Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Considering Creativity

Originally posted on August 10, 2011

Everyone is creating a little in their lives all the time. It’s a fundamental category of existence-as-becoming. Not so many people consciously create, and even fewer make creativity a specific value in their lives. Part of the problem is that creativity has a very low yield of actual breakthroughs that would be recognized by others as “having been creative.” Lots of the process is really exploring, reaching, making mistakes, correcting tactics, trying again—if one keeps the faith in the exploratory process.

For example, let’s say that on this planet there are billions of micro-creative energy explorations, new ideas, trying something out, every minute, and maybe a thousandth of those really seem to work—they seem like breakthroughs! But there are complications!

Half of those seeming breakthroughs—when they’re reconsidered, either face overwhelming obstacles or don’t seem to be so great after all. Indeed, some seem positively absurd. Then there’s the interesting category in which a portion of these nascent creative ideas might indeed have worked if only there was a technology to implement them. They are prescient, years, maybe centuries, before their time. Ah, well.

Of the other half, two thirds of those, when applied, don’t work, or only barely work. Here comes the hard part. Further experimentation and refinement is needed. Of course, some of the innovators are impatient, greedy and egocentric enough to take the weak positive results as sufficient validation and justification for starting to peddle their product as if it’s good. (Examples of this abound in the field of alternative healing—some of which is really quack medicine!)

Still, there are those who stay with their creative breakthrough ideas, persist through the moments when they exclaim, “Dang! It still doesn’t work.” They refine, develop, re-think, re-tune. Alas, some of these creative ideas, such as perpetual motion, just hit the wall of the constraints of material reality as we know it. “Well, it seemed a good idea at the time.”

Some few finally right off or more commonly with some or a lot of work end up really adding to the sum total of actual progress on this planet. Even then, half of those winners end up having unintended consequences, so more work is needed to identify and counteract those glitches.

In other words, what if ideas, memes, are a bit like the general prolific nature of Nature, in which a hundred million sperm cells end up with only one of them actually impregnating an egg, millions of seeds get eaten or fertilize the ground, or with fertilized squid eggs and baby squid—99% become food for other critters, but just enough survive to keep the species growing.

I think if creativity is liberated in ways that are happening today, with less suppression of thinking and communication, more interchange and cross-encouragement, we may double our rate of progress from 1% per year to 2%. Cumulatively, this keeps the rate of progress advancing into the postmodern upwardly curving exponential diagram of the emerging postmodern era— symbol—  flag? — for our time. This is a contemplation that is aimed at supporting the activity of faith as turning towards the light, the positive, the hopeful.

One Response to “Considering Creativity”

  • terry teaters says:

    What an interesting connection to Morin’s complexity theory. I like the idea of creativity as a natural and universal process, wherein the loudest voice often drowns out the little peep.

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