On Creativity by Sudhir Kakar & Gunter Blamberger
As a student of Innovation, creativity and the psychology behind it have been a subject of interest for me. Who better than Sudhir Kakar to read about the subject? This book On Creativity is a part of series of books on various subjects like Dreams, Death & Dying based on conferences and seminars on these subjects. I had enjoyed reading Death & Dying and was looking forward to reading, On Creativity since then.
There are some parts of the book that I understood very well. And I must admit there were some parts that were beyond my capability. Like the chapter on Freud – which probably expected a bit of familiarity with the subject from the reader. The book begins by comparing Indian notion of creativity with western. Sudhir Kakar explains it so simply that it puts many things in perspective. For a travel writer, it gives the answer to why so many of our ancient works of art have no name associated with it. In India or rather in Asian cultures ethical conduct is an inseparable part of one’s creativity.
Look how the author defines creative potential. “A gift for re-interpreting what is taken for granted, a propensity to search for and resolve contradictions, an aptitude for coining metaphors and connecting unrelated ideas in a novel way”. Silpa Shastra describes an Indian artist and is quoted “The Painter must be a good man, no sluggard, nor given to anger; holy, learned, self-controlled, devout and charitable”. He sums up the difference between the eastern and western notion of creative genius. Explains it by quoting Coomaraswamy. “The Indian Artist, though a person is not a personality”. He sums up the process of creativity through a Buddhist metaphor – Lotus – a flower opening to Sun & Light – as the symbol of creativity, symbolizing the transcendent, we also need to remember that the lotus grows in mud, the symbol of biological life historical unconscious.
The chapter on Chinese Creativity by Weihua Niu is my favorite chapter in, On Creativity. The author brings in two concepts of creation. First is – Ex Nihilo that assumes that God created the world single-handedly. Secondly – Creation in Situ that assumes creation exists in pre-existing context. It also assumes that creature and creator are continuous. Roger T Ames describes 5 differences in these two concepts, everyone should read it. The chapter delves on the difference between two leading thoughts in Chinese philosophy – each led by Confucius and Tao. This is an extremely insightful chapter that highlights – Chinese people believe that everyone has a potential to be creative. One does not need to be the genius or possess special abilities for that. They also put emphasis on skill, working on achieving perfection and contributing to the field. Creativity is valuable only when it is recognized by others.
Co-author Gunter Blamberger’s chapter looks at how the notion of creativity in western world needs to move from a creative genius to the process of creativity. He also brings out the need for a solution as a stimulus for creativity. An interesting read. The last chapter on neurosciences is an interesting look at the future of ‘study of creativity’. It actually brings out how much we do not know about the process of creativity. And how different disciplines need to come together to explore the subject.
Have you wondered about people who are creative, their process of creativity? And how different societies view and treat creativity and creative people – Read, On Creativity.