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Author Topic: At what point is creativity regarded as illness?  (Read 1195 times)

Offline pantodragon

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At what point is creativity regarded as illness?
« on: 09/02/2013 16:46:55 »


I have just been hearing Howard Goodall, the composer who is doing a series for the BBC on the history of music, discussing Mozart, and, in particular, homing in on how very prolific Mozart was in the last few years of his life.  It seems he was so prolific that it would have been virtually a full-time job just writing the music down never mind composing it as well.  Goodall was full of admiration for this feat of creativity, and thought it a part of Mozart’s genius.

Some time ago I heard something similar from a short story writer: R.K.Naryan.  Naryan spoke of how, when he got up in the morning, he would go and open his curtains and look out onto the street below, and he would just see stories everywhere; every person, every event, every thing just inspired a story and they came flooding into his head.  At the time I was working at fiction writing myself, and I was mightily envious of Naryans effortless creativity.

However, I have since encountered the phenomenon myself and so have been able to see the reality of what is going on.

A number of years ago I took up photography.  I admired and was influenced by some of the ‘great’ photographers, my particular favourite being Sebastio Salgado.  So I went down the usual route of ‘learning’ what made a good photo and trying to develop my eye and technique etc.  In a very short time I found I could not go out of my house without seeing pictures everywhere.  It was almost as though my eyes had become cameras and could only see in pictures.

I instantly reacted against this.  It felt wrong, felt as though my mind was running out of control, felt obsessive.  I would liken it to a car engine that won’t idle: when you put the car out of gear the engine races – my mind had become a racing engine, and that couldn’t be good.  I stopped taking photos then until I could find a way of taking photos that did not result in this thing happening to my mind.

So I hear Goodall talking of how prolific Mozart was in his later years I hear him telling me about someone who was sick, whose mind was racing and he could not stop it.

One reason this happens is that one is doing something that is too easy.  Also, when one is doing a thing according to ‘the rules’, rules of composition, rules of good English, rules of logic, any sort of rules at all: the thing is, machines operate by rules, and if you make your mind operate by rules  your are forcing it to operate like a machine and so you are liable to get these  ‘machine faults’ developing.
« Last Edit: 02/03/2013 12:23:34 by chris »


 

Offline evan_au

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Re: Creatively prolific or sick?
« Reply #1 on: 12/02/2013 10:16:30 »
It is said that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to get really good at something.

Part of that process is training your unconscious brain to carry out a wide range of activities automatically and autonomously, so that each action does not require a campaign of conscious thought. That training process is almost a matter of programming an autonomous machine to carry out the activity reliably and repeatably, in a variety of situations. This applies to learning a sport, learning a language, learning a game like chess, flying a plane, and learning social conventions.

To continue to spark creativity in one's activities, one needs to listen to the criticisms of others, and be challenged by the achievements of others - often in quite different directions to your own.

Apart from highly structured game environments like checkers and chess, autonomously learning these tasks has been far beyond the capabilities of our machines. Sometimes achievements in "Artificial Intelligence" could be accomplished by people painstakingly codifying their own experience and skills via a programming language, but that is quite different from the machine learning by itself.

However, I was recently surprised to hear of Philip Parker, who has published close to a million books in his lifetime by computer-assisted authoring; completing a book in 15-20 minutes sounds pretty amazing (I am sure someone must be interested in a market forecast for wooden toilet seats)! I am not sure if that is Creatively Prolific or just Sick - but his algorithms for generating weather forecasts and maths textbooks in languages with no current content sounds really valuable.

But for the rest of us, if you train in a skill, it becomes easier, and less of a conscious effort, freeing your conscious mind to go on to bigger and better things. Then it is merely a choice of "use it or lose it"... Being afraid of a skill is a sure way to lose the skill.
 

Offline JP

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Re: Creatively prolific or sick?
« Reply #2 on: 12/02/2013 13:22:45 »
Also cross-posted.
 

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Re: Creatively prolific or sick?
« Reply #2 on: 12/02/2013 13:22:45 »

 

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