Friday, June 1, 2012

Creativity -- Part II

If you jumped in last week, you'll have read my post where I talked about creativity, specifically whether it could be taught. Through this line of thinking, I'd come up with two questions. What do we access when we use creativity? and How important is education to art and creativity?

Today, the first question is going to be addressed.

I'm proud to introduce a fellow writer, friend, and blogger Zackery Wilmot (Z.M. Wilmot). He is an independently published author of horror and sci-fi. His site can be found here. Zack and I also work together on a collaborative project called Astral Tide. The project also includes young writer Stephen Huang. I have plugged the project once before. But in case you didn't check it out, you can here. We are really making some good stories there. Feel free to swing by. Mr. Wilmot also has a Tarot site where he shares his knowledge in Esoteric Arts. Follow his Twitter page here.

Without further ado, here is Zack Wilmot's post.

What do we access when we use creativity?

Creativity is an essential aspect of the human experience. Without it, the human race would not be where it is today. Creativity, innovation, imagination, thinking outside the box - all of these things have allowed us as a species to advance to our current level of existence. Yet, despite the centrality of creativity in our lives, the phenomenon is remarkably ill-defined, and its source even less so.

Where does creativity come from? Some might argue that creativity is merely the result of firing neurons and shifting brain patterns, like other forms of consciousness. Others might argue that creativity comes from afflatus divine, or divine inspiration. Some might say that creativity comes from one's subconscious, manifesting itself in dreams. Others might claim a Muse is responsible for their creativity, and most might even say that creativity comes from the human consciousness.

In my own humble opinion, all of the above explanations are correct. It is hard to say that there is a single source for creativity, as everyone interacts with creativity in different ways, sees it differently, and is affected by it in different ways. Everyone draws upon their own specific source for creativity, but ultimately all of these sources come from the realm of the animus.

In the magickal view of the world, there are three realms of existence: corpus, spiritus, and animus. The corpus is the physical, material realm that we all live in and interact with. In the corpus, creativity expresses itself in two ways: the firing of neurons and the development of neural pathways that form the physical base that allow higher functions to occur (and higher realms to exist); and the physical, material creations of our creativity, such as a new technology or a piece of art. The spiritus is the realm of life, energy and vitality, and it provides the drive and life for everything we do. The animus is the realm of consciousness, abstractions, and, most importantly for the present topic, the imagination. Creativity ultimately is derived from the realm of the animus.

Like I said before, no two people experience creativity in the same way, and the way that everyone experiences this creativity is shaped by their presence in the realms of the corpus and the spiritus. Poor material conditions (corpus) or ailing health (corpus/spiritus) may prevent creativity from being realized, while good material conditions and amazing health may do the opposite. Additionally, one's own place in the physical and vital realms influences the nature of everyone's animus.

So, what exactly is the animus? In magickal thought, all three of the aforementioned realms are just as real as the others, but exist on different planes. For example, when H. P. Lovecraft had vivid nightmares of Cthulhu, he was experiencing a phenomenon on the astral plane (an aspect of the animus) that sapped his spiritus (he was not always mentally stable due to these dreams, and his vitality was questionable at best) and that affected his physical health (corpus), while also providing him with stories that he wrote down into real, tangible pieces of art in the forms of books (corpus again).
However, the reciprocity of the realms is revealed here as well, as Lovecraft's physical creation was intimately linked with an abstract creation - the visions that his words placed into the heads of his readers. Many of these readers were inspired by his words and filled with the drive (spiritus) to go and create works of their own - adding even further to the realm of the animus.

As the above example illustrates, the three realms are inextricably interconnected; each one is made possible by the other, and each is just as real as the other in its own plane. Creativity as a semi-describable phenomenon occurs in the realm of the animus, affects the spiritus, and affects/manifests in the corpus. The interpretation of this animus relies on physical and other conditions, and accounts for varying perceptions of creativity. For example, someone raised in a religious household might claim that the creativity they pulled from the animus was inspired by God, whereas a Greek bard might claim that the Muses sent them creativity. Many authors, musicians, and artists themselves claim to have a "muse:" a little voice in the back of their head, a physical or metaphysical being that appears to them, or sporadic bouts of inspiration. The animus is both conscious and subconscious; dreams are a way for the animus to communicate its unconscious ideas to your consciousness, and to help you better come to terms with yourself as a whole. Dreams, then, are also a sort of muse in and of themselves.

This "muse," in whatever form it takes, is a representation of a person's personal animus. The form and contents of this animus are created by several factors, including one's physical environment, one's vitality, one's upbringing, and one's independent thoughts,  among others. The most important aspect that goes into creating the animus is, perhaps, experience. Yes, many new innovations are extremely alien to anything produced before, but almost all innovation is built on what was already there, adding a new twist to it. What people see affects how they think; in other words, the corpus influences the animus. Living beings store their experiences in their memories, which is a central aspect of the animus, and it is tapped into during the creative process frequently. This all adds up into the consciousness of a person, as separate from their physical body, that is also called the animus, and it is a personal one. It is from this consciousness created by the factors surrounding them that creativity is drawn.

There is also a second kind of animus that is almost as important as the personal animus, though its influence is more hidden. Just as every living being has a corpus, spiritus, and animus, the world as a whole also has one of each: the corpus mundi, spiritus mundi, and animus mundi. Each one of these consists of the sum of all corpi, spiriti, and animi in the world, and the relationships between them mirrors the relationships between the personal realms. The animus mundi, or Soul of the World, is the term referring to what Emile Durkheim called the Collective Consciousness: the sum total of all human thoughts, emotions, memories, and imagination. As everyone is linked to the animus mundi through their own personal animi, the world spirit as a whole is another very important source of the animus, as other people's consciousness can leak into your own directly through the animus mundi, or by more corporeal means (reading a book or learning history, for example). In this way, creativity is also drawn from the collective consciousness, which can account for why some innovations were made in multiple parts of the world at around the same. One good example of this is the creation of calculus, developed by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz independently of each other and around the same time. As each of their creative thoughts permeated the animus mundi, they were able to interact with each other on a different plane of existence invisible to most people on Earth.

So, then, what are we drawing on when we use creativity? We are drawing on our subconscious thoughts, our past experiences, our conscious thoughts, our memories, our upbringing, our biology, our body, our spirit, our soul, as well as the body, spirit, and soul of the world, all of which come together to create an entity on an abstract plane known as the animus, though it is known by many other names as well. It is from the animus that everything draws its creativity.

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