Friday, May 9, 2008

Some Prerequisites of the Creative Process

by Lawrence H. Staples
author of The Creative Soul 
and Guilt with a Twist


There are a number of prerequisites for the creative process to begin. One is a gap, a void or empty space, which myth tells us preceded the creation of the world. The womb is an empty space. So is a blank page or canvas. Another is an impregnating seed. The impregnating seed can be provided by intention or conscious will. This seed can be an opening sentence, as in Dinesen’s case, or it may be a single word or a color or brush mark suggested by imagination or by a dream, or fantasy. At the moment of conception, the artist’s unconscious is the womb, the creative matrix, into which the impregnating seed has fallen.

Receptivity to the seed is a feminine principle found in all writers and artists. The principle by no means demands a specific sexual orientation; but without question it involves a psychological orientation. Erich Neumann, the great second-generation Jungian analyst and writer, explains this in his book, Art and the Creative Unconscious. He noted that “In the creative man, this feminine principle [of receptivity], which in the.. adult man becomes discernible as an anima, is usually associated with the image of the maternal.” The importance of the mother archetype to the creative man leads to an enormous tension with the world of the fathers. In the artist, this tension can only be relieved by creative production. In his work, he must “slay the father, dethrone the conventional world of the traditional Canon” and find a new synthesis. It requires an integration of his shadow and ego. In opposition to the demands of patriarchal dogma, the creative man honors his wholeness by bearing the tension of the opposites until “a third can be born which transcends… the opposites and so combines parts of both positions into an unknown, new creation. The result takes the form of a new symbol, which contains the opposites and yet is neither.”