Written by Mihaly Csikszentmihayli, author of Flow
I resonated strongly with pretty much everything he shares here about the experience and attributes of being creative. (In fact I feel like I live by these paradoxes–and they make me different, but different is good.)
What do you think? Is creativity something that can be cultivated? What if more of society practiced creativity as a daily thing, as a culture, as a way, as an identity? What would a platform co-op community look like if it were expressly committed to nurturing and rewarding creativity among its members?
I don’t usually think of creativity itself as something that can be directly “cultivated” (could be wrong there) but we can definitely encourage people to embrace the polarities and paradoxical elements of their characters. It would be nice if the expansion of such comfort zones was standard in our educational systems…
I sometimes if I run out of coffee filters use a paper towel instead. It works!
Then there is the difficulty of finding companions in an effort to address a social issue, to right an injustice, or to put on a public event of some kind. Certainly another kind of challenge but I think we should appreciate both kinds of creativity and pat ourselves on the back for the little things we accomplish with the aid of serendipity and luck.
The little efforts that come together are often what stimulates some big ideas.
The guy who invented Velcro noticed after a walk in the field how some small plants and burrs would stick to his trousers.
It’s a nice summary of the traits of the creative person. I can identity with most of it…but do see also that “creativity” can become an idealized notion ascribed to an individual (making them “special”); creativity becomes a market commodity. Whereas what’s actually important to the creative person is the source phenomenon, or “thing itself,” that calls for a novel response.
The 1% of inspiration, corresponding to the 99% of perspiration that Edison noted, is just as often well more than 1% of desperation. We do what we must!
At the same time, I do believe that creativity as a personal trait (and more exciting to me, as a collective manifestation) can be cultivated—but this process is no different than that of “waking up,” “coming into being,” or being “reborn.” People who become creative in the sense that Mihaly Csikszentmihayli describes are highly motivated to manifest what’s within them, using the means available. (Or creating them first, if needed!)
A platform explicitly designed to support, catalyze, and amplify this process—insofar as we see creativity as a meta-good, which I believe it is (alongside other values or qualities such as compassion, truth, justice, etc.)—would be a great thing to create! (But you knew that already.)
I think there’s a lot we can learn from creativity theory, which can inform design choices, experiments, and social practices. It’s also worth noting some of the potential pitfalls that “creative types” often fall into (e.g., self-marginalization) and find ways to keep the juices flowing through the system.
There’s a lot to unpack here, and let’s! I’m especially interested in the issue of learned “self-marginalization” by creatives, insofar as it creates a natural barrier to more and greater creative expressions to become manifest. This could be viewed, indeed, as a limiting factor in Cosmos’ holistic growth: of user relationships/collaborations, user productions/outputs, user development, etc.
I like your connection to the “creative coming forth” as a process of “rebirthing” or “becoming.” We keep showing up at our best, and we keep molting what our “best” looks like. And endless diversifying and maturing process. How can we (the community)/the platform midwife such continuous birthing?
Lastly, regarding your first couple paragraphs Marco: yeah, I’m less interested in how one thinks of oneself (creative-identified) and more of empirical evidence regarding different tendencies and abilities that correlate to creative capacity–capacities which may be highly natural or potentially, nurturable.
Infinite Conversations is a project of Cosmos Cooperative, a creative co-op for people with “visionary tendencies.” It’s like a YMCA for the mind and soul. Come in, exercise your imagination, write your heart out; let your mind play. Work your science and logic muscles, too: Conversation is the dojo of reason. It’s all welcome. And, check out our nifty guidelines, courtesy of the humans at Civilized Discourse Construction Kit, Inc., who develop (and host) the open-source software underlying this site.
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