time there getting the setting right. Their ‘creativity’ in that case is to present Florence with accuracy and flare. But what did they really create?
‘Creativity’ is really a particular recombination of existing elements, just like making a building out of stone, metal and so on. The ingredients are all there already; we’re just putting it together in different ways.
When we write about characters who are aliens or alien-like in their views, we base them on people in this world. We may employ different character traits that we’ve seen, but in a combination that we’ve never known in a single person. Like a really jolly, funny hermaphrodite who happens to be a serial killer. An odd combination to be sure, but really just combining existing things. Or a person who likes brussels sprouts, cricket, moto-derbies and romance novels.
Mind you, if someone wants to call this innovative recombination of things ‘creativity,’ hey, that’s fine with me. Most words just have the meanings we give them. To be sure, it is an amazing and mystical ability. How and why would such an ability evolve? It is beyond the understanding of modern science that we should express ourselves in such diverse and imaginative ways. I find this ‘creativity’ to be a tool to understand myself and the world, and to try to share with others what I am thinking and feeling. By making a world with characters and envisioning their struggles and realizations in the course of a story, I feel I can share with others a little bit of what my ideals and dreams are. It’s an inspiring way to connect with and appreciate the world and cosmos that we find ourselves in, and maybe even learn something of its source. So although we don’t create anything new, thank God for creativity!

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One response

  1. Pingback: Everything is STORY | B.T. Lowry

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