Gowan on Tantra 2
JOHN CURTIS GOWAN ON
TANTRA, CREATIVITY, AND SELF-ACTUALIZATION, Part 2
Excerpts from TRANCE, ART, AND CREATIVITY
4.35 Creativity as Psychological Openness
4.351 GeneralEver since the development of the construct of creativity in the 1950's, and despite the views of its early exponents, such as Guilford and Osborn, there has been a steady movement away from the concept of creativity as essentially problem-solving in favor of the hypothesis that creativity represents some kind of psychological openness. A growing and prestigious group of researchers, Including Jung (Arieti 1967), Maslow (1954), and Rogers (1959), to name only three, associate creative functioning with openness to interior and exterior experience brought on by good mental health, an anti-authoritarian style of living, and general flexibility.
Maslow's concepts of spontaneity, autonomy, democratic (anti-authoritarian) character structure and creativity found in self-actualizing people is a good example. Another is Roger's (1959) "openness to experience," "an internal locus of evaluation," and "the ability to toy with concepts." Schactel (1959) speaks of the quality of the encounter which develops into creative performance as primarily one of openness. Schulman (1966) also found openness of perception necessary for creative functioning.
Hallman (1963), in his thorough review, also names openness and says:
It designates those characteristics of the environment, both the inner and the outer, the personal and the social, which facilitates the creative person's moving from the actual state of affairs which he is in at a given time, toward solutions which are only possible and as yet undetermined. These conditions, or traits, include sensitivity, tolerance of ambiguity, self-acceptance, and spontaneity. Since these are passively rather than actively engaged in the creative process, this criterion may be explained logically within the category of possibility. But again, the psychological meaning of this category may best be expressed under the concept of deferment, as distinguished, for example, from closure; of postponement as distinguished from predetermined solutions.
Openness can be described in twelve aspects, all mentioned by Maslow (1954), as characteristic of his group of self-actualized people. The first four aspects are also noted by Hallman.
(1) Problem sensitivity refers to the ability to sense things as they might be reassembled, to a discrepancy, an aperture or a hiatus. It involves a particular kind of openness which divines that things are not quite what they seem. Hallman cites Angyal (1956), Fromm (1959), Guilford (1967), Greenacre (1957), Hilgard (1959), Lowenfeld (1958), Mooney (1956), and Stein (1953) as witnesses for the importance of problem sensitivity in creative performance.
(2) Ability to tolerate ambiguity is another aspect widely noted. Hallman (1963) characterizes it as "the ability to accept conflict and tension resulting from polarity (Fromm, 1959), to tolerate inconsistencies and contradictions (Maslow, 1963), to accept the
unknown, and be comfortable with the ambiguous, approximate, and uncertain." He names Hart (1950), Wilson (1954), and Zilboorg (1959) as holding similar views. The ability to tolerate ambiguity appears also related with two other aspects. One is the ability to toy with ideas, rather playfully rearranging them into different forms. The other is preference for complexity, found by Barron (1963) in his study of artists.
(3) Internalized locus of evaluation is a Rogerian phrase for what Hallman calls a sense of destiny and personal worth which internalizes the value system so that it is not dependent upon cultural mores. This personal autonomy, also named by Maslow (1954) as characteristic of self-actualized people is really the opposite of authoritarian tendencies. The development of autonomy in young adults has been found to be negatively correlated with authoritarianism. Benton (1967), in a doctoral thesis, found openness (opposite of authoritarianism) to be predictive of creativity among students. An interesting sidelight of this aspect is the resultant philosophical, unhostile sense of humor, so characteristic of creative people, and found by Maslow as one of the qualities of his self-actualized group.
(4) Spontaneity is a quality used by both Hallman and Maslow to describe openness and creativity. It involves more isomorphic and comfortable relations with reality, so that one experiences life directly and "openly," not as if through a darkened glass. There is an appreciation and wonderment toward life, a childlike awe and admiration of that which is mysterious about the universe, blending into a mystic or oceanic feeling. All of these are qualities named by Maslow about his self-actualized people. "Scientific genius," said Poincare, "is the capacity to be surprised."
Finally, while still on the mental health aspect of creativity, the considerable testimony should be noted for creativity as at least a two-stage process as one ascends the mental health scale. Hallman (1963), in his definitive review, has this to say:
A third cluster of evidence surrounds the definition that creative activity involves an interchange of energy among vertical layers of psychological systems. Creativeness consists in a shift of psychic levels. Most writers identify two psychological levels and refer to them variously as the primary- secondary processes, the autistic and reality adjusted, unconscious mechanisms and conscious deliberation, free and bound energies, gestalt-free and articulating tendencies. These writers include Freud, Ehrenzweig (1953), and Schneider (1950). Maslow (1959) adds to these two levels a third one called integration.
Another who believes in two levels of creativity is Taft (1970), who states:
There are two styles of creativity; one a measured, problem-solving approach, and the other an emotional and comparatively uncontrolled free expression.
Taft believes that this dichotomy stems from the distinction made between primary and secondary processes by Freud. The primary process creativity (or "hot" creativity) occurs in the preconscious, and the secondary process (or "cold" creativity) requires more controls and less fantasy expression, such as scientific investigation, for example.
And Ghiselin (Taylor and Barron, 1963:42) tells us that:
It is reasonable to say that there are two levels of creativity, one higher and one lower, one primary and one secondary, one major and one minor. Creative action of the lower, secondary sort gives further development to an established body of meaning through initiating some advance in its use. . . Creative action of the higher, primary sort alters the universe of meaning itself, by introducing into it some new element of meaning or some new order of significance, or, more commonly, both.
By this time, the reader may well ask "What is it that the mind is open to in this second level of creative insight?" This question deserves a careful answer. In an effort to document that answer, we shall consider four examples of openness: (a) openness under hypnosis, (b) openness under drugs, (c) openness to ESP, and (d) openness to dreams, in the remainder of this section. In the next, we shall then be able to formulate a theory about the preconscious mechanism by which creativity is produced.
If you met a group of new people at one party and several days later on a completely different occasion, you again ran into the same group, you would suspect some connection between the two events, some common organizer. It is thus rather interesting that in a study of creative openness we have again run into some prototaxic and parataxic procedures which we studied in earlier chapters.
4.352 Openness Facilitated by Hypnosis
It seems evident from the research that under some conditions creativity is facilitated by hypnosis. Krippner (1972) documented some examples of this kind, including the McCord and Sherrill (1961) report of a mathematics professor whose speed in solving difficult problems was speeded up about six times. P. Bowers (1967) found that hypnosis improved performance on the remote consequences test at p = .001;
the effect appearing to be due to reduced defensiveness. K. Bowers (1968) got no significant results in a creativity task between groups of hypnotized and hypnotically simulating groups. In a more complicated 2 X 3 research design K. Bowers and van der Meulen (1970) found hypnotically susceptible significantly more creative than hypnotically unsusceptible subjects; women also tended to be more creative under hypnosis than men. In a further study, K. Bowers (1970) found relationships between creativity, hypnotic susceptibility, and trancelike experiences for women, but not for men. He suggested that imagination in women is more stimulus incited, whereas in men it is more impulse incited.
The definitive review of research in this area is that of Bowers and Bowers (Fromm and Shor, 1972:235-290). In addition to having done a good bit of it themselves, the Bowers' deny the behavioristic bias in making hypersuggestibility the defining feature of hypnosis, and argue that trance and subjective experience of the individual under hypnosis has a real place in research on the subject. Calling the "generalized reality orientation" the GRO (or the OSC in our terms), they point out that there are many conditions besides hypnosis when the GRO fades away, and some of them have to do with fantasy and the relaxed reverie which precedes the insight stage of creative performance.
Bowers and Bowers (Fromm and Shor, 1972(283) conclude after a review of their research and others that unrealistic and fantasy experiences:
a. are concomitants of various ASC's including hypnosis,
b. occur more in subjects high in hypnotic susceptibility,
c. may occasionally occur in a creative act, but are
d. often experienced by creative subjects in more flexible shifting from one level of functioning to another.
They believe that creativity involves regression to "passively experienced fantasy and then progression to integration of fantasy with reality." They cite both Krippner (1968) and Silverman (1968) as noting similarities between ASC's and the inspirational stage of creativity. They conclude: "A relationship between hypnosis and creativity does seem probable, but the precise nature of this link is far from clear."
Bowers and Bowers (lbid:271) suggest that there is an "oscillating relationship between focused attention and fantasy which is an important condition of the adaptive regression which underlies creativity." They cite the literature on eye movements which suggests (lbid:274) that "eye movement is usually reduced under conditions of uncritical, undirected thinking characteristic of hypnosis and
creativity." Ability to "tolerate unusual experiences" upon loss of the GRO correlates "about as high with hypnotic susceptibility as any other measure" (lbid:277). This is also a characteristic of fantasy. The creative person seems to have become able to retrieve through the oscillating procedure, those aspects of fantasy which help him to creative performance. In other words, both hypnosis and creativity have a common base in easy slippage from the GRO into fantasy. But as Bowers and Bowers (Ibid:291) conclude: whereas "conventional reality is relatively unimportant for the hypnotized person," it is vital to the creative individual for "it is the stuff that creative imagination transforms."
McHenry and Shouksmith (1970) describe an experiment in which 147 ten year olds were tested for their creative ability. Results showed that when placed in a situation exposed to the suggestion of peers, the highly creative children were very open to suggestion, but subjects high on visual imagination were not. The researchers then concluded that creative children are more suggestible.
4.353 Openness Facilitated by Drugs
There have been many highly creative persons who have used consciousness-altering drugs (e.g., opium, alcohol, LSD, hashish), though one can only - at this time - speculate as to whether or not any of these drugs increased their creativity. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a poet and philosopher, habitually used a preparation of opium. Charles Baudelaire, a nineteenth century writer, lavishly described his sensations after eating hashish. William James (1902), the famous psychologist and philosopher, tried using nitrous oxide - commonly known as laughing gas - to "stimulate the mystical consciousness." Aldous Huxley, the novelist and essayist, took mescaline and LSD on frequent occasions. Even Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, ingested cocaine for several years and recommended it highly.
"In recent years, psychedelic ("mind-manifesting") drugs have often been used for creative purposes. In 1965, the psychiatrist Humphry Osmond and the architect Kyo Izumi announced that they had designed a new mental hospital with the aid of psychedelic drugs. Izumi (1968) took LSD when he visited traditionally designed mental hospitals to determine their effects upon persons in altered states of consciousness. In this condition, the long corridors and pale colors appeared bizarre and frightening to him; the corridor "seemed infinite, and it seemed as if I would never get to the end of it." He and Osmond assumed that the hospital would look similarly unpleasant to the mental patients. As a result of Izumi's experiences, he and Osmond designed a decentralized series of unimposing buildings with pleasant colors and no corridors.
"Barron (1963)administered psilocybin to several highly creative persons and recorded their impressions. For example, one of Barron's subjects, a composer, writes, "Every corner is alive in a silent intimacy." Barron concluded, "What psilocybin does is to ... dissolve many definitions and ... melt many boundaries, permit greater intensities or more extreme values of experience to occur in many dimensions." However, some of the artists in Barron's study were wildly enthusiastic about their seemingly increased sensitivity during drug experience, but later when the effects of the drug wore off, they found that the artistic work they produced had little artistic merit. For instance, a painter recalled, "I have seldom known such absolute identification with what I was doing - nor such a lack of concern with it afterwards." It appears that an artist is not necessarily able to evaluate his psychedelically-inspired work while he is under the influence of the drug.
4.354 The Role of Extrasensory Perception in Creativity19
Aside from the possibility that extrasensory perception (ESP) may have played a part in some of the creative dreams just described, there have in general been many unusual and puzzling creative achievements in which ESP may have played a role.
When Igor Sikorsky was ten years of age, he dreamed of coursing the skies in the softly lit, walnut-paneled cabin of an enormous flying machine. Sikorsky later became an eminent aircraft designer and inventor of the helicopter. Three decades after the dream, he went aboard one of his own four- engine clippers to inspect a job of interior decorating done by Pan American Airways. With a start, he recognized the cabin as identical to the one in his boyhood dream.
Max Planck, the physicist, first spoke of his "constant" when he was twenty-three years of age; however, he did not understand its implications for wave theory until much later. Indeed, he had to convince himself of its correctness; it varied so greatly from the logic of his time that he could not comprehend it when the idea first came to him.
Perhaps one of the most interesting cases of this kind is that of Michael Faraday (cited by Koestler, 1963), one of the greatest physicists of all time. Faraday was a visionary even in a literal sense. He "saw" the stresses surrounding magnets and electric currents as "curves of force in space," which he called "lines of forces." He visualized the universe as patterned by narrow curved tubes through which all forms of "ray-vibrations" or energy-radiations are propagated. This vision of curved tubes which "rose up before him like things" led him to the ideas of the dynamo and the electric motor. It also made him discard the concept of the ether and to postulate that light is electromagnetic radiation. Did Faraday enter these new realities through his imagination, or was he also assisted by ESP?
The case of Jonathan Swift (cited by Haefele, 1962), the writer of Gulliver's Travels and other novels, combines artistic and scientific creativity. When Gulliver reaches Laputa, the astronomers state that the planet Mars has two moons quite close to the planet. One completed its orbit every ten hours, the other every 21.5 hours. It took astronomers in ordinary reality 150 years to discover that Mars did, indeed, have two moons which completed their orbits around the planet every eight and every 30 hours.
A final instance of the possible association between ESP and creativity concerns Futility,a popular novel written by Morgan Robertson in 1898. It described the wreck of a giant ship called the Titan. This ship was considered "unsinkable" by the characters in the novel; it displaced 70,000 tons, was 800 feet long, had 24 lifeboats, and carried 3,000 passengers. Its engines were equipped with three propellers. One night in April, while proceeding at 25 knots, the Titan encountered an iceberg in the fog and sank with great loss of life.
On April 15, 1912, the Titanic was wrecked in a disaster which echoed the events portrayed in the novel 14 years previously. The Titanic displaced 66,000 tons and was 828 feet long, It had three propellers and was proceeding at 23 knots on its maiden voyage, carrying nearly 3,000 passengers. There was great loss of life because the Titanic was equipped with only 20 lifeboats.
Thus, the role played by ESP in creativity demands further study. Anderson (1962) is convinced that the association exists because both ESP and creativity have their roots in deep, unconscious levels of the psyche. She concludes that creativity "by a process of purely conscious calculation seems never to occur. Scrutiny of the conscious scene for the creative end never reveals it; it is never there."
Dreistadt (1972) attempted to relate the prophetic nature of genius with precognition, theorizing that there was either telepathy or clairvoyance in the nature of some of their discoveries. Pang and Fort (1967) in a small study got some evidence of the relation between creativity and ESP.
Honorton (1967) in exploring the relationship between creativity and ESP, found a highly significant difference on precognitive runs between the high creativity subjects and the low ones.
4.355 Dreams and Creativity20
There is considerable testimony on the fact that creativity is closely related to dreams, and some of it is spectacular. Domino (1970) has found more primary process material and more symbolism in the dreams of creative high school males than in controls. Krippner and Hughes (1971) concluded that "dreaming and creative process are related."
There are many people who can testify to the usefulness of dreams in the creative production of daily life. Kilton Stewart (Tart, 1969:15968) tells how the Senoi, a Malayan tribe, use dreams to promote mental health, and gain control over the preconscious. Following Stewart's example, Alden Flagg (personal communication) of New York Society of General Semantics, programs his sleep so that he will dream solutions to daily problems. Eileen Garrett (1968:135) tells of much the same thing: "I give my consciousness the task of finding the answer while I sleep, and in the morning at the threshold of awakening, I find the information I sought." Many creative people have learned this trick of using dreams.
But the best and most complete summary of the use of dreams for discoveries and inventions by scientists is by Krippner (1972): "Scientists, philosophers, and inventors also have creative dreams and use the content of these dreams either literally (directly) or analogically (symbolically) in their creative work." (It will be recalled that artists, musicians, and writers generally used the content in a literal manner.)
Herman V. Hilprecht (cited by Woods, 1947:525-530) attempted to decipher two small fragments of agate which were believed to belong to the finger rings of a Babylonian, and had cuneiform writing on them of the Cassite period in Babylonian history. After midnight he was weary and exhausted, went to sleep, and dreamed the following:
A tall thin priest of old pre-Christian Nippur, about forty years of age and clad in a simple abba, led me to the treasure chamber of the temple ... He addressed me as follows: "The two fragments which you have published separately on pages 22 and 26, belong together, are not finger rings and their history is as follows: King Kurigalzu (Ca. 1300 B.C.) once sent to the temple of Bel ... an inscribed votive cylinder of agate. Then we priests suddenly received the command to make for the statue of the god Ninib a pair of earrings of agate. We were in a great dismay, since there was no agate as raw material at hand. In order to execute the command there was nothing for us to do but cut the votive cylinder into three parts, thus making three rings, each of which contained a portion of the original inscription. The first two rings served as earrings for the statue of the god; the two fragments which have given you so much trouble are portions of them. If you will put the two together you will have confirmation of my words. But the third ring you have not found in the course of your excavations and you never will find it." With this the priest disappeared. I woke up . . .
Hilprecht later verified this interpretation by actually putting the fragments together at the Imperial Museum of Constantinople, thereby showing that they had once belonged to one and the same votive cylinder.
In his creative drearn Hilprecht combined identically shaped "rings" (association by similarity) and thereby reconstructed the votive cylinder. He also combined other bits of information that agreed with this reconstruction. All this represents a process of consolidation. Hilprecht's dream thus integrated a great deal of material, but by synthesizing the material correctly the dream also gave him a picture of a non-ordinary reality - a past reality. It is conceivable, too, that Hilprecht's close contact with the "rings" helped give him imagery of the past events he saw in his dream in the same manner as the touch of an object purportedly gives a psychic paragnost accurate imagery of the past history of the object.
The naturalist Louis Agassiz (cited by Krippner and Hughes, 1970),attempted to transfer the image of a fossilized fish from a stone but found the image too blurred. He gave up the project only to dream a few nights later of an entire fossilized fish. He hurried to the laboratory the next morning, but the image was as obscure as before. The dream returned the next night. When he examined the slab the next morning, the vague image appeared unchanged. Hoping to have the dream a third time, Agassiz put a pencil and paper by his bed. The dream returned and he drew the image. The next morning when he looked at what he had drawn, he was surprised that he had produced so many details in total darkness. He returned to his laboratory and used the drawing as a guide to chisel the slab. When the stone layer fell away, Agassiz found the fossil in excellent condition and identical to the image he had seen in his dream.
Agassiz' creative dream of the fossilized fish may have been induced by having perceived unconsciously a clue in the stone slab which he had ignored while awake. If so, the dream could have emphasized and drawn his attention to stimuli he had perceived subliminally while he was awake. Perhaps Agassiz also perceived the fossil fish clairvoyantly by extrasensory perception (e.g., Krippner, 1963). If this is true, subliminal perception and extrasensory perception helped Agassiz experience non-ordinary reality which quickly turned into ordinary reality once the slab was cut.
The creative dreams of Hilprecht and Agassiz gave the solution to a problem literally or directly. One can cite as well creative dreams of scientists and inventors that gave the solution of a problem analogically or symbolically.
The chemist Friedrich August Kekule (cited by Koestler, 1964:118),had a tendency to make theoretical discoveries in hypnagogic reverie states. Kekule wrote:
I turned my chair to the fire and dozed. Again the atoms were gambolling before my eyes. The smaller groups kept modestly in the background. My mental eye, rendered more acute by visions of this kind, could now distinguish larger structures, of manifold conformations; long rows, sometimes more closely fitted together, all twining and twisting in snakelike motion. But look! What was that? One of the snakes had seized hold of its own tail, and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes. As if by a flash of lightning I awoke.
The dream image of a snake holding its tail in its mouth led Kekule by analogy to his discovery that Benzene has a ringlike structure (usually represented by a hexagon) and to his "closed-chain" or "ring" theory which showed the importance of molecular structure in organic chemistry. The imagery granted Kekule a glimpse into a non-ordinary reality of molecular structure.
In 1869, D. I. Mendeleev went to bed exhausted after struggling to conceptualize a way to categorize the elements based upon their atomic weights (cited by Kedrov, 1957). He reported, "I saw in a dream a table where all the elements fell into place as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper. Only in one place did a correction later seem necessary." In this manner, Mendeleev's Periodic Table of the Elements was created.
(Noting that hypnagogic and reverie states are frequently associated with theta brain wave rhythms, Green, Green, and Walters (1971) have instigated a biofeedback project to train individuals to enter these states through EEG brain wave training. The association between theta production and creativity will be explored among the subjects who can successfully produce the theta rhythm.)
It can be seen that creative persons in their dreams sometimes appear to experience non-ordinary reality, and at the same time make different types of consolidations. Finding a new reality in a creative dream gives the person a novel slant or direction for consolidating his information, and the consolidation enables him to see the details and structure of the new reality more clearly. In some cases, finding a new reality not only gives the person a new direction for consolidating his information, but even involves finding additional information to be included in the consolidation.
4.36 Creativity and the Preconscious
The theory which explains most precisely the mechanism by which creativity operates is that of the preconscious (Kubie, 1958). Openness in this view is really openness to the collective preconscious, an effect of the numinous element which is shared by all. It can be considered as an ever-refilling well wherein all creative men have learned to dip their bucket, or as a great general computer, containing in its data banks all knowledge, and creativity is but the process of operating the terminal console. Or it can be considered as a great collator, chewing up the events and ideas of the day, and rearranging them into other forms and patterns, or like an enlarged fluid container, with a permeable membrane though which (by osmosis) creative ideas are leaked into consciousness. This theory is really the only one which explains the necessity for relaxation after cognitive preparation for the creative ideas to emerge.
Such a view immediately suggests that the preconscious is the source of man's creativity, particularly when it is strengthened, protected and enlarged through regular use and through increasing mental health. The "establishment" of the preconscious is evidence that the individual is not at war with himself, not alienated from experience, not a split personality. He can be creative because almost all his past experiences, in chewed-up and digested form, ready to be reattached to new concepts, are available to his preconscious collator. It has at its disposal a vast assortment of biological impulses, tabooed acts, rejected compromises, affected pains and pleasures, remembered facts, personal feelings, horrifying nightmares and a host of other material, none of which has been suppressed, but all of which can be reused (much like old newspapers) to print a new edition. What is in the new edition depends on how much freedom the editor (preconscious) has from the incursions of the prohibitions of the conscious and super-ego and the pressures of experiences and feelings suppressed by the unconscious. The health, growth, and stability of the preconscious thus becomes of prime importance in investigating the genesis of creativity.
Greenacre (1971) feels that the openness which produces creativity is related to infantile development prior to the Oedipus resolution. She points out the frequency of family fantasies in the highly creative, and mentions special aspects as empathy, sensori-motor capacity for expression, awareness of relationships among stimuli, and greater sensory responsiveness. Greenacre's views on the oedipal and fantasy aspects of creativity have been developed elsewhere by the author (1972:17).
Pointing out that the child lives in a mythical paradisal time, Eliade (1963:77) says in footnote: "This is why the unconscious displays the structure of a private mythology ... some of its contents carry cosmic values.... Modern Man's only real contact with cosmic sacrality is effected by the unconscious, whether in dreams and his imaginative life or in the creations that arise out of the unconscious."
Recognizing the importance of preconscious inspiration, many creative persons have intuitively derived individual mechanisms for throwing themselves into this mode of knowledge. Gerald Heard says (Weil and Others 1971:9):
To have truly original thought the mind must throw off its critical guard, its filtering censor. It must put itself in a state of depersonalization . . . The best researchers when confronting problems and riddles which have defied all solution by ordinary methods, did employ their minds in an unusual way, did put themselves into a state of egoless creativity, which permitted them to have insights so remarkable that by means of these they were able to make their greatest and most original discoveries.
Lord Tennyson was accustomed to pass into "an ecstatic state" and had a formula for inducing it (Prince, 1963:144). Tennyson says in a letter written in 1794:
I have had ... a kind of walking trance ... when I have been all alone. This has often come upon me through repeating my own name to myself silently, till, all at once out of the intensity and conscious of the individuality, the individuality itself seems to dissolve and fade away into boundless being ...
Prince (1963:174) similarly describes the inception of Uncle Tom's Cabin quoting from the biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe:
Mrs. Stowe was seated in her pew in the college church at Brunswick, during the communion service ... Suddenly like the unrolling of a picture scroll, the scene of the death of Uncle Tom seemed to pass before her ... She was so affected she could scarcely keep from weeping ... That Sunday afternoon she went to her room, locked the door and wrote out, substantially as it appears ... the chapter called "The Death of Uncle Tom".
The writing of this chapter of Uncle Tom's Cabin has many analogies in authorship without conscious participation inthe composition, to the same with conscious effort, and yet such facility that it seems as though, in the main, the
material gushed up from a concealed spring.
Evidence that creative persons do, in fact, have an easier relationship with their inner selves is forthcoming from several sources. MacKinnon (1972) in a paper entitled "Creativity and Transliminal Experience" adduces proof for the hypothesis that creative persons experience greater ease in moving from conscious to unconscious states. Katz (1973) in doctoral study, exposed subliminal material to creative students and constricted controls, and the results clearly indicated that the creative group was superior in making use of the preconscious stimulus in response or reproduction.
There seems little need to pile up further evidence in this regard, since it is notable that the relation between creativity and the preconscious is much stronger than the various relationships in the previous section. Indeed their correlations with creative process can be looked upon as effects of their contact with the collective preconscious. In two earlier books (1972, 1974) we have given extensive coverage to this point, so we shall not prolong the argument here. But creativity as the relationship with the collective preconscious is only the beginning of the expansion of man's mind which we have identified as psychedelic. We shall pursue this development in the next section.
4.37 Creativity as Evidence of Mental Health and Self-Actualization
a) Introduction.A final way of looking at creativity is to regard it as early evidence of progress in mental health and
self-actualization. The amount of creativity, other things being equal, may be regarded as a barometer of one's mental health. Maslow (Anderson, 1958:88) elaborates this idea further in saying: "The creativity of my subjects seemed to be an epiphenomenon of their greater wholesomeness and integration, which is what 'self-actualized' implies." It is as natural to express creativity under conditions of high mental health as it is for a black object when heated to radiate electromagnetic waves of heat and light.
The creative person is not necessarily perfect and without flaw. Actually, creativity occurs early in the development of the mentally healthy individual and promises the continuation of such mental health, much as ego strength predicts the successful termination of therapy. Creative performance tends to influence development in the direction of mental health, as fruit on a tree or dividends on a stock promise the future vitality of an organism.
After a careful case study investigation of the influence of mental health on creativity, Fried (1964) concluded that increased mental health as established through therapy improved artistic work habits, freed and sublimated aggressive, destructive tendencies into productive work patterns, reduced omnipotent fantasy which had caused the artists to destroy many of their works which were below the masterpiece level, and improved human relations which tended to preserve creative energy. The creativity increase in these artists undergoing therapy appeared as an early dividend resulting from their increased mental health.
The essence of process toward both greater mental health and greater creativity lies in the strengthening and developing of the preconscious so that it enlarges to assume a more important share in the tripartite membership of the individual psyche. This aggrandizement signals improved mental health and progress toward self-actualization, of which creative performance is an early indication. McLuhan and the existentialists emphasize a better balance between rational and pararational aspects of the psyche, and perhaps in this instance they are merely restating the thesis which has just been illustrated here.
b) General Research on Self-Actualization. Damm (1970) after analyzing studies of Arnold (1961), Blatt (1964), MacKinnon (1964), Barron (1963), Roe (1963), and Gerber (1965) on the relationship between creativity and mental health in adults, concludes that a strong relationship exists. Damm (1970) found students high in intelligence and creativity are more self-actualized as measured by Shostrom's (1966) Personal Orientation Inventory than students who are high in intelligence only. He concluded that students who obtained high scores on both areas were superior in self- actualization and recommended that the development of both intelligence and creative abilities should be a prime educational goal.
Hallman (1963), speaking about self-actualization, says:
Empirically, this criterion is supported by the great wealth of data which has been reported. Maslow (1956) has spoken most forcefully on this theme. He equates creativity with the state of psychological health, and this with the self-actualization process. There is no exception to this rule, he says. "Creativity is an universal characteristic of self-actualizing people." This form of creativeness reaches beyond special-talent creativeness; it is a fundamental characteristic of human nature. It touches whatever activity the healthy person is engaged in.
Craig (1966) reviewed trait theories of creativity and listed four personality correlates which were congruent with Maslow's holistic scheme of self-actualization and character integration. Newton (1968) in doctoral research found high correlation between progress toward self-actualization and intelligence. Moustakas (1967) attempted to conceptualize creativity in terms of self-growth and self-renewal by stressing the uniqueness of theindividual and his potentialities for mental health.
Helder, in doctoral research (1968) contrasted mystical and peak experiences found in the more open creative stance with traditional perceptual-cognitive consciousness. It is interesting to note that Maslow in his famous study of self-actualizing persons, found none who were not creative. In imitation of Maslow's work, we present some characteristics of self -actualizing persons which seem to be related to their creativity as follows: a) introduction b) general research on self-actualization, c) joy, content, and expectation of good, d) serendipity, e) increased control over environment, f) sense of destiny, g) acceptance of self, others, and nature, h) spontaneity, i) detachment and autonomy, j)Gemeinschaftsgefuhl, k) a philosophical and unhostile sense of humor, 1) psychological and semantic flexibility, and m) the "witness-phenomenon." These aspects represent the maturing of the creative phase of development, or the spread of the function through man's mind which signals increasing readiness for the next level of mind expansion.
What's New with My Subject?
The self-actualization explanation of creativity is not just another way of looking at the subject; for some it is the only way. The mind expanding aspect is seen as a fundamental property of life, with creativity the aurora of the new dawn. Barron (1968:305) echoes this view:
The tendency of life then is toward the expansion of consciousness. In a sense, a description of means for the expansion of consciousness has been the central theme of this book, and it is in this evolutionary tendency that such diverse phenomena as psychotherapy, surprising or unexpected self-renewal, the personally evolved and deepened forms of religious belief, creative imagination, mysticism, and deliberately induced changes of consciousness through the use of chemicals find a common bond.
c) Joy, Content, and Expectation of Good. One of the most interesting aspects of creativity is that affective development seems to go along with cognitive development, so that positive feelings about oneself, others, and the universe are felt by most creative persons. There is in particular an absence of generalized fear, anxiety, and insecurity, which is perhaps related to a wider competence, but seems more due to a dawning realization of the beneficence of the cosmos. The optimist is luckier than the pessimist, and creative people tend to be optimists. Perhaps this is because creativity represents the ability to solve new problems so that one is not fearful of the future. One is reminded of Bucke's characteristics of illumination (White, 1972:87ff) which mentions joy, assurance, a sense of immortality, the vanishing of the fear of sin and death. One is also reminded of the reply of Thoreau on his death-bed when asked if he wanted to make his peace with God: "We have never fallen out."
d) Serendipity. The princes of Serendip upon being sent on missions by their father to discover certain things, discovered, instead, other things for which they were not looking. The word has entered the language since it expresses a phenomenon which occurs to creative people: namely the situation of which Einstein speaks: if we quiet the mind and relax, we find to our surprise that "a new idea modestly presents itself." The discovery of things for which one was not looking, indicates that the collective preconscious is wiser than we are, for it seems to know what we need to discover, even though our conscious mind does not. In this sense serendipity replaces the random aspects of nature with an ordering in the mind which is a great time saver.
e) Increased Control over Environment. There are several senses in which creative persons gain this control. In the first place there is the purely outer consequence that a creative product solves an environmental challenge with a higher response. In the second place, the fact that one is creative gives one the potentiality to solve the next crisis, and hence, to have potential control. In the third place, because creativity represents an intuitive brush with the noumenon, it involves some kind of esoteric control of the environment. We shall call this control "orthocognition" and discuss it further in section 4.5; healing, in some respects the "twin" of creativity, is an aspect of this increased control.
f) Sense of Destiny. Because the creative person sees some order and plan in the universe, and believes himself to be a part of that plan, he has a sense of destiny. He is ordered in the sense that the atoms in a piece of magnetized iron are ordered. Like the last two sections, the concept involves an escalation from randomness to order, or if you are a physics major, a decrease in entropy. The creative person also becomes more independent of time, and more conscious of past-present-future all at once, and this too gives him a perspective which others interpret as a sense of destiny.
g) Acceptance of Self, Others, and Nature. If I can't accept me, I can't accept you, and if I can't accept you, I certainly can't accept those other even more dreadful people. Consequently the ability to accept ourselves (with all our faults), our loved ones (with all their faults), and finally the rest of the world (with all its faults) is a real barometer of maturity. This acceptance signals development away from egocentricity and the identity crisis. Maslow (1954:207-8) points out that self-actualizing people can accept the animal part of themselves without neurotic disgust; they can accept others because of their lack of defensiveness, but show distaste for cant and hypocrisy in social relationships. They accept nature because they see reality more clearly and without the spectacles of prejudice: "One does not complain about water because it is wet."
h) Spontaneity. Creative persons are spontaneous and free. They are not constricted or compartmentalized. They have an open, free, loving life style which resembles that of an artist more than that of an undertaker. They are intraceptive in being open to feelings; they are therefore childlike, although not immature. Maslow (1954:208-9) points out that the behavior of self-actualizing persons is marked by simpleness and naturalness. Spontaneity is related to the essential autonomy of the person of which we shall next speak.
i) Detachment and Autonomy. Creative persons are inner-oriented, and need privacy and some degree of withdrawal. They are in the world but not of it. They "march to the music of a distant drum" and hence need quiet in order to hear it. While not in the least immoral, they are often unconventional; they obey a higher inner law, rather than a lower outer statute. When Thoreau was in jail for refusing to support the Mexican War and Emerson bailed him out, Emerson is supposed to have said: "Henry, why are you here?" to which Thoreau replied: "Ralph, why are you not here?" This exchange is an excellent example of autonomy, as Thoreau's three years at Walden Pond is an excellent example of detachment. Creative persons appear to have psychological needs for both of these aspects, even though their expression often causes pain to their more conventional friends. Maslow (1954:212-213) discusses both of these qualities in the self-actualizing person. Of detachment he says: "They like solitude and privacy more than the average person." Their extreme concentration which requires privacy is interpreted as coldness by some people. Their autonomy results from a transcendence of lower orders of the Maslow hierarchy which require others, to one which requires the best in oneself. As a result, these persons are relatively stable in adversity, and maintain serenity and content in the midst of the vicissitudes of life.
j) Gemeinschaftsgefuhl (Brotherly love). This quality is often seen in higher creatives. It manifests itself in a general reverence for life (Schweitzer); "We are all tarred with the same brush" (Gandhi), or a broad humanitarianism (Eleanor Roosevelt). American culture tends to suppress this gentle quality in favor of violence and self-interest, so it is often more seen in other peoples; it is a much more noticeable aspect of New Zealand life, for example. It is fostered by a sense of communitas, and it answers Cain's question: "Am I my brother's keeper?" Maslow (1954:217) says of this quality: "They have for human beings in general a deep feeling of identity and affection." He notices their "general desire to help the whole human race" "as if they were all members of a single family."
k) A Philosophical and Unhostile Sense of Humor.It may seem surprising that Maslow would mention this quality, which is denigrated as a rather low one, but is in fact a characteristic of the highest importance. Whenever you see a humorist of this type, always suspect a philosopher of deep wisdom underneath: Mark Twain, Voltaire, Artemus Ward, Mr. Dooley, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Will Rogers, and Art Buchwald are all examples. Humor of this type stems from semantic flexibility plus the ability to see behind appearances to reality. It also requires ego-transcendence or psychological objectivity. The humor must be unhostile (like Mr. Magoo of the movie shorts), not concerned with our insensitivity to the woes of other people. It is closely connected (as was seen in Lincoln's stories) with the telling of parables, which is a kind of verbal analogy. Humor is a peculiar characteristic of creative persons, in that it is one of the earliest predictors (appearing even in childhood) as well as being one of the highest evidences. Maslow (1954:222) found humor common to all of his self-actualizers. It was not, however, the common type of humor; it was "the humor of the real because it consists in large part in poking fun at human beings in general when they are foolish. It masked a deeper philosophy.
1) Psychological and Semantic Flexibility. One of the very interesting aspects of continued creativity is the development of a very considerable degree of psychological (affective) and semantic (cognitive) flexibility, which turn out to have emergent properties. Both cut down on the inertia of the mind, making it easier and more expeditious in the change required for new insights. Rothenberg (1971)calls this process "Janusian thinking," which he defines as the capacity to conceive and utilize two or more opposite or contradictory ideas simultaneously. The higher reconciliation of these ideas often leads to a creative breakthrough (e.g., the "complementarity principle" in physics). Semantic flexibility also allows the individual to avoid semantic traps which engulf the formal operations philosopher; one zeros in on the similarity of process not being confused by the dissimilarity of different languages used to describe the process. This sort of semantic flexibility leads to "problem-centering" and "problem-finding" so noticeable in really creative persons, whereas most other people get lost in the maze of symptoms, or in their outraged reactions tothe situation. Psychological flexibility is an evidence of the dismantling of the egocentricity so characteristic of earlier stages. The truly creative person does not need to support his ego at the expense of the crisis situation. Finally, such flexibility leads to an ability to understand and deal with general systems theory, another effort at looking beneath the empirical to find logical unity in seeming diversity.
m) The "Witness" Phenomenon. Although not mentioned by Maslow, this effect is also part of the final perfection of creative performance. It was earlier suggested by Huxley (1954),who observing the limiting function of personality structure on consciousness said:
We should do well to consider much more seriously the type of theory which Bergson put forward in connection with memory and sense perception. The suggestion is that the function of the brain and nervous system and sense organs is in the main eliminative and not productive ...
This"reducing valve" theory that each of us represents "mind at large" but that the brain protects us from all this information by shutting off most of it, has significant consequences for the theory of creativity as an opening to this collective preconscious. An outcome is that the more creative we become, the more of this input we can assimilate. Sri Aurobindo (Satprem, 1968:43) calls this phenomenon "the witness," for part of ourselves witnesses the cosmic mind within us thinking on many aspects of different problems at once, whereas our individual mind can think only of one. Discovering the witness in ourself discloses that "the mind is not an instrument of knowledge, but only an organizer of knowledge" (Ibid:45). All this cosmic activity is going on in consciousness, and our expanded consciousness taps into it.
Underhill (1930:366) makes the same point in noting the similarity between creativity and mystic ecstasy:
As the saints are caught up in God, so these are caught up in their visions; these partial apprehensions of the Absolute Life. . . . Their greatest creations are translations to us, not of something they have thought, but of something they have known in a moment of ecstatic union. . . .
4.38 Creative Organization: General Systems Theory
In the lower levels of creative production, the individual engages in creative problem-solving. In the higher levels, the mind becomes an organizer of the knowledge which wells up in it from creative openings in the preconscious. Organization is anti-entropy; it is order in place of disorder. Consequently, it validates our general theory of creativity to find that it introduces "a new and higher order" into experience. One would expect this emergent property to occur if creativity is a stepping stone on the pathway to self-actualization.
The essence of this order or organization is to find unity in diversity, the same process in different products, a universe filled with isomorphisms. Metaphor, analogy, and homology are primitive aspects of this process, but there are higher considerations to which we need to turn.
There are several examples of this emerging order in man's understanding of nature. Mathematics, especially set theory is one, cybernetics, based on the feedback principle another, and information theory a third. Systems and human engineering theories are a fourth, decision theory a fifth, and general semantics a sixth. Since each of these areas has its own extensive literature, we shall turn to a seventh, that of general systems theory, which is far younger, less organized, and much less well known. It is generally accepted that while some earlier writers had glimpsed the outlines of the subject, general systems theory was founded by von Bertalanffy in his classic of the same title (1968).
Bertalanffy (1968:vii) defines his subject as follows:
Systems theory is a broad view which far transcends technological problems and demands, a reorientation that has become necessary in science in general . . . It is operative with varying degrees of success, in various realms, and heralds a new world view of considerable impact.
Bertalanffy (1968:38) states the purposes and aims of general systems theory as: "a tendency toward integration, centered in a general theory of systems, aiming at exact theory in nonphysical fields, which develop universal principles toward a goal of unity in science, which can lead to integration in scientific education."
Although Bertalanffy had published before then, general systems theory got its formal start in an informal meeting in 1954 at Palo Alto of K. Boulding, the economist; A. Rapoport, the biomathematician; R. Gerard, the physiologist; and Bertalanffy. They founded the society for General Systems Research, which later became a division of AAAS. The yearbooks General Systems edited by A. Rapoport have served as the house organ.
The genius of Bertalanffy, the founder of General Systems Theory, was according to Laszlo (1972:4-8) that he was the first to recognize that the process of organization of scientific knowledge might be as important as the product. This concept involved holism rather than analysis, integration rather than differentiation of scientific knowledge, the unity of nature in a diversity of forms, and the emphasis on scientific humanism rather than mechanical technology. It has come, concludes Laszlo (1972:11) "to represent a new paradigm of contemporary scientific thought," and it provides science with a new and very powerful tool.
Buckley (1967:39), a sociologist, points out that systems theory concentrates on organization and involves the following advantages:
(1) a common vocabulary across several disciplines;
(2) a technique for treating organized complexity;
(3) a synthetic approach where a holistic analysis must be made;
(4) a study of relations not entities; and
(5) an operational study of purposefulness and goal-seeking behavior.
Bertalanffy (1968:81ff) also notes that general systems theory depends on isomorphisms. These in turn rest on cognition, reality, and the organization of the universe in mathematical terms. He points out analogy (superficial similarities), homologies (identical basic laws in different disciplines) and the explanation of specific laws as special cases. These general notions "acquire exact expression ... only in mathematical language."
Others who have made efforts in the direction of general systems, but whose work is too demanding for our summary treatment are the physicist lberall (1972), the economist Boulding, the linguist Watzlawick (1967), the physiologist Gerard, the educator Clark (Laszlo, 1972) and the mathematician Rapoport (Laszlo, 1972).
Of all the ways of expressing the basic concepts of general systems theory, the most useful is that of set theory in mathematics. It is none other than Laszlo (1972b:19) who says: "Looking at the world in terms of such sets of integrated relations constitutes the systems view."
The individual who has contributed most to the application of mathematical set theory to general systems is Stuart Dodd, a retired professor of sociology at the University of Washington. (A summary of his Epicosm Model of the Universe will be found in the Appendix.) Briefly (but incompletely) stated, actants (the set of all names) interact in all possible ways to organize the cosmos (the set of all things namable) in all of its parts. Nature works in the cosmos to organize creation in terms of exponents (logarithms) to the base two (bit-logs).
Bertalanffy (1968:42) points out that the bit-log of N equals the amount of information from N questions.
"This measure of information happens to be similar to negative entropy, since entropy is also defined as a logarithm of probability. But entropy is a measure of disorder; hence negative entropy is a measure of order or organization . . . "
So Dodd's system works in bit-logs, with four fundamental operations: pairings (2x), squaring (x2) , norming (2x), and fulfilling (xx). These operations are special cases of the enumerative generator (1 + 1 / n) n , which give rise to basic constants (such as the square root of 3), whose four fundamental function values constantly recur.21 Since general systems is viewed as the only science of which all other sciences are but applications, these basic sets and constants are related to all physical laws and constants (such as E=mc2 and the speed of light), all of which may be derived from them.