Wednesday, March 17, 2010

the creative personality

Recently I came across this 1996 article by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi based on a study of the creative personality. I love those rare moments when I can really recognize myself (or others, as the case may be) in a study like this. The first phrase to grab me was the following:

When we're creative, we feel we are living more fully than during the rest of life.


After that I was hooked!
The crux of the biscuit is in this segment:

If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it's complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an "individual," each of them is a "multitude."


Csikszentmihalyi goes on to cite 10 pairs of antithetical traits present in creative people, all fascinating, b
ut of all the examples, I especially like and identify with this one:

As Howard Gardner remarked in his study of the major creative geniuses of this century, a certain immaturity, both emotional and mental, can go hand in hand with deepest insights. Mozart comes immediately to mind.


Not that I'm elevating myself to the level of Mozart, but the truly creative people I know have a very silly side to their personalities.
But enough from me ~ read the article!

14 Comments:

Blogger Caroline said...

Well all I can say to that is - run - your it!

18/3/10 12:16 AM  
Blogger Lorenzo at the Alchemist's Pillow said...

Thanks, Andrea, I certainly will read the article, lured on my the little snippets you have posted. The idea that we feel we are living live more fully when we are being creative is so simple and clear and so true. I liken it to travelling, one of the only activities in life that seems to make time, if not stop, at least slow down and notice us a bit. The idea that we should each view ourself as multitudes instead of as just one individual also chimes out strongly for me (and me, and me and me and ...)

And as for the silly side of genius, who would not like that observation?! At least I know I have half of the balance filled; it's that other scale that seems so hard to cover ...

18/3/10 1:12 AM  
Blogger donn w2Nz said...

That seems to be true and I am trying to ascertain why that is as I am typing. Do Creative people need to examine problems more than solve them? Is the process of coming at it from the perpendicular the adrenaline rush? Cartoonists transform complex multifaceted equations into bite-sized recognisable components that allows more people to understand it.
I love this line.. "Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals"
We're not incurable idea hoarders because we want to share and scrounging is what we do because others can't see the value in the thing until we've made it for them.
Does that make any sense or should I take a few more hoots and try again in twenty minutes? Gawd Cheetos are amazing and I am willing to bet that because of their complex unnatural origin that they must fit into every food group..which is waaay cool if you think about it.

18/3/10 11:08 AM  
Blogger dinahmow said...

Yes, it has been noted by others.Does my irreverant, silly nature mean I'm uber-creative?

But right now, we're being told to batten the hatches as Uluis is on the way. (They said the same about Hamish and he went south!)

18/3/10 12:36 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

Caroline: D'oh!

Lorenzo: Interesting you should say that about travelling. When I wasn't making art I was addicted to travel.

D'ohnn: I think I know hat you're saying about the examination ratehr than the solution. For example, I love the process of painting but once it's done have no use for it any more. I'm always amazed when people feel possessive towards finished paintings. I also notice that the really creative have no trouble sharing their secrets. The non-so-creative -- well, not-so-much. (And quit hogging the Cheetos!)

Di: Was wondering about you today -- heard about the weather and wondered why I hadn't heard a peep out of you for awhile. Those of us on FACEBOOK figured you were just being pouty about social networking sites again. (Kidding. Stay safe!)

18/3/10 5:04 PM  
Blogger Hayden said...

humm, childish love of bright colors and bad jokes, addiction to travel/new experiences, and gosh, maybe my schitzy side is just my "multitude" showing!

Must go read. Finally, an excuse for the "cluster of personality traits" that leaves many of my friends scratching their heads. Actually, it points out what I've always known - I need more friends that are artists, fewer that are business people.

20/3/10 9:34 AM  
Blogger Hayden said...

Really fascinating article, thanks. The combo of intro/extrovert really triggered me too. I'm very happy living alone in the midst of rural Michigan. But I want to throw huge parties and have periodic house guests, too. The introvert side welcomes the quiet and mental space: the extro craves loud laughter and the often mad-cap antics of very large gatherings. Silliness writ large. And then I'm happy to return to my cocoon and write/study/slop bright colors on handy surfaces.

20/3/10 9:49 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

Hayden: I also exhibit both intro/extro characteristics. I've never really known what I am. This article was eye opening for me.

20/3/10 3:39 PM  
Blogger Melody said...

Great article Andrea...read it from start and finish ..resonated with me big time

21/3/10 11:07 AM  
Blogger Ian Lidster said...

So, like Walt Whitman, the creative contain 'multitudes'. For they must by their very nature, otherwise their work must by itself be tedious, unoriginal and highly derivative. Thank you Andrea for the link, which I shall read.

22/3/10 8:25 AM  
Blogger Ellen said...

I'm there whenever anyone makes reference to Csikszentmihalyi (say that 5 times fast), his writing on 'flow' defines what has meaning for me about the creative experience and why we go back for more. The introvert/extrovert thing is interesting, creating in isolation and craving that but the need to share and bond after the process is over. I'm definitely a combination of both.

22/3/10 10:44 AM  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

strange, i could have sworn i left a message to compliment you on this house which i love so much :D
also i believe this dude wrote a
book called Flow that i read that is real good!

28/3/10 5:15 PM  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

did you remove yourself from fb? you are not showing up?

28/3/10 5:16 PM  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

28/3/10 5:16 PM  

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