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What are your views regarding a rational basis for creativity? I often found that I am most creative when I don't feel well - I wrote some good songs when I felt depressed. How can you be creative and happy? Because it seems I cannot. And I am not alone - it is often said that great artists and songwriters were borderline or depressed.

asked Oct 24 '10 at 15:31

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edited Jan 26 '11 at 12:55

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Greg Perkins ♦♦

As Ayn Rand explains in The Romantic Manifesto, artistic creativity is the result of the artist's sense of life. If the artist is torn by a conflict between his conscious philosophy and his sense of life, it is his sense of life that will inevitably show through most strongly in his artistic works. If the artist (or anyone else) becomes aware of the conflict and how to resolve it, the process of changing one's sense of life is nevertheless likely to be very slow and gradual, if it occurs at all.

For more on sense of life, refer to "Sense of Life" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon. Be sure to check out the cross references at the end of that topic, also, especially "Artistic Creation" and "Esthetic Judgment."

answered Oct 26 '10 at 00:43

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Ideas for Life ♦

I suggest that the connection you mention is due to unhappiness's working to focus the artist's attention. Creativity, which I define following Herbert Simon as something that is new and valuable, results from a clear and strong senitivity to the value in question. It is that element which guides the construction. Misery can have that sort of focussing effect. It is not the only or best way to achieve such focus, though.

answered Nov 09 '10 at 22:26

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Mindy Newton ♦

Generally, creativity is a process of selection. The medium or purpose of a work of art delimits the project. Assuming a primary purpose to create something, such as writing a novel about heroic resistance to a debauched culture, or composing music that expresses a love that has no object, or painting a picture that captures the peace of a night desert, there are a finite set of ways to proceed. The goal guides you, but it is your whole person and mind that chooses the specifics, and they are chosen because you find in them the meaning you wish to express. So, that meaning, or artistic vision, must be very strong and very specific. You must know clearly and passionately what you wish to create. The choices and decisions you make in the concrete operation of writing/composing/painting, etc., are guided by your own sensitivity to the thing you wish to express.

Note that this is essentially the opposite of the modern idea of creativity, which rejects all constraints, structuring thematics, and pre-existing goals. The liberal worship of creativity comes from the belief that it escapes reason and facts, truth and objective judgments.

answered Nov 10 '10 at 15:49

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Mindy Newton ♦

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Asked: Oct 24 '10 at 15:31

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Last updated: Jan 26 '11 at 12:55