Re: Creativity [was Re: extropian enemies lists]

From: Robert Bradbury (
Date: Sun Jan 09 2000 - 09:39:00 MST

On Sat, 8 Jan 2000 wrote:

> Is art and "work" (whatever discipline one prefers to refer to) exclusively
> for others' recognition? Is it created for validation & results? Can't it be
> simply for one's own enjoyment? Can't I paint a masterpeice, let no one see
> it, and throw it in the trash - for my own self amusement, and still be
> creating?

Absolutely. If I my "creative" words made it seem otherwise, it was meme
jumbling. Creation (or the recognition of unusual mental states that have
some apparent beauty/rhythym/resonance/usefullness/etc.) is of inherent
value to the creator.

> You seem to assert that it is not valid until it receives outside
> recognition. This may be the way academia works - work is not valid until
> published or reviewed, and how business of art is done, but it does not cover
> the spectrum of creativity across mediums.

Agreed. I was only trying to express perhaps that the publication process
is for me a much more difficult "job" than the creation process. It can
probably be argued that idea "creation"(recognition) and creative execution
(production) may be functions of relatively separate areas of the brain
that are more or less well developed in different individuals.

> First I'd like to ask you, have you visited her online art gallery? Did you
> ask her whether her art requires intense discipline? Have you seen the
> "variations on a theme" that is the DNA breakout series? You are talking to a
> diehard fan of her art, BTW.

Answers would be: Yes, though not recently; I assume that it does (but I'll
have to look at her subsequent email to see whether the intensity and/or
discipline are more involved with the idea recognition phases or the
production phases); and Yes, though I have not seen her latest book.

> You first make assertions that creativity requires communication and
> recognition, and perhaps even having an impact of some sort on an outside
> "audience." Then you (inconsistently ; - ) imply that the nature of art is a
> natural outpouring, or growth. Is this really true? What are your sources for
> this assertion?

I think the creation of the ideas, and their *self*-recognition tends to be a
very natural process (its something I personally would have a hard time stopping!).
[So this is a personal experience citation.] However, the "expression" of
creativity (i.e. making it real) does require some form of communication.
The *other*-"recognition" is primarily external feedback on whether your
"creation" is creating similar idea resonance(s) in other individuals.
[Clearly my word "creations" that started this thread did not have exactly the
resonances I intended... :-)]

We can probably cite dozens of examples of artists whose ideas only resonated
at a time much after their life (i.e. ideas ahead of their time) as well as
artists who seem to have hit upon "classic" resonances that get recreated by
many different individuals from many different cultures in many generations.

> You assert that a work is not creative unless it is "new" - even that it
> isn't creative to conceive and execute similar variations on a theme. Is this
> realistic? As an artist I cannot say that I have ever done anything truly
> original, yet each of my own pieces is unlike anything before. I believe we
> build on foundations, and improve and rearrange things in new ways. Music
> that is utterly new would be cacophonous. The truly new would be unfamiliar
> and unrecognizable and hence cognitively boring.

The problem is that "new" is a very relative term. All most all art draws
on the foundation before it. Young artists usually have to spend a fair
amount of time "exploring" existing forms of expression or execution methods.
After this there are many directions to go in -- refine a current form,
apply old techniques to a new form, invent a new form and execution methods,
etc. Therein lies perhaps the crux of the degree of creativity (and
intelligence behind the creativity). To remain "connected" with others
you cannot vary the theme too much. Humans may be hard-wired for finding
certain musical rhythms appealing, exceed these boundaries and you no longer
have music. So the question is how much you stretch the connection? The
farther you stretch, the more limited is the audience that will likely be
successful in mentally reproducing what you intended. I suspect really
clever artists find ways of grounding their work that is very subtle
so that different individuals can get 3 of the 5 connections required
to get some major part of the original idea's resonance.

> This is a totally unrelated
> thread, but a very key aspect of futurism: Are we to create a totally new
> paradigm, or are we wiser to build on certain patterns we have already
> established. The unfamiliarity of all things is inherent in the concept of
> Singularity (and I admit I am not a Singulatarian by any means!!) If things
> are to be pleasing to our aesthetics, and rational in nature, should we not
> keep what works and build upon it, rather than throwing away all concepts in
> search of originality?

I think we have to do both (carefully one hopes). Existing approaches
do reach "dead ends". I suspect in art this gets treated as "breaking
the mold" or some other similar cliche.

> the creative mind works, in respect to being able to create and hold
> a variety of concepts, mixing them in new ways, without being bound by
> tradition - and the relating label of "inconsistency." I see your point here,
> and I agree, variance and flexibility can combine/juxtapose more freely. Aaha!
Well one out of four isn't bad... Got to get to 3 out of 5 however... :-)


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