On Being, a radio show from American Public Media, featured an interview by Krista Tippett of Rex Jung on creativity. Listen here. Fascinating.
Jung distinguishes intelligence, the ability to acquire facts, from creativity, the ability to connect information in novel and useful ways. He makes this distinction, on the one hand, because brain scans show that different mechanisms and regions of the brain are involved in these two kinds of pursuits, and on the other, people who demonstrate intelligence aren’t necessarily creative, while people with brain deficits making intelligence difficult, can still be phenomenally creative. Some of course are both: Albert Einstein, Marie Curie in the sciences. Gandhi, Buddha, in the realm of society and relationships.
What helps with creativity? Being bored, taking walks, doing yoga, gardening. Any activity in fact that allows the portions of the fact-acquiring brain to move into the background, allowing the creative brain to make sideways associations and connections. Creativity takes time and quiet. And a letting go.
It can mean pushing the envelope and working outside a comfort zone. It can mean taking one step beyond, following the idea/feeling/sense, without worrying about who might be looking or listening.
It also takes practice. Jung offers Picasso as an example: Picasso made (something like) 20,000 pieces of art in his lifetime. He was always making something. He was always playing. Not everything was a success. But the river was running and he knew how to let it run on the surface.
Art(ing) is about finding meaning. Some satisfying melding of thoughts, emotions, sensations that is novel and useful. That engages and surprises. That answers questions that we might not even know we were asking.