Monday, 26 January 2015

The way of the subcreator - the 'genie' of genius

In considering creativity from a scientific perspective, much can be said - but at the heart of the phenomenon there is a mystery.

I have said that the truly creative essence of creativity is a 'black box' - in the sense that there cannot be a scientific description of genuine originality; but creativity is less like a black box than a living thing - a 'genie' within.

But this is not a genie who can be commanded like the slave of the lamp; but a genie who must be respected, nurtured and coaxed in order that he yield-up his gifts.

Indeed, in the case of a genius, the genie is the one in control. The genie ensures that he gets what he needs from his genius host - that the genie may find and follow his destiny; that he is fed with the knowledge, pictures, experiences he requires; that he is allocated enough time, the right situation, energy, attention...

And when the genie makes a discovery and gets a result; he ensures that the genius is flooded with happiness as reward; and that the genius is motivated to realize, and to communicate the genie's results.

In his essay On Fairy Stories, JRR Tolkien talked of subcreation; and suggested that it was an instance of Man emulating the divine Creator. Exactly so - Man is divine, not just in potential but in actuality - albeit feebly and partially and corruptedly; and creativity is a property of Man's divinity, just as much as free will/ agency is a property.

And creativity is a divine attribute, and the genius who lives in accord with his creative genie is a type of God-attuned Man: genius is a spiritual path; a path with the potential pitfalls of all spiritual paths, especially spiritual pride - but in its essence Good.

It is therefore an error to see a true genius as selfish. Insofar as he is humbly and faithfully serving his genie of creativity - he is following a divinely appointed destiny - for the ultimate benefit of all.

Whether or not a genius succeeds in making a recognized discovery - 'the way of the subcreator' is an intrinsically valid form of human life.


1 comment:

Ngoc Nguyen said...

"Indeed, in the case of a genius, the genie is the one in control."

I would agree, but not just in the cases of the positive which you then elaborate; but also in cases of the not so positive, such as in wanting to be "normal" (so-called), or even to wanting to be viewed as normal rather than abnormal, or, as one person so insensitively put it, a "weirdo." So, yes, I am saying that the genie is in control so as to keep the host genius from being normal and more conformed to being an outcast--even a pariah--or from just being able to enjoy or experience a (so-called) normal existence. That's how I see it (or, more accurately, that has been my experience so far).

"It is therefore an error to see a true genius as selfish."

I agree with this statement, too. I would just like to say here that anyone claiming genius or brilliance--or anyone even remotely connected to the rubric of "gifted" or "giftedness"--is more often than not automatically prone to being branded as arrogant, superior, or overly entitled. I know in my own experience more than once I had to defend and justify myself against such outright condemnations, and, in more milder instances, veiled innuendoes where my humility or the lack thereof was called into question. Such experiences are hurtful, even scarring, especially if you happen to be kind, thoughtful, and--to the best of your ability--selfless. I don't claim to be a "true genius." But I know that I am thoughtful and intelligent enough to recognize even a small part of myself in the conclusion.