small_6974372I suppose most people, when asked for what creativity is not, would say something like, “unimaginative”, “something derivative”, or  “lacking in originality.”  I think this typical way of thinking misses the point.  Something that is derivative is a flawed, and poor example of creativity.  But the absence of creativity is the void.   It is the state of the world in which the thing that might have been, is not.  Michelangelo was living in a world without his statue of David.  And to him, this non-Davidish  characteristic of the world eventually became unacceptable.  It was a problem which he solved through creativity.

To think of what this is like for the artist, imagine going back in time about a hundred years.  Once you had made your fortune betting on sporting events and the like and you looked around at the world around you, there would be many things you missed about your own time.  How many movies, songs, stories, art works, or even scientific theories that were part of your world would be gone?  You wouldn’t be able to make a single Star Wars joke or listen to a Sinatra song.  The words ‘the Beatles’ would simply be a typo.  Your world would be lacking in those things.  That is what it is like for a creative person once they have experienced the void and the problem that it represents.

The musician getting on a train hears a song in his head that does not yet exist.  This is a flaw in reality that only he can solve.  A graphics artist has an assignment:  Create a new logo for Product X.  The logo does not yet exist, or exists in a form that is no longer sufficient.  As she settles into the work her creative process is solving that problem.  The Novelist sitting in a coffee shop thinks of a concept for a new story.  No such story exists, at least not with the particular characteristics that this novelist would bring to it.  Creativity is the solution to these problems.  Creativity is the spark that lights the darkness of the void.

by M.J.Miello

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