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.”

Psychic tension is at its highest just at the moment preceding creation, just as we experience at the moment of orgasm. That is the point at which the old forms and structures have been let go and the new are about to be grasped. It occurs in this gap between the old synthesis and the new one. As mentioned before, creation occurs at what students of creativity call a turning point, the moment of creation in which something old dies and something new is born.

As Neumann points out, it is the unbearable tension between the opposites that creativity discharges. It is this tension of opposites that the artist’s creative production relieves. But the conflict returns again and again and he must produce again and again to find temporary relief and retain his sanity. In creative people, the failure to do creative work will lead to suicidal fantasies. The fantasies represent the wish to escape the unbearable tension that persists.

Still, artists sometimes fail to see the truth that the tension can be relieved only by their own work, instead of addictive behaviors. It never works. If the creative urge is ignored or if it is relieved by substitutes, it will destroy them.

If America reaches the point where it needs profound, fundamental change, it will come from creative people who can bring feminine/maternal values and perspectives to bear and that will combine with the masculine/paternal to bring a new vision, just as outsiders like Galileo, Copernicus, Darwin, and others did.


Ayres said...

Generally web logs invite a pastiche of commentary and reaction from the complexes of the readers. I notice you have no comments on this site, and thereby infer that you are declining to enter them here. Perhaps there is another forum where you permit discussion at length?

Guilt with a Twist said...

Thank you for your inquiry concerning commentary. You are most welcome to make comments; however, this blog is not managed by Lawrence Staples. We don't have a forum at this time. The blog site is used mostly to introduce Dr. Staples work to the public.