Creativity is the engine of Humanistic religion. Harmony is its navigation system.
People are drawn to creativity because it encourages them to be free. Yet many people stifle their creativity. For that reason, creativity is an ideal as well as a daily practice.
This week, we will explore the elements of creativity in each of the domains of Being in our relations to the world: enthusiasm in the emotions, imagination in the intellect and innovation in practice. Over the next three weeks, we will explore the elements of creativity as it relates to our sacred relations with living beings, including ourselves: the Truth force in the intellect, Love in the emotions and Faith as the driving force behind creative action. We have reached harvest time in our calendar year. Great things may happen. The choice is largely our own.
. . . Leonardo observed details that most of us overlook. He drew and described the effect of the column of water hitting the surface, the waves that emanate from the impact, the percussion of the water in the pool, the movement of the air bubbles that are submerged by the falling water, and the way the bubbles pop into floral-like rosettes when the reach the surface. He noticed that eddies containing bubbles are short-lived because they dissipate as the bubbles rise . . . . Try noticing all that when you next fill a sink. [Walter Isaacson, Leonardo da Vinci, (Simon & Schuster, 2017), p. 433.]
- Daniel J. Boorstin, The Creators: A History of Heroes in the Imagination (Random House, 1992).
- Paul Johnson, Creators: From Chaucer and Durer to Picasso and Disney (HarperCollins, 2006).
- Ashley Bryan, Ashley Bryan: Words To My Life's Song (Atheneum, 2009).
- Martin Geck, Johann Sebastian Bach: Life and Work (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006).
- Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity (Little, Brown & Company, 2008).
- Oliver Sacks, The River of Consciousness (Alfred A. Knopf, 2017): “Sacks covers the evolution of his life, the workings of memory and the nature of creativity.”
- Michael Sims, Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes (Bloomsbury, 2017). “How Arthur Conan Doyle, a yound doctor and struggling novelist, devised his indelible sleuths.”
- Lydia Davis, Essays One (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2019): Davis relates how she prepares her essays.
Biographies of Isaac Newton:
- Richard S. Westfall, Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton (Cambridge University Press, 1981).
- James Gleick, Isaac Newton (Pantheon, 2003).
- Edward Dolnick, The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society & the Birth of the Modern World (Harper, 2011).
Other narratives on creativity:
- Michael Pollan, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation (The Penguin Press, 2013). “ . . . the richness of his own engagement with cooking refutes his own nostalgia.”
Technical and Analytical Readings
- James C. Kaufman and Robert J. Sternberg, eds., The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity (Cambridge University Press, 2010).
- Robert J. Sternberg, ed., Handbook of Creativity (Cambridge University Press, 1998).
- Robert J. Sternberg, Elena L. Grigorenko and Jerome L. Singer, eds., Creativity: From Potential to Realization (American Psychological Association, 2004).
- James C. Kaufman and Robert J. Sternberg, eds., The International Handbook of Creativity (Cambridge University Press, 2006).
- R. Keith Sawyer, Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation (Oxford University Press, 2006).
- Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention (Harper-Collins 1996).
- Robert Olen Butler, From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction (Grove Press, 2005).
- Robert W. Weisberg, Creativity: Understanding Innovation in Problem Solving, Science, Invention, and the Arts (Wiley, 2006).
- Nassir Ghaemi, A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness (The Penguin Press, 2011): "A specialist in bipolar disorder explores whether madness improves political leadership." The author concludes: "The best crisis leaders are either mentally ill or mentally abnormal."The best crisis leaders are either mentally ill or mentally abnormal. The author's conclusion supports the data that show that highly creative people think unconventionally, and that this is a valuable aspect of leadership in crisis.
- Jonah Lehrer, Imagine: How Creativity Works (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012): a popular science of creativity, “a collection of interesting stories and studies to ponder and research further . . . but make your own careful choices about whether to believe what it says about the science of creativity”.
Documentary and Educational Films
- : illustrating that creativity comes in many packages
- Editors of Phaidon, 30,000 Years of Art: The Story of Human Creativity Across Time and Space (Phaidon Press, 2007).
- Tom Lichtenheld, Bridget's Beret (Henry Holt & Co., 2010).
- Edward Carey, The Swallowed Man: A Novel (Riverhead Books, 2021): “. . . a riff on the entwined themes of fatherhood and creative spark. . .”
- Patricia Lockwood, No One Is Talking About This: A Novel (Riverhead Books, 2021): “Lockwood is a modern word witch, her writing splendid and sordid by turns. Her prose rambles from animal gags to dirty talk to infinitely beautiful meditations on the nature of perception that deflate and turn absurd before they can turn philosophical.”
Film and Stage
- The Last Metro: the creativity is in the film making, not in its characters
- A Little Princess: the young heroine’s individuality wins out over calamity and a muggle-headmistress’ attempts to quash it.
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Every great composer is a creative genius. The requirements for being able to create a musical masterpiece makes this so. Therefore, I cannot select one composer, or artist, to represent creativity in an art form that is by nature creative. So instead I will present some of the leading writings about various musical forms, and invite you to listen to any great work of music, for they all illustrate the highly prized art of creativity.
- Carl Parrish, ed., A Treasury of Early Music: (Dover Publications, 2012).
- Carl Parrish and John F. Ohl, Masterpieces of Music Before 1750: An Anthology of Musical Examples from Gregorian Chant to J.S. Bach (W.W. Norton, 1974).
- Daniel R. Melamed, J.S. Bach and the (Cambridge University Press, 1995).
- “Tomorrow Is the Question!” album (1959)
- “Free Jazz” album (1961)
- “Ornette!” album (1961)
- “Dancing in Your Head” album (1977)
- “Body Meta” album (1978)
- “Virgin Beauty” album
- In Cologne, 1987
- Double quartet, December 21, 1960
- “Made in America”, documentary film
In legend, the Hindustani late night classical rag, Raga Megh is capable of producing rain. “Megh” means “cloud”. Usually the rag is performed during the Monsoon season (performances by Mohi Baha'ud'din Dagan, Kushal Das and Amir Khan).
- Teodorescu-Ciocănea’s composed her ballet “Le Rouge et la Noire” (“The Red and the Black”) to evoke a collision between Neoclassical ballet and contemporary dance.
- Steven Halpern, “Enhancing Creativity” album
- Michael Wollny, Émilie Parisien, Tim Lefebvre and Christian Lillinger, "XXXX": this is as creative a musical endeavor as we are likely to hear.
Vex not thou the poet’s mind
With thy shallow wit:
Vex not thou the poet’s mind;
For thou canst not fathom it.
Clear and bright it should be ever,
Flowing like a crystal river;
Bright as light, and clear as wind.
[from Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “The Poet’s Mind”]
- Valery Yaklovich Bryusov, “Creative Work”