Friday, July 22, 2016

Creativity; skill, sensitivity and trauma?

Someone gave me a nice big slice of unpublished writing the other day.

It was great in so many ways I think it's going to take rather a while to wade through all the possibilities it's set off.

What's been brewing for me for rather a long time is writing a book, which would possibly be more like a collection of essays, sort of tentatively called 'Creativity for Dummies' except that most probably, as a title, wouldn't strike the audience I might be after to even pick it up.

And one of the chapters, or essays, would have been about how this piece of writing lent to me, in confidence, started out except I can't, of course, use an excerpt from it but I did come across a similar portrayal of the ideas behind it while watching one of my favourite shows QI.

It was the story of a composer when young who'd had synaesthesia but didn't know it. His parents had taken him to concerts and he'd taken for granted that the lights being darkened before the music played was because everyone else had what he had which was the music creating all kinds of colour displays for him to enjoy.

So this young man possibly without the synaesthasia might not have been so engulfed in music to go on to be a composer as well he might not have been 'placed' in an environment whereby the music he had access to created the same chance to inhabit it so personally to set him on a course of it being his life's work.

To me then this question of how we perceive, and even possibly much depth there is behind the perception, is of just as much importance, if not more, than what is being perceived.

My own family story, and I remember nothing of this yet my whole life has been about adjusting and adapting to it, is that at about a year and a half old I wasn't interested in life, I was lethargic and un-animated somehow so my parents took me to a doctor and this man said my eyes weren't very good and they needed to be stimulated and he suggested that my father take me for walks and encourage me to look at things. So he did but then Dad added his own two cents worth and gave me paper and crayons to draw what might have interested me.

We could say then that this is how we learn to draw but what also sits underneath that is I learned to be in the world by watching and walking, journeys of looking which were then followed by attempts to record those journeys.

This though came with a side effect and that was that I drew so much most of it was thrown out, it was waste paper, and good riddance too as I doubt much of it was good but this too has effected my art practise quite significantly... I'm really not very interested in the art I make after it's finished. I mean sucking up the odd bit of admiration never killed anyone so I've never been entirely adverse to that part of the process, the results of doing, but it always was the doing that has done it for me though, as I'm getting older, the significance of the watching is becoming something just as, if not even more, important than the doing.

Then when I was 5, at the end of my first year at school, there was another story which too seems to have significant bearing and that was my father telling me that all the drawings we'd done during the year and took home on that last day shouldn't be thrown out, cast aside on the walk home as all the other art I did, and he made me promise.

It was a steelmill town and so the fathers of first years were given the afternoon off for this special occasion, maybe part of a folklore lazily abided to as some illusion within industry to the care of children, I have no idea what it was but, in this family story, it was quite an event.

As the story goes all the other children dutifully arrived bearing their gifts and in driveways down our street the glories of life were revitalised except where was I? Time passed and still there was no me but then eventually I did arrive though I didn't have any drawings... Dad was angry and I told lies "They kept them, I wasn't allowed them'. My Dad, as far as knew never hit me but I'm pretty sure I would have gotten a good telling off and I would surely felt scared, fearful and also, within that, disturbed at not being believed.

Turns out I wasn't lying as after summer holidays and going back as a first grader I came home with a note that my drawings were so advanced they'd been sent to the local university... end of story.

Here I sit now just about fifty years later and I want to somehow unravel what seems, in shorthand, to be creativity as skill, sensitivity and trauma. That the three together somehow make up a trinity of sorts whereby it isn't about gifts at all, there is no instilled ability, or at least not so much as a possibly quite slight inclination towards certain mind-body skills being a little easier to get started in, but that its far more about somehow setting the scene in which the three can come together and be what will eventually result in some talent.

Now I'm suddenly reminded of a quote.

A man who works with his hands is a labourer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist.    Louis Niser.

Quite interestingly I could easily then ascribe hands to skill, brain to sensitivity and heart to trauma without too much of a jump. Oops maybe its brain to trauma and heart to sensitivity... hmm?

Except why trauma? Trauma comes from the Greek wound and this is interesting.

I'm kind of sensing now that I'm on the right track... theres something here worth unraveling.

Trauma then is quite loaded in a psychological way... as in it's not a good thing and best avoided but if we take it back to it's original sense and that of wound it's almost a different story altogether, it's not a bad thing at all and maybe even a necessity. It's then, not quite the 'that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger thing, the idea that to get talent, ability and skills that theres an abrasive thing going on, sandpaper on wood even, to polish and make bright.

The kid who loves running and gets faster and slips and falls, abrades skin and bleeds, teaches themselves to be more aware, not so lost in the talent but aware that it can cost, that slipping away from vigilance means hurt...

Then there is the idea of where a line might be and where things become dangerous.Is this then where sensitivity comes in?

Now I'm lost. I'll have to come back to this.

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