Monday, 19 April 2021

Creativity Shall Set You Free

 “A creative person has little power over his own life. He is not free.
He is captive and driven by his daimon.”
― Carl Jung


Last week I wrote about a colourful experiment I conducted as well as an experience I went through while drumming. Basically, I wouldn’t follow a repetitive beat with a certain tempo as I would normally do; but rather, go to the very opposite of where my hands and mind want to “head”. Consciously snapping out of any patterns I would find myself beginning to get immersed in — most of them known and probably had been played before. Doing that, I would prompt myself to make mistakes then make it part of the dance. Dealing with the uncertainty and the unknown with an open heart and mind. Repeatedly for one hour.

While in the first article I explained the experiment and how it made me feel, in this one I’m reflecting upon it after recording another free-form jam session here on the Red Sea beach [shared below]. Again, the solitude empowered me to get as weird and wacky as one is allowed.

Another addition that greatly widened my perspective on the topic is a Netflix documentary called The Creative Brain. In it, neuroscientist David Eagleman interviews a wide variety of creative minds — and souls — about the creative process in general and, more specifically, what creativity means to them, as artists and artisans — those who work with their hands, minds, and hearts alike. How to nourish creativity is likewise covered.

By the end of this hour I had connected seemingly invisible dots together, leaving me significantly richer in ideas. At the same, some of my pre-existing ideas about creativity were reinforced by the novelty while some of my arguments were strengthened. As a creative person myself, I could relate to almost everything that had been said in this illuminating doc; the novel insight turned out to be of great help in perceiving a bigger, fuller picture.
The video essentially starts with an explanation of what creativity is. One of which is how by getting two seemingly different ideas or concepts together in one equation the result becomes a third amalgamation, a hybrid between the two. As such, creativity allows us to freely — and playfully — mix and match, even in-between two different fields all together. Interestingly, this balance-amidst-polarity notion lit a familiar lightbulb above my head as it took me straight to my recent exposé: A Dialectic With Myself: Practical Yin Yang Approach to Coincidentia Oppositorum

The Hegelian dialectic comprising three dialectical stages of development: a thesis, giving rise to its reaction; an antithesis, which contradicts or negates the thesis; and the tension between the two being resolved by means of a synthesis. In more simplistic terms, one can consider it thus: problem → reaction → solution.” A baby is born.

Now, since creation is the resulting baby, then the more incoming stimulus, and the more diverse it is, the more creativity. Simply because we have more input to play with, more senses to decipher, and more feelings to channel. This entails more experience; more going out in the world and more doing. The diversity enriches our palette, allowing us to paint our reality in more colourful colours and hues. 
Connecting with said diversity empowers us while also making us feel whole. A reason why creativity gives significance to one’s humanity while making us feel that our lives matter.    
It reminds us that we are true co-creators of the universe and the soul pilot of our reality; the warriors of our own saga. 

One dares saying creativity is essential to our well-being and happiness. 
After 10 years of working for the vapid, passionless corporate world I left it all behind and travelled to Canada where I rediscovered myself, taking art in general and writing in particular as vocations. It was also where I detoxed from a decade-long toxic lifestyle. Creativity then and there became this transformative energy propelling me forward while helping me deal with the sober eyes. Upon awakening from a quasi kind of life like a zombie for this decade, I suddenly began noticing the huge load of sensory input, or information, constantly bombarding me. Writing and photography then came to the rescue. For I found myself in my writings and photos.

Following three years in Canada came four years in the U.S, most of which were spent in Venice Beach where I also began djembe drumming at the Venice Beach Drum Circle. 

Slowly but surely I began to master the art of harnessing my creative muse. The various art forms started to melt in my mind and many babies were the results: Writings, photos, and videos about drumming and the Drum Circle — even philosophy and psychology. Some glorious mixing and matching ensued. Almost simultaneously I became captive and driven by his daimon.  

I had first began experiencing Flow State when I first started writing in Canada. How to spend three or five days totally consumed by a certain piece. You forget to eat, to shower, to sleep, and, when you sleep you dream of that which you are working on. Surprisingly, your body does not tire while in The Zone. The energy is limitless. Indeed, mind over matter. The Fire of the Soul is too great, so it carries you on throughout the process. 
The Writing Process and the Creative Block is an earlier piece about the topic, focusing on creativity in writing.

There is also these two previous exposés in which creativity is explored: Artists Between Mindset and Motivation, in which Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations are compared and contrasted, as well as The Intertwining of Genius and Insanity.

On a parallel note, I came across a YouTube video titled Neuroscientist David Eagleman with Sadhguru – In Conversation with the Mystic, which some may enjoy. 

Not Einstein to whom it is often attributed as shown by Quote Investigator

The documentary then carries on explaining how originality in its most absolute sense doesn’t exist.
 This echoes with what Mark Twain wrote to Helen Keller when she was accused of plagiarism: “All Ideas Are Second-Hand”. 
Instead, creativity is constantly borrowing from the previous. The Here and Now —- of the creative mind — seems to always be affected and inspired by the past, even if subconsciously. Memories then become the incoming stimulus. Being able, then, to see unseen connections and perceive novel combinations is the key to originality. Perhaps the sole true creativity in the equation. This is accomplished by bridging the gap between the familiar and the new; in order to create a hybrid that has never existed before. In that regards, creativity is one almost sure way to becoming immortal — through creating that which has never existed before, which will hopefully last long after the creator artist departs this physical existence. 

Speaking of that B.R.I.D.G.E, here is an example that instantly invaded my mind as soon as I typed the word. I went to a diner that offers “breakfast at any time”. So I ordered a Spanish omelette during the Inquisition. Waaa waa wa. Sound familiar? Well, only if you know about the brilliant Steven Wright and his hilarious paraprosdokians and non sequitur one-liners. Let me enlighten you: So, the original joke is: I went to a diner that offers “Breakfast At Any Time”, so I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance. Then by “stealing the concept” one can come up with their own sentences. 

This brings us to snowclone. In linguistics, it is a cliché and phrasal template that can be used and recognised in multiple variants. The term was coined as a neologism in 2004, derived from journalistic clichés that referred to the number of Eskimo words for snow. It is a customisable phrase which can be adapted for different situations by changing only some of the words. It is something I haver been using in my writings for few years now, especially while using humour, without knowing it had a name, despite my prior knowledge that it exists. “X is the new Y” is one example of a snowclone.

Do you see how we can eclectically connect quite the significantly different fields by sharpening our senses? Drumming, writing, Dialectics, philosophy, and psychology. Because the pallet I came to amass through life experiences is equipping me to do so. Without it, I would never be able to entertain such distinct topics, let alone the reconciliation, by creating a hybrid synthesis and offering a novel “solution”. Create your own reality is therefore not a hippy dippy slogan, but an actual potentiality that can transform your life around.   

Do you now see how we constantly ‘steal’ without plagiarising. Openly sharing with you how this joke came about reminds me with “Creativity is the art of concealing your sources” by C. E. M. Joad. This sentiment was repeated time and again throughout the age only through different wordings. Other than purely for the purpose of explaining how the creative process unfolds, I tend to agree. It is again, connecting the dots in your own original way so that you may see a bigger picture no one has seen before. More about the topic is covered in Connecting the Dots — a Storyteller Way of Seeing the Big Picture

New video

Now back to the newly-found no-form drumming. Remember I mentioned putting myself there right outside my comfort zone, and almost forcing myself to making mistakes. On purpose. Then take note from there. Moment by moment by moment. A convenient term repeated in the doc multiple times is: The path of least resistance. Or as I had previously called it: The easy way out, which we are conditioned to seek and follow. As a species, it helps saving our energy. The key to heightened creative output, however, is to abandon this path of least resistance and tread uncharted territories. Take a leap of faith and do not be afraid to make mistakes or to fail. Mind not the confusion, the uncertainty, the unknown, or even the occasional frustration. For it’s part of our human experience as well as the creative process. In fact, plunge into all of them head first. This is precisely how we learn. If we don’t learn, you see, we don’t evolve. Simple stupid. Stepping outside your comfort zone is a bold courageous act as it is a humbling and educational experience.

A question then naturally arises: Why do we create? About four years ago I tried to answer this existential query in Why I Share Stuff. Later again in The Intertwining of Music and Sexuality ― A Djembefola’s Tale, in which the evolutionary purpose of creating music was discussed. As it turned out, playing music — as well as dancing to it — came to serve as an advertisement of health and well-being, which remains essential to mating. This is in addition to the intrinsic benefits and communicative properties of music.

One answer from the doc starts by reminding us that we are a novelty-seeking species, for whom the old and the familiar is constantly becoming less and less stimulating. Much like tolerance to drugs. This resonates with me on many levels. In our drumming experiment here on the Red Sea beach it seems quite clear that I was lacking stimulation. After four years of drumming every weekend in Venice Beach, playing along all these very different tunes and beats among all those stunning dancers and photographers and tourists, my current solitary seclusion leaves one with a whole lot to fantasise about. 

You see, drumming alone is a totally different experience than drumming with others, let alone playing at drum circles. So the lack of stimulation and excitement had probably pushed me to tackle new horizons and try something new, seeking to absorb new sensory input to enrich my palette. 
One secret, it is said, is to walk along The Path Of The Razor’s Edge and find balance between the old familiar on one pole and the new wacky from the other. Balance, it seems, remains the name of the game. Almost everywhere.  

The documentary ends with three points about how to harness your creativity and make it work to your favour. 
The first is leaving your comfort zone and doing more [new] things in life. Abandoning the path of least resistance.
The following is reminding the viewers to always push their boundaries while exploring a wider range of possibilities and probabilities. We do so to experience the limits of what works and what needs to be discarded. Just like a ruthless editor: Keep the good and remove the bad. “Pushing the envelope” or the boundaries — we have created ourselves —  also keeps our creations fresh.
As previously mentioned in Unshackled by the Red Sea, one of the beauty of the creative process is the unknown. You see, before it’s finalised, any creative work of art faces the possibility of being shred into a million pieces then set on fire. In other words, never seeing the light. Ever. Really, sometimes it all just crumbles down. And if you feel it is right, you should allow it every once in a while; for destruction often breeds creation.

The third and final advice presented in the doc on how to harness your creative potential and juices is not being afraid to make mistakes or of failing. A certain degree of risk-taking is always invigorating. If you live your life trying to avoid making mistakes or failing, you will probably end up doing nothing at all. Nothing worth mentioning, that is. From the mistakes and failings emerge a novel perspective, offering a newer truth. At least one. Perhaps it would be the mere realisation that you absolutely hate what you had worked on or created and want it annihilated beyond recognition. Now that is, in and of itself, a new perspective, added to you only because you dared to take a leap of faith into the unknown. 
So make mistakes and fail, consistently. Become better at both. But only after getting off the path of least resistance, the easy road. Only then can we get the chance to create that which has never existed before and reach immortality. 

It is certainly a refreshing attitude to have in life that keeps us young at heart.  

At the very end, creativity and imagination are our gateway to brilliance and magnificence. Without them we wouldn’t go too far as a species. Creating art is mere magic that colours up our lives and makes it much richer and more interesting. Radical artistic expression should be a life philosophy. Everyone is a genius, for no one can come up with an idea quite like you. No one will ever be YOUER than you. Now fearlessly leave you imprint on the universe to gently shake the world.


The first video

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