What is Creativity?

Creativity is like a drunken man who cannot, irrespective of even the most maximum effort, keep each step taken in his drunken stupour in align with anything remotely straight. The further one goes, the more jagged the path one creates becomes. If one were to map the paths traveled by this drunken buffoon, a geometry consisting of nothing but zig-zags would appear.

The non-linear qualities so inextricably intertwined with creativity stem not from the inherent nature of creation, but rather from the qualities of those who call themselves artists or creators. It is these folks who introduce the chaos of unpredictability. Though on the surface an artist may appear to be of sound and rational mind, beneath that ever so deceptive presentation is a cluster of claustrophobic thoughts, tortuously screaming and yelling for a position in consciousness; all so they may become the product of action. It is as if each product of action, being a product of creative chaos, seeks the freedom from the noise inside the artist’s mind; to one-day rejoice in the solitude of nature, to forever rest in silence found on paper or canvas: obtain freedom.

We must further note, of creativity, there is a necessity for chaos. The average scientist, though remarkably bright, seldom produces a work of genius. The reason being, they follow the well-trodden path put before them in their literature. They commit themselves to literature reviews and years of textbooks, which are filled to the top with the previous discoveries of the discipline, thus leaving no room for originality. And upon that path which their discipline has created for them, they eventually reach an end; a wall of uncut trees which no one has worked on, but have been marked with a red X for future research. And here arises an opportunity. It is as if there is a glimmering hope, a glimpse of the possibilities for creative and original thought, and all that is required is that the scholar venture backward and find a point along the path which has not yet had the liberty of being created; turn-away from the red markings. A journey of many years now finally presenting, with great institutional resistance, a chance for creativity.

The potential for an original dissertation is so tremendous in such tumultuous circumstances that one, by mere exposure to the possibilities, must resign from society, temporarily; to enter a deep reflection upon the imaginative possibilities of that ever so disorderly world beyond the well-trodden path, of which one contemplates entrance to.

However, so polemic a dream, our glimpse, like Icarus when flying too close to the sun, started off with a glimmer and ended in ashes. Unfortunately, the academic scientist is seldom trained or encouraged to produce original thought, and as such, has the utmost linear-mind.

They resume the work which was dreamt up by those who placed the red markings on the trees, and now those red markings will stain their memories, as it represents the moment their opportunity for creative industry left them: a fleeting moment forever documented in history; only an artist would suppose something so lunatic as researching numbers!

It is perhaps the case that, even of those scientists who choose linearity while also possessing the disturbance in order which is necessary for an artist, there was a fear. A fear which held them back. It is no secret that artists fail more than they succeed; the writer writes twenty lines and then scraps the paper; the painter puts brush to canvas to then only discard the canvas; the poet rhymes but few syllables before scribbling out in black-ink those unessential and insubstantial symbols. Creativity can be easy, but plucking out of the chaos those thoughts which are worthwhile is no easy feat: creativity of quality is supremely difficult. And, like a good scientist, those who are fearful of the emotional dread and the social humiliation accompanied with failure, predict a greater level of success with the well-trodden path and so follow it.

So, although the scientists will indeed create, they will not have produced something which is a product of creativity. By not veering off into disorder, they stepped into that which has already been mapped for them. Creativity requires chaos.

And we must keep in mind, it is not just scientists who create; therefore, it is not just scientists who these lessons apply to. Entrepreneurs create, CEOs create, nearly everyone creates. But to be creative; that is, to produce something so original that there is no statistical similarity capable of being derived from the work when compared other works, requires the creator to explore the unexplored.

Creativity is chaos, and to enter a genuinely creative endeavor requires a great deal of endurance and mental fortitude. Society most likely will resist anyone who ventures off the path, and creating a new path, of which leads to some meaningful destination, is difficult. But with this difficulty comes the potential to evoke miraculously aesthetic experiences. Indeed, some who make it through can arrive empty-handed and exhausted, while others come bearing genius level creations. And it is perhaps this fear of empty-handedness that scares people away. But even for those adverse to risk, we can at least guarantee one thing, which might convince you otherwise; of either those who arrive empty-handed or bearing remarkable creations, both undergo an astonishing transformation: a mind which has seen the wildest of thoughts thinks in a manner markedly distinct from the average, and that is a gift of beauty. The process of creation has a way of relinquishing from one’s mind the rigid preconceptions of how one should remain within the boundaries and exposes in full force the beauty of exploring land not yet mapped. The influence of non-linear endeavors will forever be a marvel residing in the dormancy of your mind, awaiting your recollection of them so that they may yet again enter the realm of consciousness. If you embrace, you will doubtless find beauty in the end!

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Ideasinhat is a business development analyst and longtime reader of academic literature. He writes books and essays on science and philosophy, and posts them to this website. The essays, as with the books, cover topics from psychology, philosophy, and cognitive science to economics, politics, and law.

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