Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Creative Gap

by Lawrence H. Staples

The energy that observes the boundaries, and the energy that attempts to break through them, are equally limited. We never reach perfection, but we get closer by the creative transformation that occurs in the tiny gap between acquisition and expression, between expression and editing, and between editing back again to acquisition. Creation occurs not in perfection, but in the gap between perfection and imperfection. Perfection is the enemy of creation. If reached, it would stop creation, because creation would become irrelevant. Creation actually depends on an inability to reach perfection. Maybe God does not want a perfect world, or a definite plan or purpose, because he knows that would put an end to his creating. This would be in agreement with the belief of evolutionists that there is not an intelligent design because all the mistakes found in nature argue against it. Maybe God just likes to create and does not want to stop doing something he likes. Perhaps, God imposes limits upon himself so that he, as the Creator, will not work himself out of a job. It is a strange paradox. If I may be bold enough to speculate and withstand its blasphemy, perhaps God is not perfect. Perhaps, God is an evolutionary creative process just as life and nature appear to be. Creation seems to be a permanent condition. Perhaps, that is what Aristotle meant, when he said that the only thing permanent is change.

In writing, the Creator appears by deduction to lie in the gap between the last word and the next word. In music, the Creator lies in the gap between the last note and the next note. In art, the Creator lies between the last brush stroke and the next. We do not see the Creator but we know he is there, implied in the words and images that are produced, unless we think we are it. In that case, we are in danger. It is in this gap, where creation occurs, that we find the Creator, if we are lucky. It is in this gap where the duality of existence comes close enough together to constellate the Creator who sparks our creative production. In this gap is the present moment when all creation occurs. If we are away from the present moment, we are separated from the precise time when the gift of creation is given to us.

Sometimes we have physical conditions that provide us with a direct experience of this creative process. When this happens, the creative process is no longer a theory. We know it directly. This can be seen in a condition known as atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular heart rhythm experienced by many. When a person is in atrial fibrillation, he will usually experience a return to normal heart rhythm. Doctors use the word conversion to describe this phenomenon, which often mysteriously happens of its own accord. When it does not happen medication or shock bring about the conversion. Often, but not always, that works.

I personally have atrial fibrillation. Twice during an atrial fibrillation episode my heart stopped for several seconds and started up again of its own accord, returning, also of its own accord, to normal rhythm. In this tiny gap of a few seconds, I went from life to death to life. There was a transformation in which two opposites occurred in proximity and resulted in the creation of another state. After the last episode, my cardiologist implanted a pacemaker to prevent a recurrence of the stoppage, the “pause,” as they refer to it. Immediately after both episodes I had the subjective feeling of being saved. There was a conversion in my heart rhythm, which resulted in a numinous experience for me that seems similar to what people describe in religious experiences. It seems strange indeed that medicine would choose a word for physical transformation that is identical to the religious word for it. When I had this experience, I could not ignore the subjective feeling that I had witnessed the process of creation in that gap between opposites. This physical process of transformation and creation feels subjectively similar to what happens in the gap between the last word written and the next word, between the last note composed and the next. Masculine and feminine somehow merge in that gap and create the next new thing. The next new thing for me was a renewed heartbeat and a return to life.

There is a mathematical concept that also suggests that creation occurs in a tiny gap. It is in this gap that zero converts to infinity and infinity converts to zero. It is as if the creative mystery---with whatever name we wish to give it--- hides somewhere in this gap, out of sight. We know that something is created in the gap because something that is not seen in the gap emerges from the other side of it.

We know that if we divide 1 by successively smaller numbers that can approach but cannot reach 0, the result of that division approaches, but does not reach infinity. The idea is that nothing goes into something an infinite number of times. We also know that while we can posit 0 and infinity as the limit of dividing 1 by successively larger or smaller numbers, we cannot actually calculate either 0 or infinity. For example, we can divide 1 by 1, then by ½, then by ¼, and, ultimately, by one-billionth or one-quadrillionth, and so on. As the fraction approaches 0, it approaches that precise point where 0 would produce an answer of infinity, if we could in fact finish the calculation. It is the point where the smallest becomes the biggest.* This point, just before something converts to its opposite, is the outer limit where one of the pairs of opposites—East for example—changes into its other pair—West, just as the tiniest number converts to the largest when 0 is reached. We cannot actually calculate or reach that point. We can assume it, but we cannot reach it. If we could in fact see this point of transformation rather than assume it, we might see the face of God, the Creator himself. Ancient wisdom, however, tells us that it is a point of such terrifying power that the human ego could be blown away by the experience. It is too small to see physically, like subatomic particles that themselves contain terrifying power.

Thus, we might speculate that the Creator, for our own protection, himself is tiny and hides out of sight in this creative gap. Perhaps, although we have not yet found the means of knowing, the Creator may be tinier than the smallest atom. That idea may be behind the Biblical admonition that urges us to become humble, small, like little children, or small enough to pass through the eye of a needle, if we are to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Creation occurs at the limit where the smallest converts to the largest. It is at the point of enantiodromia, just before zero converts to its opposite that we may find that the opposites are two aspects of a deeper unity, a mystery that is not manifest in the visible dual reality where we live and work. Approaching that gap may be the point where we get just close enough to God to pick up the reflections of his rays of creativity without being burned by them.

* A real mathematician would likely be horrified at these oversimplified explanations of the concepts of 0 and infinity. Entire books are written on the subject. Although I have no worthy credentials in this discipline, it appears that infinity and 0 remain mysteries because they represent concepts that are not capable of being calculated, known, reached, or seen. The mysterious qualities of these concepts are shared with whatever we want to think of as God.

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