Archive for August, 2010

Csikszentmihályi on creativity

August 23rd, 2010

An art-committed life – requirements 4

August 23rd, 2010

Questioning and Artist within and Strategies

What do I mean by creativity?
Creativity for me means tons of idea; problem solving kit; thinking differently; seeing thins that are not there, sort of envisioning; seeing shapes and colours in a unique way making up shapes and forms not there just yet; imagining new things into existence; making up new ways of doing things; reorganizing something in a new way…

How is it different form talent?
Talent is ability or a skill in extra amount present; creativity can be a talent, but it is not necessary to have a talent to be creative.

Do I believe that I can be more creative? In what ways? What must I do to become more creative?
I could be more creative. In ways I live my life. I live a creative-less life. I should dare live, make up many different ways of living my life and dare live those ideas … or at least try them out and see if they work.

Do I love my art enough? Do I feel passionate about my art?
I don’t think I love my art very much. I do feel passionate about it, though. I express my passion towards my art by making it, keeping it, showing it, learning about it…

How can I test if I love my art? (“If I can imagine doing something other than write poetry, might I be better off not pursuing the poet’s life?” Rilke)
On how much energy I put into it; how much I practise; how much I go around learning about it. I can imagine doing other things than painting and singing but all the other stuff is creative ‘work’ and in some ways related to each other.

If I feel less ardent than I think I should, how can I increase my love for my art? How can I really, truly fall in love with my medium? (or fall in love with it again?)
Honesty I don’t know what to choose. I don’t feel like doing only one thing and give up all the other I am interested in. I could increase my passion for my art by creating some ‘goal’ to achieve by it… like self-expression, expressing my feelings, putting some ideas into ‘form’. Also feeling that I am good at what I am doing would support me being more committed.

Do I know enough to work creatively? Am I lacking in any knowledge? Am I insufficiently aware of traditions, the technical aspects of my medium, the current trends and fashion?
I definitely lack a lot of knowledge in many areas, both art and music.

Do I work hard enough at my art? Do I spend enough hours at it
? No, not hard enough. I don’t spend much time at my art, and when I do, I don’t especially like what I create. Music is different. I work hard at it, could do more nevertheless.

Have I developed ways of mastering my disciplination to work? Do I have a repertoire of strategies? If not will I put such a repertoire together?
No, I don’t think so. I do my art when I have ‘time’ for it. Strategy could be going to art school; spending more time in Kemenes and practising what I have learnt; more art-buddies meeting to share; going singing more often, or going to school; finding other musicians to play and practise with; finding permanent exhibition place so to be inspired to create more art, where I can sell as well…

I hate answering these questions. Most of the answers say I don’t like my art. I am not passionate about it. I am not disciplined enough to succeed. Super! :)

What do I mean by talent? How do I define it?
A unique skill or ability innate at birth – must be discovered and developed further. It is like a gold-mine.

What does it mean to be talented in my field? What skills and abilities does someone in my field need? How many of them do I need to do good work? Are they all necessary?
Visual art – being able to draw and paint seems necessary; having an affinity for colours and some unique skill in all this seems like a good idea.
Singing – carrying a tune is quite necessary; reading notes is a good ideas; a unique way of singing is a must. Giftedness or lots of persuasiveness seems necessary as well.

How talented am I?
I have no bloody idea! Really! How should I know!?

What are my strength and weaknesses?
I am good with colours.
I can carry a tune; I love music and I can reproduce sounds I hear fairly accurately.
I don’t have much confidence. I need support to draw well, e.g. lot of practise.
I don’t know exactly what my strength and weaknesses are.

Do I consider the skills or abilities I lack to be the kinds that one either innately does or does not possess? Or do I believe that they can be acquired or enhanced through practice or learning?
Drawing is an innate ability that can be enhanced but better have it well-developed at birth. Having the ability of complete hearing helps as well. I could learn (or enhanced) all that I lack with practise and perseverance.

Does the matter of talent, in my case, seem to revolve around one or a few certain abilities that I possess in insufficient measure? Will I create a plan to test myself for those abilities? Will I work hard at manifesting them before deciding that I don’t posses them?
Yes, a few. I have tested some of them already. I need to practise properly, take lessons and ask for support in developing those skills I lack. Re confidence – I just need to create situations whereas I receive positive feedback. Plan is not necessary, I am working on them already.

Having assessed my talent as best I can, what do I see as the right fit between my talent and my career aspiration? Am I setting my sights too high or low?
I think my aspirations are at the right place. My sight maybe a little low…

Against which great masters do I compare myself? Against what set of ideals o I compare my talent? Will I consider myself insufficiently talented if I fall short matching the accomplishments of some great master or the requirements of some set of ideals?
I don’t compare myself but wish to have the talent of Picasso, Dali, Van Gogh … I am ok not having the talent of Van Gogh or Picasso.

Because I see that mediocrity sells in the marketplace, do I doubt that talent is really an issue in my field? Do I need to concern myself with matters other than talent in order to have a career?

I think talent is an issue, not as if many are bothered by it but I do. There are other issues besides talent to deal with so to have a career in art and music like self-marketing which seems like more important than anything else.

Because of the path I have chosen to take as a community artist (or a collaborative artist, a crafts person, a pop artist, etc) how much or how little should the matter of talent concern me?
Not much … I suppose, but not completely convinced though…

“Ways out –
Examine creative blockage
Work on a mighty theme
Affirm that you can create or perform
Carry your work differently
If you are a performer also create
Change formats
Turn things on their ears
Discover ways of working more deeply an effectively
Track your creativity”

“Three components of creativity: loving, knowing, doing.”

Source for quotes/questions – Creativity for Life by Eric Maisel. PhD


Creative Personality (3)

August 17th, 2010

7. Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping. When tests of masculinity/femininity are given to young people, over and over one finds that creative and talented girls are more dominant and tough than other girls, and creative boys are more sensitive and less aggressive than their male peers.

This tendency toward androgyny is sometimes understood in purely sexual terms, and therefore it gets confused with homosexuality. But psychological androgyny is a much wider concept referring to a person’s ability to be at the same time aggressive and nurturant, sensitive and rigid, dominant and submissive, regardless of gender. A psychologically androgynous person in effect doubles his or her repertoire of responses. Creative individuals are more likely to have not only the strengths of their own gender but those of the other one, too.

8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative. It is impossible to be creative without having first internalized an area of culture. So it’s difficult to see how a person can be creative without being both traditional and conservative and at the same time rebellious and iconoclastic. Being only traditional leaves an area unchanged; constantly taking chances without regard to what has been valued in the past rarely leads to novelty that is accepted as an improvement. The artist Eva Zeisel, who says that the folk tradition in which she works is “her home,” nevertheless produces ceramics that were recognized by the Museum of Modern Art as masterpieces of contemporary design. This is what she says about innovation  for its own sake:

“This idea to create something is not my aim. To be different is a negative motive, and no creative thought or created thing grows out of a negative impulse. A negative impulse is always frustrating. And to be different means ‘not like this’ and ‘not like that.’ And the ‘not like’—that’s why postmodernism, with the prefix of ‘post,’ couldn’t work. No negative impulse can work, can produce any happy creation. Only a positive one.”

But the willingness to take risks, to break with the safety of tradition, is also necessary. The economist George Stigler is very emphatic in this regard: “I’d say one of the most common failures of able people is a lack of nerve. They’ll play safe games. In innovation, you have to play a less safe game, if it’s going to be interesting. It’s not predictable that it’ll go well.”

9. Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well. Without the passion, we soon lose interest in a difficult task. Yet without being objective about it, our work is not very good and lacks credibility. Here is how the historian Natalie Davis puts it:

“I think it is very important to find a way to be detached from what you write, so that you can’t be so identified with your work that you can’t accept criticism and response, and that is the danger of having as much affect as I do. But I am aware of that and of when I think it is particularly important to detach oneself from the work, and that is something where age really does help.”

10. Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment. Most would agree with Rabinow’s words: “Inventors have a low threshold of pain. Things bother them.” A badly designed machine causes pain to an inventive engineer, just as the creative writer is hurt when reading bad prose.

Being alone at the forefront of a discipline also leaves you exposed and vulnerable. Eminence invites criticism and often vicious attacks. When an artist has invested years in making a sculpture, or a scientist in developing a theory, it is devastating if nobody cares.

Deep interest and involvement in obscure subjects often goes unrewarded, or even brings on ridicule. Divergent thinking is often perceived as deviant by the majority, and so the creative person may feel isolated and misunderstood.

Perhaps the most difficult thing for creative individuals to bear is the sense of loss and emptiness they experience when, for some reason, they cannot work. This is especially painful when a person feels his or her creativity drying out.

Yet when a person is working in the area of his of her expertise, worries and cares fall away, replaced by a sense of bliss. Perhaps the most important quality, the one that is most consistently present in all creative individuals, is the ability to enjoy the process of creation for its own sake. Without this trait, poets would give up striving for perfection and would write commercial jingles, economists would work for banks where they would earn at least twice as much as they do at universities, and physicists would stop doing basic research and join industrial laboratories where the conditions are better and the expectations more predictable.

From Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, published by HarperCollins, 1996.


August 16th, 2010

One of my greatest inspirations has passed this morning. She was a woman of great power and will and still humble and kind. I met her about 10 years ago as I was attending an Insight 2 seminar in London. Later I attended some more of her seminars. I found her amazing! There was this strongly built women with the look of a lioness holding her gaze upon her pray but I did not fear any because the depth of her look was not only gentle but caring.

I still remember the way she introduced me to a bunch of people a few years back – a VERY woman – she said about me, but I know now, that she was also talking about herself.

At a young age she became a single mum but never gave up on believing in Life and Love. She found a loving supportive man to complete her family of two. She became a world renowned trainer and psychologist who supported many towards healing and growth. Me, one of them. She designed seminar materials for development especially in areas of relationships and spiritual awareness. She did a great deal for many of us who knew her.

I miss her already. I hope her journey home was smooth and peaceful.

Hope to see you sometime, in some other galaxy, Barbara…

God Bless you!

Creative Personality (2)

August 16th, 2010

3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility. There is no question that a playfully light attitude is typical of creative individuals. But this playfulness doesn’t go very far without its antithesis, a quality of doggedness, endurance, perseverance.

Nina Holton, whose playfully wild germs of ideas are the genesis of her sculpture, is very firm about the importance of hard work: “Tell anybody you’re a sculptor and they’ll say, ‘Oh, how exciting, how wonderful.’ And I tend to say, ‘What’s so wonderful?’ It’s like being a mason, or a carpenter, half the time. But they don’t wish to hear that because they really only imagine the first part, the exciting part. But, as Khrushchev once said, that doesn’t fry pancakes, you see. That germ of an idea does not make a sculpture which stands up. It just sits there. So the next stage is the hard work. Can you really translate it into a piece of sculpture?”

Jacob Rabinow, an electrical engineer, uses an interesting mental technique to slow himself down when work on an invention requires more endurance than intuition: “When I have a job that takes a lot of effort, slowly, I pretend I’m in jail. If I’m in jail, time is of no consequence. In other words, if it takes a week to cut this, it’ll take a week. What else have I got to do? I’m going to be here for twenty years. See? This is a kind of mental trick. Otherwise you say, ‘My God, it’s not working,’ and then you make mistakes. My way, you say time is of absolutely no consequence.”

Despite the carefree air that many creative people affect, most of them work late into the night and persist when less driven individuals would not. Vasari wrote in 1550 that when Renaissance painter Paolo Uccello was working out the laws of visual perspective, he would walk back and forth all night, muttering to himself: “What a beautiful thing is this perspective!” while his wife called him back to bed with no success.

4. Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality. Great art and great science involve a leap of imagination into a world that is different from the present. The rest of society often views these new ideas as fantasies without relevance to current reality. And they are right. But the whole point of art and science is to go beyond what we now consider real and create a new reality. At the same time, this “escape” is not into a never-never land. What makes a novel idea creative is that once we see it, sooner or later we recognize that, strange as it is, it is true.

Most of us assume that artists—musicians, writers, poets, painters—are strong on the fantasy side, whereas scientists, politicians, and businesspeople are realists. This may be true in terms of day-to-day routine activities. But when a person begins to work creatively, all bets are off.

5. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted. We’re usually one or the other, either preferring to be in the thick of crowds or sitting on the sidelines and observing the passing show. In fact, in psychological research, extroversion and introversion are considered the most stable personality traits that differentiate people from each other and that can be reliably measured. Creative individuals, on the other hand, seem to exhibit both traits simultaneously.

6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time. It is remarkable to meet a famous person who you expect to be arrogant or supercilious, only to encounter self-deprecation and shyness instead. Yet there are good reasons why this should be so. These individuals are well aware that they stand, in Newton’s words, “on the shoulders of giants.” Their respect for the area in which they work makes them aware of the long line of previous contributions to it, putting their own in perspective. They’re also aware of the role that luck played in their own achievements. And they’re usually so focused on future projects and current challenges that past accomplishments, no matter how outstanding, are no longer very interesting to them. At the same time, they know that in comparison with others, they have accomplished a great deal. And this knowledge provides a sense of security, even pride.

The Creative Personality (1)

August 15th, 2010

By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, published on July 01, 1996 – last reviewed on October 14, 2008

Of all human activities, creativity comes closest to providing the fulfillment we all hope to get in our lives. Call it full-blast living.

Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives. Most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the result of creativity. What makes us different from apes—our language, values, artistic expression, scientific understanding, and technology—is the result of individual ingenuity that was recognized, rewarded, and transmitted through learning.

When we’re creative, we feel we are living more fully than during the rest of life. The excitement of the artist at the easel or the scientist in the lab comes close to the ideal fulfillment we all hope to get from life, and so rarely do. Perhaps only sex, sports, music, and religious ecstasy—even when these experiences remain fleeting and leave no trace—provide a profound sense of being part of an entity greater than ourselves. But creativity also leaves an outcome that adds to the richness and complexity of the future.

I have devoted 30 years of research to how creative people live and work, to make more understandable the mysterious process by which they come up with new ideas and new things. Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an “individual,” each of them is a “multitude.”

Here are the 10 antithetical traits often present in creative people that are integrated with each other in a dialectical tension.

1. Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest. They work long hours, with great concentration, while projecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm. This suggests a superior physical endowment, a genetic advantage. Yet it is surprising how often individuals who in their seventies and eighties exude energy and health remember childhoods plagued by illness. It seems that their energy is internally generated, due more to their focused minds than to the superiority of their genes.

This does not mean that creative people are hyperactive, always “on.” In fact, they rest often and sleep a lot. The important thing is that they control their energy; it’s not ruled by the calendar, the dock, an external schedule. When necessary, they can focus it like a laser beam; when not, creative types immediately recharge their batteries. They consider the rhythm of activity followed by idleness or reflection very important for the success of their work. This is not a bio-rhythm inherited with their genes; it was learned by trial and error as a strategy for achieving their goals.

One manifestation of energy is sexuality. Creative people are paradoxical in this respect also. They seem to have quite a strong dose of eros, or generalized libidinal energy, which some express directly into sexuality. At the same time, a certain spartan celibacy is also a part of their makeup; continence tends to accompany superior achievement. Without eros, it would be difficult to take life on with vigor; without restraint, the energy could easily dissipate.

2. Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time. How smart they actually are is open to question. It is probably true that what psychologists call the “g factor,” meaning a core of general intelligence, is high among people who make important creative contributions.

The earliest longitudinal study of superior mental abilities, initiated at Stanford University by the psychologist Lewis Terman in 1921, shows rather conclusively that children with very high IQs do well in life, but after a certain point IQ does not seem to be correlated any longer with superior performance in real life. Later studies suggest that the cutoff point is around 120; it might be difficult to do creative work with a lower IQ, but an IQ beyond 120 does not necessarily imply higher creativity.

Another way of expressing this dialectic is the contrasting poles of wisdom and childishness. As Howard Gardner remarked in his study of the major creative geniuses of this century, a certain immaturity, both emotional and mental, can go hand in hand with deepest insights. Mozart comes immediately to mind.

Furthermore, people who bring about an acceptable novelty in a domain seem able to use well two opposite ways of thinking: the convergent and the divergent. Convergent thinking is measured by IQ tests, and it involves solving well-defined, rational problems that have one correct answer. Divergent thinking leads to no agreed-upon solution. It involves fluency, or the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas; flexibility, or the ability to switch from one perspective to another; and originality in picking unusual associations of ideas. These are the dimensions of thinking that most creativity tests measure and that most workshops try to enhance.

Yet there remains the nagging suspicion that at the highest levels of creative achievement the generation of novelty is not the main issue. People often claimed to have had only two or three good ideas in their entire career, but each idea was so generative that it kept them busy for a lifetime of testing, filling out, elaborating, and applying.

Divergent thinking is not much use without the ability to tell a good idea from a bad one, and this selectivity involves convergent thinking.

Source – Psychology Today

On being inspired

August 15th, 2010

After listening to all these inspiring people – Branson, Jobs, Gilbert, etc – I decided to dig deeper. A few years ago I read a couple of biographies. I had not been big on biographies, I often found them boring. Nevertheless when I attended a coaching course a few years back, part of my assignment was to read different biographies. The only requirement was that  whoever biography I read – he/she must be an inspiration to me.  I was not completely honest when I was choosing my ‘heroes’. I made my choice upon whatever was available at the library. I was a penniless student at that time, no extra for books. I still think I made fairly good choices: Michael J Fox – Lucky Man; Linda McCartney’s life story (don’t remember the title), J.K. Rowling’s story (no title either). They were amazing! Amazingly inspiring. So recently I thought maybe I should give it another go. So I’ve borrowed Richard Branson’s loosing my virginity and bought Randy Pauch’s Last lecture. This is my upcoming vacation’s reading list. Will report back later on them! :)

Something interesting – Fever Ray

August 15th, 2010

It is funny how listening to this song made me feel. After reeding a few words about this Karin Dreijer Andersson, aka Fever Ray and what the writer of the article (link below) think about Swedish dark-side kind of humour, I thought I was up for some real dark stuff, doom-like sounds. But ‘Dry and dusty’, though faily technical – computer created music – was not like that at all. It sounded like church-music to me. As if a monk way praying or contemplating of Life …

article here

Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Introduced By Sir Richard Branson

August 12th, 2010

Steve Jobs – How to live before you die (2005)

August 12th, 2010

At his Stanford University commencement speech, Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple and Pixar, urges us to pursue our dreams and see the opportunities in life’s setbacks — including death itself.

The once-and-again CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs has spearheaded a few of the most iconic products in technology, entertainment and design.

The pundits of Silicon Valley have a term for Steve Jobs’ charisma: the reality distortion field. But the truth is, most of us like living in Jobs’ reality, where exquisite design and sheer utility make for some addictively usable tools.

Jobs’ famous persuasive power is equalled by his creativity and business brilliance — apparent in legendary hardware and software achievements across three decades of work. The Macintosh computer (which brought the mouse-driven, graphical user interface to prominence), Pixar Animation Studios (which produced Toy Story, the first fully-3D-animated feature film), the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad (and who knows what’s next?) all owe credit to Jobs’ leadership and invention.

In recent years, Jobs has battled with a rare form of pancreatic cancer — adding to an epic life story that mirrors the story of Apple itself: ever the underdog, ever the spectacular success.

“The past decade in business belongs to Jobs.” Fortune Magazine