Monday, June 23, 2008

On Creativity, Part 1.

A few months ago I started writing something, an essay, a blog, something, about creativity. I was holed up in a hotel sick as a dog and by myself for an entire saturday. So I spent half the day watching the discovery channel (Deadliest Catch was running a marathon that day) and the other half thinking about and then writing, preliminarily, this thing about creativity. The previous week had witnessed a conversation between a teacher friend of mine and myself, about creativity, one evening as we drove home from orchestra rehearsal. I don't really remember the initial discussion or it's origins, but the issue that everyone is creative came up at some point. My friends stance was that indeed everyone is creative, they only need outlets with which they can express it; whereas, my position was that perhaps not everyone is creative, but only some are. More than anything else, I was playing the devil's advocate that night, but after dropping my friend off and driving home alone, late at night, for 2 more hours, I found myself thinking about what I had posited. When I got home, I had started to feel my oncoming sickness and additionally, the conversation that had started nearly three hours earlier was still running in my mind with no signs of stopping or even quieting down.
I thought about it for the remainder of the week and on that saturday, I found myself in the hotel with a notepad, a phone and a lot of time. So I started writing. What I came up with represents the ewmbryonic stage of what has become a monstrosity of thought, opinion and conclusions about what we mean when we speak the word creativity, when we opine that something or someone is creative, and what possibly comprises the field of inquiry.
One of the first thoughts I had about creativity that saturday was actually a question, or more precisely, a series of related questions, the first of which was, Is creativity something that exists outside of ourselves and if so, what comprises it, such that we can (presumably) recognize its existence? So I started thinking, and I came up with four components: Imagination, Resources, Motivation and Skill. After coming up with these catagories, I then started asking myself, how much of each catagory was required for creativity to exist as we know it. At this point, I decided to ask around to see what other folks might think. Luckily, I was to be at the last concert of the orchestra cycle the next day, and so I knew I would have at my disposal, at least a few willing survey-takers within the confines of my orchestra colleagues (at least I assumed I would, and it turned out I did). So I started an informal, fairly non-scientific survey. I ended up getting about 60 or 70 participants, mostly orchestra folks, but there were a few laypeople (not involved in the arts) who also participated. The results were interesting in that the opinions varied much more than I would have guessed. Here is what I garnered:

Imagination: roughly 40.6 %
Motivation: roughly 26%
Skill: roughly 19.4%
Resources: roughly 14%

As you can see, imagination was far and away the largest required component, in the opinions of my survey audience, involved in the creative process, while the actual resources were considered to be the least important. After gathering this information, I continued thinking about my catagories,a nd at some point along the way, I altered the catagories in a fundamental way. This happened during the course of gathering the survey results, and so in the interest of congruence, I maintained the original catagories throughout the entire survey process. The original groups (all 4) remained in my mind as catagories, after I morphed the divisions, what I did was simply reorder the existing catagories into a new registration. The new configuration became not 4 catagories but 2: Intention and Resources. You're probably asking yourself, where the heck is Imagination in the new configuration. Seeing as how it garnered the most votes of confidence in the original survey, can I live with eliminating it from the results altogether? This is why I reorderd things. Imagination now fell under the catagory of Resources, along with Skill and the original resources (notice the lowercase r), leaving only Motivation to be accounted for (from the original fantastic four). In the process of reordering the catagories, I realized that motivation was not the ultimate factor I had once thought it was. Motivation revealed itself as a precursory step to Intention. This new step became the fourth catagory, having been based upon the earlier motivation. So, as I now had it, it went:

Resources (also renamed as materials):


The numbers I had gathered remained the same, at least I think they did (and do), so thank you to all of those who participated in my thought experiment.
As to the writing of the essay about creativity, it is continuing, but I will admit, I have taken a brief hiatus from it, as I was becoming a bit overwhelmed with the scope. But I will be posting portions of it on this blog as I finish them. In the meantime, those of you (few though you are) who were wondering when that danged fool Dan was going to actually post what he said he was going to, here it is, thanks for your patience.

To be Continued.......

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