I've been reading one of the books that I bought from Amazon recently. It's penned by a very Harvard-ish guy who writes thick (slow read for all the big words intentionally used). It's called "Creating Minds," and is a rather intense study of creative folks at the early part of the 20th century. He covers 7 people: Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, T.S. Eliot, Martha Graham, and Mahatma Gandhi. So my immediate reaction to his list was: Freud was creative? Gandhi? But he explains that "the words art and creativity have become closely linked in our society. There is no necessary association: people can be creative in any sphere of life." And he's right. It's like the word intelligence being associated with the retention of facts. They have nothing to do with each other. Michael Jordan may have been an average student, but his physical genius is unquestioned. Likewise, we're all intelligent somewhere, just as I think we all have the capability to be creative somewhere as well - not necessarily in the arts. So Freud and Gandhi fit well in a list of creative folk.
The author, Howard Gardner, argues that creativity is intrinsically linked to our ability to be childlike. Which is to look at something as though you've never seen it before and to ask the most naïve and fundamental of questions. "Why is the sky blue?" is a question that removes assumptions. It slows us down and makes us think. The creator will stop to ask the "stupid" question and look at it again, with a fresh set of eyes. Through their vision, we see things differently. I think that's the charm of creativity. The world is new again. Creativity takes us back to childhood, whether by doing it or by observing it.
Freud approached the subject of how the mind works, and in particular, he gained traction with his work on dreams, which started with his understanding of repression. It was on this that he founded the field of psychoanalysis. We encounter potentially upsetting notions and our minds stifle an awareness of these things and we cover them up. Why deal with the ugliness of life, we reason. Freud believed that our brains use dreams to sift through this mess of covered trauma. Therapy then allows us to uncover the buried and confront it and let it out, so to speak. And so we feel better. Despite everyone through history having an awareness of dreams, Freud looked at dreams in a new way and connected a few dots and upon this new thinking, millions of therapists make their living today by helping us work through our repression. Kind of like a masseuse working out the knot in a deep tissue stiffness.
Likewise, I think creativity itself is a means for this. It stirs the soul. Music does this for me much more than art does. There's something about finding a simple chord progression and then singing to it that releases a lot. The pressure of the withheld blows free and escapes me and I'm relaxed. Seeing colors and textures together in certain ways has this same effect, but not as forcefully. And writing, too, now that I think of it. In fact, writing may be the more powerful of the three for me. Or at least the most concrete. Music is a bit raw and primitive. Which is maybe why I need to write. It's like dreaming, for me. Which might explain my abrupted sleep schedule and my prolific nature. I don't know... but I'll chew on it.