I seem to be developing a habit of ‘reaction posts’, but I can’t help it – when I read something provocative, it tends to plant a seed that slowly grows in my mind until it is well beyond the scope of a comment. In this case, I’m responding to Jonathan Fields’ post “The Creative Addiction: Is the Muse Friend or Foe?”.
Fields post consists of a quote from writer Pearl S. Buck and a couple of discussion questions. I’ll begin my discussion with the same quote:
The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive. To them… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death.
Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, their very breath is cut off…
They must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating.
Now, this is melodramatic stuff, and plays into a common stereotype of the creative person that is not, I believe, universally or necessarily true.
First of all, I take exception to the inverse implication that if I am not such a sensitive flower – if (say) I can handle a bad day or (heaven forbid!) an actual failure without wilting in a corner or crawling under a rock to lick my wounds, then I must not in fact be a ‘truly creative mind’. I beg to differ.
And then we have the issue of addiction, or at least “strange, unknown, inward urgency”, which probably amounts to the same thing. Is creativity an addiction? This is Fields’ central question, and there are some cogent replies among the comments. Personally I don’t really buy it, or at least I prefer to think about it differently… More
Warning: this is a bit of a long one, and contains much of my basic philosophy of life, some of the deepest truths I have uncovered in a lifetime of looking… I’m sure it’s not particularly original, but it’s important to me, and seems important to express, so here goes!
The last couple of posts here at cliffjump.net have focused on preparedness – the idea that yes, we are talking about diving into the unknown, taking the plunge, overcoming fear and hesitation and doubt, and perhaps even throwing caution to the wind… but there are limits, and doing something that might be dangerous recklessly, or doing something completely beyond our level of training or ability is not heroic, it’s just dumb.
However. I think it’s time to get back to my main theme: fearlessness. More