Wednesday, June 11, 2014


                                       THIS BUSINESS OF CREATIVITY
                                                   By Patricia Garfinkel

As writers, we take pride in our creativity, its mystique and uniqueness, the magic of putting pen to paper and out of words as ordinary as our conversation, make unimagined structures of thought.  Beyond this elation there is sometimes a pretence that art – writing, painting, musical composition – requires the indefinable “process of creativity” while fields such as science, mathematics and engineering require only high intelligence to elucidate an ever increasing array of facts.  While we tend to see art as creating something new, as artists we are apt to view science as merely unearthing something that already existed but that until the moment
of  revelation we were not smart enough to see.

However, the process, if we can call it that, for art as well as for science, is fundamentally the same, despite the obvious – that the results differ in form.

Of Copernicus’ thesis that the Earth moved around the Sun, renowned mathematician, natural scientist and writer Jacob Bronowski asks, When did Copernicus go out and record this fact with his camera?  What appearance in nature prompted his outrageous guess?  And in what odd sense is this guess to be called a neutral record of fact?”  When Copernicus wrote, “The Earth conceives from the Sun,” he could not have concluded this by filling endless notebooks with myriad routine calculations.  First he had to make the giant leap of imagination that would catapult his focus to the Sun, from whose perspective the orbits of the planets seemed simpler, more logical.

In the creative process, the artist and the scientist alike, bring forth an image, whether it be, “The apparition of these faces in the crowd;/ Petals on a wet black bough,”or the Sun as the center of the universe.  Bronowski is more concise when he tells us, “To the person who makes the theory, it may seem as inevitable as the ending of Othello must have seemed to Shakespeare.”

 C.P. Snow described art and science as two distinct and separate cultures despite the fact that he lived in each.  As both a scientist and a writer, with 11 novels to his credit, he insisted that “in the process of making a discovery, however humble it is, one can’t help feeling an awareness of beauty.”  The subjective experience, the aesthetic satisfaction, seems exactly the same as the satisfaction one gets from writing a poem or a novel, or composing a piece of music.”  I would also challenge that one surpasses the other in universal beauty.

Perhaps what we cannot challenge in this amorphous process of creativity is that, in all its forms, it brings order out of chaos.  The artist faces this chaos before being able to bring about the integration of the work.  The scientist faces similar fragmentation in an effort to comprehend nature.  Both must risk giving up the more conscious and analytical frame of mind to be open to the lower-level primary
process thinking of the unconscious that scans a million possibilities and then projects the missing order into reality. 

Neither artists nor scientists own the territory of creativity.  Each is blessed with a gift that enhances and advances the world.

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