“From the living fountain of instinct flows everything that is creative; hence the unconscious is not merely conditioned by history, but is the very source of the creative impulse.” (Carl Gustav Jung)
I’m feeling inspired to write poetry these days, and this has me thinking about creativity. Jung says creativity originates in our instincts. In other words, our body, with its physical needs and functions, is the matter (L. Mater), or mother, of our urge to create. And the psyche governs our responses to our instinctual urges.
Jung said we have five basic instincts:
“Whatever creativity is, it is in part a solution to a problem.” (Brian W. Aldiss)
Nurturance: Our bodies need fuel, and we get hungry, irritable and desperate when we don’t get it. They also need protection from the dangerous and uncontrollable forces of nature. Some human caring and creature comfort don’t hurt either. So if we, our loved ones and our tribe are to survive and prosper, our basic needs for nurturing and being nurtured must be met. Thus, creativity originally arose in the marshalling of conscious thought and focused behavior to create the necessary tools, weapons, strategies, rules and codes of conduct that would satisfy this instinct.
“The essential ingredient for creativity is wasting time.” (Anonymous)
“I have always regarded manual labour as creative and looked with respect – and, yes, wonder – at people who work with their hands. It seems to me that their creativity is no less than that of a violinist or painter.” (Pablo Casals)
Activity: Food and water don’t just automatically show up in edible and potable form when we need it, so we have to get off the couch and do something to procure them! And once we have thoroughly stuffed ourselves it feels good to celebrate with other creative activities such as walking dinner off, participating in games and athletic competitions, and cleaning and fixing up the cave.
“The emotional mind creates, and the rational mind explains it. Another way of saying this is, your ‘heart’ perceives it and your ‘head’ translates it.” (Alvaro Castagnet)
Reflection: If, after all this eating and fooling around we have a spare moment or two, and if we still feel comfortable and secure, our thoughts move into new areas. For example, we might reflect on how beautiful the sunset is; figure out how not to starve or freeze to death next winter; wonder why the kids are so cranky! So we ask questions and try to solve problems. We devise strategies and make plans. We create religious rituals to thank the earth, the animals, the plants and the gods for meeting our needs and to make sure the sun will rise in the morning, spring will return, and a saber toothed-tiger won’t have us for dinner.
“The creative process is a cocktail of instinct, skill, culture and a highly creative feverishness. It is not like a drug; it is a particular state when everything happens very quickly, a mixture of consciousness and unconsciousness, of fear and pleasure; it’s a little like making love, the physical act of love.” (Francis Bacon)
Sex: Every living creature is born with the instinct to preserve the species. Plus, humans and other complex animal forms have an instinctive need for love and intimacy with others. And it feels good! So we use our creativity to attract partners and be appealing to them.
“I believed that I wanted to be a poet, but deep down I just wanted to be a poem.” ~ Jaime Gil de Biedma
Creativity: So the instincts activate our creativity and creativity is itself an instinct, an urge that satisfies our souls and enriches our lives in numerous ways and forms. Stories told around the fire. Figurines of animals and gods. Vessels for food and flowers, gathering and gifting. Music: songs, dances symphonies and the instruments to play them. Painted images from myths and dreams. Delicious foods. Ornaments for our bodies, fabrics to wear and beautify our homes, poems to enlighten and inspire us, to make works of art of our very lives.
And in the process, to make life worth living.
“Creative activity is more than a mere cultural frill, it is a crucial factor of human experience, the means of self-revelation, the basis of empathy with others; it inspires both individualism and responsibility, the giving and the sharing of experience.” (Tom Hudson)
“If I didn’t have my films as an outlet for all the different sides of me, I would probably be locked up.” (Angelina Jolie)
“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To them… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create – so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.” (Pearl S. Buck)
“When I can no longer create anything, I’ll be done for.” (Coco Chanel)
The Wilbur Award is given by the Religion Communicators Council for excellence in communicating religious faith and values in the public arena and for encouraging understanding among faith groups on a national level.