Language of Love (Flavor of the Week)

The Fallen Angel by Luis Royo

The Fallen Angel by Luis Royo

Language of Love: Heart of Creativity

This is the third and final installment in the three part series (Part One & Part Two). The inspiration for the entire series came from articles I read on the Creative Crisis occurring in America and the debates on whether a heightened focus on STEM education and standardized testing helps or hinders the next generation of workers in the United States. The Creative Crisis first gained popularity due to a 2010 NewsWeek article which thoroughly covers the contribution and importance of creativity, not only to the workforce but also for the development/growth of individuals and society as a whole.

Quick Overview: a Professor named E. Paul Torrance designed a creativity test back in the 1950’s. Much like the IQ test, Torrance’s creativity test was given to elementary school kids but instead of testing for intelligence (IQ) his test measured their levels of creativity. Over the years it was discovered that Torrance’s test had a three times stronger predictability on lifetime creative accomplishments, from childhood to adulthood, in comparison to the IQ test. This meant if you scored strong on Torrance’s test as a child then you were more likely to become an entrepreneur, doctor, inventor, college president, author, software developer or diplomat when you became an adult. So as you can imagine, Torrance’s test became viewed as a valued asset though oddly enough, still does not hold the same cachet as the IQ test.

But the major issue this NewsWeek article brings to our attention is since 1990 the creativity score for Americans has been dropping. This is significant because creativity is not only essential to the business world but is also crucial to solving a variety of global issues (poverty, hunger, war, health). This same article mentions how creativity was rated the #1 leadership trait in an IBM poll conducted on 1,500 CEO’s. Novel ideas are the new currency in an emerging Creative Age but while Europe and China are restructuring their childhood education models to promote creativity/creative thought, America, on the contrary, has turned to STEM.

STEM education is being promoted in our school system because these disciplines (science, technology, engineering & math) are seen to be most applicable in the real world. Students who are strong in these fields are thought to have the greatest chance of success once they graduate college and head into the workforce. The problem with this thought process is only 1/4 of STEM graduates end up in a career that necessitates heavy STEM study. And on top of that, less than half of all workers in STEM related occupations actually have STEM oriented degrees. There is an obvious and profound reason for this discrepancy…

The greatest scientist are artist as well – Albert Einstein

Famously, Einstein would play his violin when addressing deep scientific problems and considered imagination to be of higher value than knowledge to thinkers/scientists. To corroborate his thoughts & actions, contemporary research has found that music has a legitimate effect on heightening creativity and problem solving skills. Music performs this task by increasing theta waves which enhance creative thought within the brain (side note: meditation and sleep also generate theta waves). From anecdotal experience, I’ve often meditated or listened to music to send me into a meditative mindset in order to compose verses, prose and story structures for books. As noted in the 2010 NewsWeek article, both the left (analytical) & right (abstract) sides of the brain are essential for creative thought.

It was once believed that the artsy/creative side of our thoughts resided exclusively in the right hemisphere of our brains but NewsWeek notes that it is the connective interaction between the two halves which combines to originate novelty. From NewsWeek, “Creativity requires constant shifting, blender pulses of both divergent thinking and convergent thinking, to combine new information with old forgotten ideas. Highly creative people are very good at marshaling their brains into bilateral mode, and the more creative they are, the more they dual-activate.” Translation: it is the combinatory play between the various lobes of the brain which allows for the emergence of creative answers in problem solving.

Creativity requires constant shifting…to combine new information with old forgotten ideas.

If you read the 2nd post in this blog series then you’ll recognize the relationship between the above quote and the intrinsic purpose of the Heroine’s Journey. The integration of diverse ideas is not only at the heart of creativity but it is essential for human development and societal growth.

Social brain theory postulates that the size of an animal’s social group drives the complexity and eventual size of their brain. Comparatively speaking, human brains are abnormally large in relation to their bodies. This discrepancy is due to the complex and increasingly diverse nature of our social groups which possibly led to our development of language. Coincidentally, learning an additional language has been shown to increase the size of our brain to which similar results are not seen with the study of other disciplines. Not only that but multilingual multicultural people are often more creative than their monolingual/mono-cultural counterparts. Thinking of and perceiving life from a multitude of angles allows you to formulate a depth of thought which provides access to a variety possible solutions when considering a problem.

We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them – Albert Einstein

Think of it this way, ideas are like gene pools; the more varied, diverse and larger they are, the better chance a species has of survival (finding a solution). Brainstorming in a group and bouncing ideas off of one another, in essence, achieves the same objective as sex…you’re mixing the gene pool to hopefully arrive at a better (evolved) answer. The more varied and diverse your life experiences are, the deeper and more enriching your ideas (gene pool) will be. Just like in nature, novelty and creativity frowns upon incest (regurgitating the same thought process over and over again).

Language is the gateway to another’s mind which allows for the cross pollination of ideas and experiences. It is not a coincidence that every time a prehistoric human population would reach a certain critical mass then arts, language (symbolic thinking) and religious behavior would arise. Arts and symbolic thinking were at the dawn of human societies as we now know it. This is how essential the arts are to our species and civilization. Art is a language spoken through various forms of expression (painting, sculpture, decorative pieces, song, dance, instagram post…etc). Each expressive gesture tells a story that is relatable within the culture it arose. A ring for marriage is a symbolic message stating “I’m here with you through thick and thin, til death do us part”.

Try not to become a man of success but rather a man of value – Albert Einstein

When we do not have the financial tools to travel the world and visit other cultures then literature, history, art and music expose us to those other worlds and in so doing, expand our cultural gene pool (access to diverse ideas). This is why interdisciplinary studies have such a wide range of intellectual benefits to critical thinking. It is also why Finland allows children to be children yet still has immense success when it comes to educational progress. This is why STEM should become STEAM (science, tech, engineering, arts, math). We must keep the humanities in school because if evolution has taught us any thing it is that when it comes to human societies, survival of the fittest means survival of the connected, compassionate and diverse. Creativity thrives off of communication more so than competition.

The significance of The Fallen Angel by Luis Royo

The Fallen Angel (art atop) tells a story that perfectly illustrates the essence of this blog trilogy. The male angel (Life) represents the one who left the host of angels because he had grown bored and weary of the civil life referenced in Virtues of Moriarty & the Joker. After departing, Life pushed himself beyond the limits and constraints of the others as he was able to become something more but…

In doing so, his connection to the host was severed as he became lost in the machine of progress (The Heroine’s Journey). The talent and gifts Life received quickly became a curse as he realized any personal treasures one may have lose their value if there’s no one to share them with. It was at this moment she came to him…

The female angel (Love) came, embraced and reaffirmed his connection to the host. Love allowed him to be while bringing balance to Life without holding him back; she accepted and integrated his gift as he too accepted her. This is where art and creativity is born, through the development and interconnections of Life the old world becomes new as two become one in Love.

Art is a language, an interactive mirror, that inspires and speaks to us in different ways. It not only reflects the mind/world of others but it also reflects our own so that we may better relate to ourselves while also providing a path of growth through this connection. Luis Royo’s art speaks to me, it resonates with something going on inside and so I connect with it in a way that allows me to relate him while also getting a better understanding of what’s going on inside of me so I may move forward and grow from this. Life is growth; Love is the connection. This is the heart of creativity

2 Comments

  1. Rob Culpepper

    Good stuff. It kind of reminds me of “Rise of the Creative Class” by Richard Florida.

    While I would add that there are some STEM fields that allow for creativity, part of the problem is protecting that creativity.  The Chinese, for example, seem to have zero respect for intellectual property, and a creative idea is mass produced without any research/development investment at a fraction of the cost.  Whether a better widget, better computer code, or a better formula, the Chinese are experts at reverse engineering most things our STEM Creatives create.  “Thanks for the awesome idea, now we’ll collect the proceeds.”

    To borrow a concept from economics, this almost makes a STEM Creative a “common resource” shared by everyone, and that is dangerous when trying to encourage innovation.

    1. Soul of Suw

      Very true,

      People will become very stingy with their ideas and sharing them with others if they see the proceeds go to someone else who did not put in the work and effort to develop the idea.

      And agreed, STEM’s inherently have to be creative in order to be true innovators in their field. Like Einstein “The greatest scientist are artist as well”. Problem is as a society we have to recognize the importance of interdisciplinary studies and do throw all the humanities and arts out with the bath water because they truly are important to innovation.

      Oddly enough, artist liberally borrow ideas from other places on a regular basis to create new pieces of art. They say there is no such thing as a truly original idea because it only the assembly and recombination of a vast array of old ideas. Art often comes from personal experience and then you take that personal experience, twist it a bit then add a little flavor from somewhere and come up with something novel.

      It’s a gray areas between straight up copying someone else’s idea and “borrowing” liberally.

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