World Creativity Week! And about time to. You can never get enough of all things creative. Because creativity‘s great isn’t it? Like apple pie, Christmas and Easter bunnies all rolled into one? Well, yes and no. Not really. ‘Creativity’ and our recent glamorisation of all things creative really needs a good shake up. And here’s a start, to mark the beginning of World Creativity Week.
Hardly a day goes by without some semi serious science documentary on the TV earnestly exploring the architecture of the brain and attempting to explain concepts such as love / creativity / God in terms of the sides of your brain, the shapes of your frontal lobes and the wiring of your neurones. Everything’s down to ones’ neurones these days it seems. And, by extension, ones’ genes. And ergo, combinations of ones’ quark, strangeness and charm presumably.
Inordinate amounts of time, energy and money have been expended by some clearly brilliant people to wrestle out and pin down once and for all, those nuisance concepts which can’t easily weighed on your kitchen scales or nailed into a specimen cabinet.
The tools of neuroscience allow us to look inside the brain, to capture insight as it strikes, so they say. Here’s Dr So-and-So, attempting to find the neural correlates of creativity we are breathlessly informed. He’s invented some cool experiments involving throwing frogs up in the air and reciting Shakespeare out loud at random and asking the audience to reveal what they think when they experience this fiendishly intelligent experiment.
Through various cunningly hidden external electrodes, Dr So-and-So reveals that there’s the equivalent of a mini nuclear explosion in the brain when some act of creativity / God / blahdeblah – make the electrodes go pop.
Well, so far so good although the irritating paradox that refuses to shut up in this orgy of enthusiasm for description, categorisation and fixation is that these very acts which are attempting to define creativity / baked beans / God are themselves directed by the very thing they are trying to measure ie the brain. Its like trying to measure the size of your shoe with a shoe of an identical make and tells you nothing about the shoe you’re trying to measure: other than it’s like the other shoe.
Perhaps we might spend our creativity research efforts more fruitfully towards understanding how creativity is not actually all about what’s in my brain or your brain at all – but about the relationship between us. Creativity arises from the gravitational pull of relationships of people: not merely the length of our individual neurones or the prominence of our frontal lobes – which always look great after a couple of vodka martinis in any case.