Human beings are predestined to live in two realms - the mental realm of mind and the realm of objective empiric reality within which other humans are living as well. It is the first "subjective" realm of man's psyche within which new knowledge is produced - by unprecedented synthesis of previously analysed elements. Source of these elements is the second realm - in "empiric" one finds all valuable methods of the past which can be immitated ; all new data patterns which just wait to be recognized and further analyzed. I say that the very core of a creative process can be described by interaction within these two worlds, by an interaction which can be described as "objective adjustment through subjective approach" (2) . What does it mean? And what obstacles can block one's progress on path of such understood creativity ?
Objective world differs from the subjective world of wishful thinking at least in one property - it exists even after I stop believing in it. Objective world is composed of facts, which is just another name for the state-of-things. Subjective, on the other hand, is not concerned with what is done. It is concerned with what is percieved, what is felt, and at last but not least, with what is thought. As Wittgenstein says „We create images of facts…Sentence is the image of fact“ (3) . My sensoric system creates an internal representation of the external facts and it is this internal representation which is the content of mind. By “internal representation“ I don’t mean to say that idea is represented by some neurolinguistic or structure within our brain or the field around this brain- which is true - but I try to say that this internal representation is the very last representation. After it comes only conscious experience.
Let's repeat - there are facts in the empiric world. Man receives information describing these facts and creates an internal representation of this fact within his mind. Something from the outside is approaching the subjectivity inside. This is „subjective approach“.
Within the mind, the facts and the things which constitute the fact are represented by structure of basic signs - phonemes, syllables, words, graphic symbols, images. "I understand thinking as realizing operations with these signs" (4) . Whenever I percieve, whenever I experience, my brain tries to recognize any pattern of usage of these signs which constitute this experience. This is the very process in which any sign gets its meaning.
What I want to tell is that „creative thinking“ is nothing else than forming a structural connection between existing elements of thinking - signs within the „subjective realm of mind“ where all these elements are stored. Afterwards it is possible by applying „will“ to realize these new subjective ideas in the objective realm - this is the second part of creative process which I call "creative doing".
Let’s explain these too abstract and too fuzzy words upon an example. Let’s say anyone of us knows what a „wing“ is. Many times we have seen a wing of a bird or a wing of an airplane, some of us maybe even studied physics and aerodynamics. So, hopefully, anyone of us owns at least some form of the sign „wing“. We also have some understanding, some meaning for what „homo sapiens“ is. This in fact is a whole set, whole complex of elements, but of course as in every calculus we can substitute complex of sign with a new sign. That's what our brain is doing all the time.
Let’s now create a non-existing connection between the element „wing“ and the element „homo sapiens“. By this interconnecting of previously grabbed elements, by this „synthesis“ we obtain a new structure, new element which does not neccessarily need to exist within the objective realm. Thus we obtain a new element represented by sign „angel“. By making a connection - maybe even a „material“ synaptic one - between elements „wing“ and „homo sapiens“ we have obtained something new - an „angel“.
There is only one obstacle which comes to my mind when thinking about this "subjective approach" part of creative process:
· Limited access to the source of basic elements. ( „In my world, in my empiric reality I have never seen a „wing“. I don’t know what you mean by it.“)
This a silent yet extremly dangerous enemy .We simply cannot know that something is missing when we are not aware of its existence. How can a man in North Korea want a connection to the Internet when he doesn't know Internet exist? How can a city child dream about a unicorn if it had never seen a horse?
From the time we master language in childhood, the vast amount of information we get about the world gets to us through this medium of language. So when I speak about "limited access to the source of basic elements" I have also language on mine mind.
Slowly, slowly , so slowly that one doesn't notice it are many natural chaotic - deterministic but unpredictable - phenomena disappearing from our lives, being pushed out from our world by man-made "order". Many words like "oak" , "stallion" or "calf" are disappearing from our language and "algorhitmic behaviour","model 6623i" and "weapons of mass destruction" get on their place. It may be true that what disappeared from man's spoken language, disappeared from man's world and vice versa. This is so because not only nature but also language by which we represent the nature are both dynamic systems subordinated to evolutionary rules.
Limited reality and limited language - or in other words limited set of mind elements and their structural relationships- is the biggest threat to individual's creativity. Whomever controls the reality (dictator in totalitarian regime) or language (mass media), controls the man's world and at the end the man himself. Even the most decided, the most devoted person can't change anything when he can't even think in terms like "possibility" and "change".
Ideas of creativity and change are in fact very tightly intervowened. When we are talking about change, we always talk about one state transforming into the other, about something which was sheer possibility before becoming reality afterwards. It is very similiar with creativity - something which in the beginning didn't existed even in the form of an idea is entering an empiric world, it is "obtaining facticity". Something is articulated, something is created and the results are as diverse as poems, illustrations, equations of physics or inventions of technology.
When I talk about thoughts "obtaining facticity" I'm of course talking about the second part of the creative process, I'm talking about the "objective adjustment". Let's just assume that every subject owns some amount of a property called "will" which can be applied for making a thought real. What our human experience teaches us is that this "will" can be applied freely upon any chosen object - this is what "free will" means.When this "will" is applied it can result in correlation between the subjective and objective realms. But analyzing the concept of "will" on its own is not purpose of this essay so let's just assert together with Goethe's Faust that "performing the Deed" is an indispensable part of creative process.
There are many constraints which influence doing of such a creative "deed":
· Prohibitions and laws imposed by society („It is written there and there that only those chosen by God can fly. For thinking otherwise I can be executed.“)
· Stereotypes and fears („I will not spend time thinking about such a non-sense. I will loose prestige because nobody cares about angels when he can buy a fast Ford, or I’ll just simply loose lot of energy realizing something which is impossible.")
My own moral standards ("For creating such an angel an experiment would have to be made, a prototype would have to be tested. It's highly probable that subject of such an experiment will die like an ancient Icarus. Because life is the highest value I voluntarily decide to forget this angel concept.)
Prohibitions imposed by society are these days mostly reason-based laws which allow the society to exist and function normally in the first place. They evolved for many hundreds or even thousands of years in the form of "memes" - replicators which spread themselves among minds through the process of immitation (5). For purposes of these essay let's just assume that the "meme" concept and concept of an "idea" are almost synonyms. Evolutionary battlefield of this new kind of replicators is not a jungle or a steppe but human society and its main functional part - human mind.
It is important to mention that a successfull meme need not to be true nor useful (6). This is true also in huge amount of society restrictions . Sometimes an irrational meme replicates hidden in a memetic complex (a Holy Book, an economic theory) as a parasite on other sound and rational memes. In other cases it just needs to be sufficiently expressive so it will attract enough attention of audience which can become its future host. Even today can one find many such irrational parasites contained within the very core of robust and sometimes even highly evolved systems - for example "there are 4 castes in the world", "you shall not use name of your God in vain" or "if you will try to experience some physical contact with other human being outside of marriage you'll get some whiplashes" etc.
Such dogma-based irrational prohibitions block an individual creative process in many parts of the world, especially in undeveloped third countries where superstition still rules human thinking and of course in theocracies of Middle East and ideological regimes like China. But it's very important to notice the fundamental difference between cases I called "limited access to the source of basic elements" and between these "prohibitions imposed by society". Courageous one can always revolt against the rules of his society -which mostly leads to death at the stake or a cross but in some more fortunate cases to the transformation of the society as a whole - but one can't revolt when the concept of revolt simply does not exist in his world.
Some of these rules like "you shall not kill" sometimes transform into an individual's moral standard. In the case of moral standard however it is not the authority of society, leader or some metaphysical god which imposes the rules upon myself but only and only the authority of my own I voluntarily chooses to restrict itself in such a way. In a truly free society it should be only one's own moral codex which should set constraints to the creative process.
The third group of constraints to a creative process lies somewhere in the middle between society do's&dont's and one's own individual moral codex. It is especially this set of memes which puts obstacles on the colourful path of creativity in so-called democratic countries of today's world. One isn't punished for going against the society stereotypes by electric chair but he can be punished for his creativity by other means - including loss of time, family, friends, sanity etc.
So even in the so-called free and developed countries of today's West one sometimes needs a vast amount of courage and stamina - those 2 virtues of creator - for breaking through the walls of unwritten stereotypes and unconscious fears which greately undermine any call of freedom. Just one concrete example: Few days ago two men named G.Bush and V.Putin met in my beloved hometown and for such an event group of friends wanted to buy a billboard with a sentence "Where are the weapons of mass destruction?" on some visible place in the center of the city. I was told I live in a free market economy - how come that this group of friends wasn't able to rent any billboard space from any advertisement company when they had offered an adequate sum of money for it and there surely were many free billboard spaces in the city?
Such are the obstacles which a free creator of these days has to surpass - mostly hidden and undefined.
There is also another constraint to creativity but this one concerns only technological and scientifical creativity:
Laws of nature ("Existence of a man with wings is contradictory to gravitational law.")
This constraint is not an enemy but a very good friend indeed. It is true especially in the realm of scientifical thinking and engineering that nothing motivates man's imagination more than precisely defined constants, borders and limitations. We have at least some knowledge about something - maybe not about that which is possible but about that which is impossible. And this knowledge can be a corner stone for a dome we are trying to build.
By "synthesis" of "human" and "wings" I created an "angel" within mine mind. Soon after I realize by scientific "analysis" man could never fly using wings with feather & bones, he's just too heavy for it. But wait - what about a something slighlty different than a "wing" - a "branched structure" made of "nanotubes"?
In such a way can one combine analysis & synthesis for achieving his goal.
This angel has a still long path to go . Even if it had won in a competition for a computational resources of my brain among all other "memes" I wanted to articulate in this paper, there are still many other evolutionary battles to come - not only those with gods & Fords. But because I beleive that I was created by Creator "to his own image" (7) I have to honestly admit that a flying angel for me is not only a distant mirage but a highest expression of one of man's basic freedoms:
A freedom to create.
1) Wilson Robert Anton- Prometheus Rising
2) Sri Anandamurti - Ananda Marga philosophy
3) Wittgenstein Ludwig - Tractatus logico-philosophicus
4) Wittgenstein Ludwig - Blue book
5) Blackmore Susanne - Theory of memes
6) Drexler Eric - Engines of Creation
7) Bible - Genesis