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ASPECTS OF CREATIVITY


 

Do the influential visionaries, pragmatists and balance  strikers comprehend the fundamental nature of creativity? 

Do they comprehend that ‘the creative impulse has the potential for not only positive, but also negative, expression? 

Would they, if having taken an infinitesimal dip into this deep and limitless ocean, better appreciate that creativity can bring into being both ecstatic dreams and horrific nightmares? 

If both influential and grassroots people were to become convinced that somehow we have to change the way we do things, and that change is in fact imperative, how would they go about it?

In Store Price: $AU27.95 
Online Price:   $AU26.95

ISBN:   978-1-921574-38-2 
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 264
Genre: Non Fiction
/Self Help/Reference

 

 

Author: Dulcie M. Stone
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2009
Language: English


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REVIEWS:

The only other books I’ve seen on creativity and its place in  society have been by American authors and not nearly as good.

……..Hilary McPhee — former Vice Chancellor’s Fellow of  Melbourne University. 

Congratulations on the wonderful work that you have been doing.

……..Professor David Biles OAM, consultant criminologist

About the Author 

Dulcie May Stone, born Dulcie May White in Melbourne 1924, has won acclaim as an author, educator and campaigner for people with disabilities. She has been awarded an MBE for service to the handicapped (1981), was selected International Woman of the Year in 1996/97, was included in the Outstanding People of the Twentieth Century Selection and, with her late husband, received an Apostolic Blessing in 1989. 

Dulcie has previously published the following works:

Fiction

Tools of War. Zeus Publications. 2007.

Dark Oasis. Poseidon Books (an imprint of Zeus Publications). 2007.

Fay. The Australian Institute on Intellectual Disability, Canberra. 2006.

Chance’s Children. Spectrum Publications. 2003

Ask Me about Saturdays. SMARTBOARD Internet Publisher. 1997.

Ask Me about Saturdays. SpringDale Publications. 1993.

Hullo Fay. Self Published. 1991.

Jonny Love. Spectrum Publications. 1982.

I Laugh I Cry I Feel. Spectrum Publications. 1978.

Included in the International Year of the Disabled selection, Bologna Book Fair, 1981.

Autumn Music. Zeus Publications. 2008.

Non-Fiction

Switching on the Light. Spectrum Publications. 2002.

Becoming a Writer. Stone & Associates Publication. 1996.

Parent Power ’94. SpringDale Publications. 1994.

What’s Volunteering & What’s Not? SpringDale Publications. 1993.

Towards the New Dream. SpringDale Publications. 1993.

For Adults Only? Upper Yarra Community House. 1990.

Principles of Voluntarism. Community Service Victoria Publication. 1988.

Teaching with the Retarded. Spectrum Publications. 1979.

Parent Power. Mildura and District Educational Council Publication. 1971. 

An editorial committee member of ‘Interaction’, the Australian Institute on Intellectual Disability quarterly journal, Dulcie retired from teaching in 2006. She enjoys a busy family life with her four children, twelve grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.

INTRODUCTION

 

Aspects of Creativity follows the 2002 publication Switching on the Light (promoting emotional maturity). The 2002 title was based on the words of primary school teacher Sean Kennedy, who said: ‘When a child starts to feel good about themselves, you can see it. It’s like a light is suddenly switched on.’ 

Written for educationists, parents, social workers and all adults who work with children, and endorsed by the Catholic Education Office, Switching on the Light is the account of the personal experiences which led to my appreciation of the powerful influence of creativity; personal experiences which also witnessed disturbing demonstrations of evil at work.  

Feedback from readers has been encouraging and inspirational.  

(Addenda 1) Excerpt from a letter:  

Your remarkable book is a work of major importance … The only other books I’ve seen on creativity and its place in society have been by American authors and not nearly as good.

 

Hilary McPhee, Vice Chancellor’s Fellow

Melbourne University  

November 11 2002  

Excerpt from an email: 

We are investigating a community cultural developmental model, engaging professional community artists (as opposed to therapeutic models) in cross disciplinary research between Criminology, Creative Arts and Education. I can see that you have been a pioneer in this area for some time. Alas it is a long hard battle we have to convince the bureaucrats of what we know.

 

Kiersten Coulter

Department of Criminology

University of Melbourne

February 27 2003 

These, and others like them, switched on a personal light which asked new questions: 

Why confine my ideas to the educational world?

Why not more generally explore the influence of positive and negative creativity? (Addenda 2)

Why not also explore the influence of positive and negative creativity nationally and internationally, contemporarily and historically?

And, because of my continuing alarm at the escalating pragmatism and violence of today’s world, why not endeavour to put my thoughts on paper? 

Aspects of Creativity is the outcome. Combining my multi-faceted personal experiences with relevant research, it is an infinitesimal dip into a broad, deep, limitless and sometimes terrifying ocean. 

Its aim is essentially simple: to provoke thought as to why comprehension of the fundamental nature of creativity is universally critical.      

The following two statements provide valuable insight:  

1. A report to the Division of Cultural Development of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) states:  

‘Arts centers and arts programs are dedicated to the idea that each person, no matter how handicapped, has a unique vision, and that everyone should have the opportunity to express his or her individuality and creativity through the art experience.’

Submitted by the International League of Societies for the Mentally Handicapped 1980

 

2. An excerpt from A World History of Art states: 

‘The main thread of this work is to be found in the close dialectical relationship between the free creativity of the man-artist and his enduring toil to solve the concrete problems of individual and social existence. Art is awarded a place in this historical evolving, which equals and sometimes even anticipates any other human activity.’

Gina Pischel. Gild Publishing. London 1976. 

BUT – creativity is not confined to the arts.

CHAPTER ONE - SAMPLE CHAPTER

 

WHAT IS CREATIVITY?

 

Creativity: state or quality of being creative, ability to create.

Create:  to bring into being or form out of nothing:

              to bring into being by force of imagination:

  to make, produce, or form

              to design

  to invest with a new form, office, or character

  to institute

              to be the first to act (a part); to make a fuss.

(Definitions from Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary)

 

Consider:

 

Nowhere is ‘creativity’ defined as having the quality of virtue. If creativity is not necessarily virtuous, could it also be its opposite?

Could creators make not only ‘good’, but ‘bad’? Could creativity be not only positive, but also negative?

 

Common usage is enlightening

 

(A) Examples of common usage expressions of positive creativity:

 

The audience at a fashion parade applauds, ‘How uniquely creative!’

The viewers at an art exhibition admire, ‘So creative! So gifted!’

The judge of a dance competition, ‘I’m looking for creativity.’

The football commentator, ‘He’s such a creative player.’ (Positive, of course!)

(B) Examples of common usage expressions of negative creativity:

 

The exhausted nurse trying to cope with a fractious patient complains, ‘The old girl’s creating again.’

The struggling antique dealer groans, ‘I’ve made a loss.’

The villain in a TV melodrama, ordering an assassination, says, ‘Be creative! Think of something!’

‘Knife attacks create fear on London’s streets.’

     (Headline The Age 17 May 2008)  

 

Now consider two more word definitions:

 

Nihilism: belief in nothing, extreme scepticism, nothingness.

Annihilate:    to put out of existence.

                     to crush or wither by look or word.

(Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary)

 

Nihilism and annihilation are in all our lives. They are evident in the racists and the bigots. In the cynics who deliberately belittle, ridicule, and corrode. In those who crush and divide by word and look and manipulation; in the destroyers who continue to create new ways to destroy; in the bullies who continue to create new ways to bully.

 

Nihilism and annihilation are evident in premeditated murder. Their ultimate is mass murder and genocide.

 

What have nihilism and annihilation to do with the ‘creativity’ which, despite the meaning implicit in the common usage examples of negative creativity, is generally pictured as intrinsically positive?

 

Chambers Dictionary has more. In defining nihilism it adds:

 

In Tsarist Russia a terrorist movement aimed at the overturn of all the existing institutions of society in order to build up anew on different principles.

 

In this bright new twenty-first millennium, for which there was so much initial hope, the dictionary’s addition has a shockingly familiar ring.

Planned total destruction of existing institutions of society in order to build anew on different principles.

 

There’s a potent new millennium example (one among too many): The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, China. Proposed in 1919 by Sun Yat-Sen, construction began in 1997 and is to be completed in 2009. A critical source of hydropower, and planned to provide power to the equivalent of a third of China’s homes, the Three Gorges Dam is a dramatic symbol of China’s economic power.

 

In order to construct the Three Gorges Dam more than a million people had to be relocated; entire counties, towns and villages were annihilated.

 

With the goal of creating a clean environment, which can be achieved by switching off a significant number of coal-fired power stations, in 2008 environmentalists are reporting major water pollution, associated earthquake activity, as well as loss of fish and rare plants.

 

Interviewed on Foreign Correspondent, ABC TV on 20 May 2008, a dam engineer reports: ‘We have to balance negative and positive aspects of the creation of the dam.’ 

 

The account of the dilemma of the creators of the Three Gorges Dam spectacularly illustrates the dramatic complexities of ‘man’s enduring toil to solve the concrete problems of social existencein a broad community context.

 

To illustrate ‘man’s enduring toil to solve the problems of individual existencethere’s a personal story:

 

Seventy-seven kilometres east of Melbourne, in the Dandenong Ranges region, is the small country town of Warburton. Originally occupied by the Woiworung Aborigines, and becoming one of the noted Victorian gold rush towns, it is now deservedly acclaimed as a very beautiful place in which to relax and to escape from pressure.

 

In 1990, as coordinator of the Upper Yarra Neighbourhood House Adult Literacy Program, I was one of the workers associated with Warburton’s inaugural BookFest. The following article resulted:  

 

Creativity Corner

(First published in the Victorian Rural Women’s Network magazine 1990)

 

(Perhaps the best testament to its success was the fact that children at the painting tables, when their parents came to collect them a bit too soon, insisted on taking with them the books they were producing to finish at home. Rosemary Nissen – Upper Yarra Mail)

 

The theme of the third Warburton Bookfest, chosen in recognition of International Literacy Year, was Literacy Through Creativity.

 

This was demonstrated in a colourful art display by adult literacy students, together with an exhibition of wonderfully imaginative reading posters entered in the competition for school children. We wondered, as the parents collected the children from the painting, writing, drawing corner: What do you think it’s all about?

 

Was the Creativity Corner a device to occupy children while parents indulged in the serious business of inspecting the variety of books available? Or did it, of itself, have a distinct purpose?

 

The Creativity Corner, and its success, epitomised what we believe the International Literacy Year should be about. Creativity breaks through the walls of self doubt which too frequently accompany limited literacy skills in adults, and an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure.

 

The Upper Yarra Adult Literacy Program provides, in addition to a one-to-one literacy program, a creativity program which encourages self expression through the arts in a relaxed, accepting, stimulating and positive environment.

 

This atmosphere, which actively combats the entrenched fear of failure, serves as a spring-board from which the tutors are enabled to more quickly and happily assist the students to break through their walls of self doubt, low self esteem, and unworthiness.

 

Simply stated, in literacy and numeracy there is almost always a correct answer.

2 + 2 = 4 is correct and 2 + 2 = 5 is incorrect. House is spelt correctly. Huse is spelt incorrectly.

 

A set of outside rules has to be satisfied.

 

However, in self expression (creativity), only the individual expressing self has to be satisfied. Creativity, in this respect, removes fear of failure. So why the Children’s Creativity Corner?

 

Because we believe: an ounce of prevention etc…

 

The parents who became aware of our purpose were delighted. The children, by making their own books and posters, were combining creativity, literacy, and sometimes numeracy. They were using their imaginations, expressing themselves in a relaxed, accepting, stimulating, and positive environment where caring people praised their work and encouraged freedom of expression without criticism. Not for these kids the self-doubts, the fear of failure, the low self-esteem that plagues so many adults who desperately come through our doors looking for help.

 

Our contention is that schools should more actively encourage and promote this link of the creative and the academic. Many do. But, as we realised during the Bookfest, the net should be spread more widely. Most parents, if they only realised it, would welcome the opportunity to smooth their offspring’s path through the academic jungle. Encouragement of self-expression – through art, music, writing. drama, dancing etc – is possible for all parents.

 

It seems to us that readers of NETWORK would be especially receptive to this idea. The following lists are from the Nature of Creativity:

 

Positive Self Expression                                   Negative Self Expression

Constructive choices                                         Vandalism

Responsible decisions                                       Illegal graffiti

Enjoyable activities                                            Self mutilation

Constructive recreation                                     Disruptive behaviour

Safe channels for expressions of                     Destructive/abusive

grief, anger, frustration                                      expressions of grief, anger,

                                                                               frustration

 

Dulcie Stone 1990

The lists were later expanded to:

 

Positive Creativity                             Negative Creativity

Art                                                      Illegal graffiti

Drama                                                 Bullying

Music                                                  Disruptive behaviour

Creative writing                                    Self mutilation

Dance                                                 Petty crime (e.g. shop lifting)

Sport/athletics                                      Vandalism

‘Safe’ expressions of grief, anger etc.    Destructive expressions of

                                                           grief, anger etc.

 

Creativity, both positive and negative, happens as the result of choice. Whether conscious or subconscious, creativity results from a choice to ‘bring into being’, ‘to make’. Whether positive or negative, creativity results from a wide range of emotions and motivations.

 

Negative creativity resulting from pragmatic motivation may be the choice of ruthless persons or regimes.

 

Three examples:

The choice to construct the Three Gorges Dam

The choice to persecute the Jewish race

The choice to use the atomic bomb to annihilate Hiroshima

 

In each, there is the coldly calculated choice to be negatively creative.

 

Negative creativity resulting from a limitless range of emotions may be the choice of individuals or groups.

 

Three examples:

Premeditated choice made by an abused spouse to kill the abuser.

Premeditated choice made by a lone teenager to commit mass murder on his college campus.

Premeditated choice made by the suicide bombers of 9/11 and Bali.

In these, there is the coldly calculated choice to be negatively creative.

               

In The Age on 2 August 2008, Professor Germaine Greer stated: ‘Rage has nothing to do with creativity.’(3)

 

The examples already given would argue otherwise. So what kind of ‘rage’ is she talking about?

 

First, there’s a question. What is the precise definition of rage? Consult the dictionaries. It’s unclear. Take your pick. Definitions range from madness through anger to furious activity to ardour to current vogue.

 

Consult the medical encyclopaedia. It’s a fact that manslaughter, murder, extreme violence and acts of blind ‘rage’ may result from physical brain disorders in which there is no choice; that is, no choice to bring into being, no choice to act – no creativity.

 

One indisputable brain disorder which gives its victim no choice is psychomotor (temporal lobe) epilepsy. Violent actions which are the product of an episode of psychomotor epilepsy, or other such clinically proven physical brain disorders, contain no element of creativity.

 

It’s confusing. Murder and mayhem and violence are sometimes acts of negative creativity and sometimes not.

 

NB. As in the two following cases, all cases are factual. However, names initially placed within quotation marks are fictional names given to actual people.

Case 1:

‘Charlie’ was a charmer, generally good natured and easy going. As the result of a childhood fall, Charlie suffered from psychomotor epilepsy. It caused him to fly into terrifying ‘rages’, when he committed acts of extreme violence against others, and sometimes on himself. As he grew older and bigger, his medication had to be regularly adjusted. Sometimes belated adjustment resulted in shocking consequences. He nearly killed his best friend. He broke his own hand punching a brick wall. Charlie was the victim of his physically traumatised brain. Absolutely no choice was involved.

 

From Pears Medical Encyclopedia: ‘One form of epilepsy which is of medico-legal importance is the attack which takes the form of extreme violence while the patient is in an altered state of consciousness.; this is known as an epileptic equivalent or automatism and may take the place of a fit or follow on, so that the individual may carry out murderous attacks which are quite pointless without knowing what he is doing. Fortunately, however, these are not very common.’

 

Case 2:

‘Ted’, in his early teens, was a former mainstream school student. Fortunately, experience with Charlie preceded our meeting. Small and wiry and suffering wounded self-esteem as a result of incessant teasing and bigotry, Ted also frequently flew into abusive rages and lashed out at anyone unfortunate enough to be in his line of sight. It took very little to set him off. An imagined insult, a petty misunderstanding. Unacceptable, but understandable. Hopefully reversible.

 

Until one memorable day Ted tipped over the edge and viciously, irrationally, attacked a group of his close friends. Empathy, intuition, experience – something triggered my alarm bells. As a result, his family consulted a leading neurologist. Ted, who was suffering from the psychological trauma caused by his experiences with teasing and bigotry, was diagnosed as also suffering from the physical trauma of psychomotor epilepsy.

 

In this one small body were two totally unrelated causes of violence. One required choice, the other imposed no choice. One was caused by the emotion of passionate rage which, if not adequately controlled by learning to choose self-discipline, would result in ongoing acts of violence. The other was caused by the physical but passionless brain trauma which, if not adequately controlled by relevant medication, would result in ongoing acts of extreme violence.

 

In this teenager’s unfortunate body, the negative creativity resulting from school yard abuse was accompanied by the very rare affliction of committing acts of violence because he was the victim of psychomotor epilepsy. The adults nurturing and educating and medicating Ted would have to co-operate in a Ted-specific program based on recognition of which ‘temper tantrum’ was which.

 

To take the two types of violence within the one body to a stark what-if scenario:

 

If Ted kills in a fit of passion-inspired rage, he will be judged to be responsible for his actions. He will therefore be tried, and assessed and sentenced, accordingly.

 

Why? Because committing violent action as an expression of passionate rage is, at some level, a choice.

 

Even though, in the culminating act of criminal violence the brain may have been flooded by ‘rage chemicals’, the preliminaries have been subject to choice; a moment of choice which asked – ‘Do I find a way to master the rage, or do I let the rage master me?’

 

If Ted kills while suffering an epileptic psychomotor episode, he will be judged to be not responsible for his ‘automatic’ actions. He will be tried, and medicated and managed, accordingly.

 

Why? Because committing violent action as the direct result of clinically demonstrable brain damage does not involve choice. The form of epilepsy in which pointless violence is committed in an altered state of consciousness, automatism, gives the patient no choice.

 

For Ted, there is a good-news ending. Fortunately, both effective medication and the opportunity to learn to emotionally grow towards mastery of self-discipline fused into a happy outcome. Ted is now a well-adjusted adult, respected in his family and community, and in mainstream employment.

 

Questions persist:

 

Was the psychomotor episode which led to Ted’s diagnosis the first?

Was his condition due to birth trauma?

Acquired brain damage resulting from an early childhood accident?

A recent teenage incident?

Finally, had the emotionally unstable Ted actually killed one of his friends in that first verifiable psychomotor episode, who would have wanted to be on that jury?

 

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