Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Article: Ten paradoxical traits of the creative personality.

(All of the following excerpts were taken from the article "The Creative Personality" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. My thoughts/comments about the posted excerpts are italicized in brackets. The article can be read in its entirety here:

Here are the 10 antithetical traits often present in creative people that are integrated with each other in a dialectical tension.

1. Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they're also often quiet and at rest...The important thing is that they control their energy; it's not ruled by the calendar, the dock, an external schedule. When necessary, they can focus it like a laser beam; when not, creative types immediately recharge their batteries. They consider the rhythm of activity followed by idleness or reflection very important for the success of their work...
[Absolutely true for me -- 'focus like a laser beam' is a very accurate analogy for it. And I DEFINITELY need that idle time to recharge. A casual observer might mistake it for laziness, but intense focusing like that does take a LOT out of me.]

2. Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time...Another way of expressing this dialectic is the contrasting poles of wisdom and childishness. 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...
[Wisdom and childishness... haha. Yep, I can identify with this, too.]

3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility. There is no question that a playfully light attitude is typical of creative individuals. But this playfulness doesn't go very far without its antithesis, a quality of doggedness, endurance, perseverance...
[This one and #2 are pretty closely related -- kinda ties the first two together, actually. I am typically very laid-back and childish, I goof off and stuff, but I am dead fucking serious when it comes down to working on creative projects.]
...Despite the carefree air that many creative people affect, most of them work late into the night and persist when less driven individuals would not...
[I can't count the number of nights I have spent working for hours at a time until I am ready to drop dead from exhaustion, and even then, I won't go to sleep til I finish what I'm working on.]
4. Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality...But the whole point of art and science is to go beyond what we now consider real and create a new reality. At the same time, this "escape" is not into a never-never land. What makes a novel idea creative is that once we see it, sooner or later we recognize that, strange as it is, it is true...
[Part of an artist's gift, I think, is the ability to connect imagination/fantasy to reality in a way that makes sense to a more general audience.]

5. Creative people trend to be both extroverted and introverted...In fact, in current psychological research, extroversion and introversion are considered the most stable personality traits that differentiate people from each other and that can be reliably measured. Creative individuals, on the other hand, seem to exhibit both traits simultaneously.
[FUCK YES -- this is very, very much me. I didn't figure I was the only one like this or anything, but I had no idea this was actually a common trait of artistic people. Wow.]

6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time...Their respect for the area in which they work makes them aware of the long line of previous contributions to it, putting their own in perspective...
[Yes, definitely.]
...And they're usually so focused on future projects and current challenges that past accomplishments, no matter how outstanding, are no longer very interesting to them.
[Yes, DEFINITELY. I am usually bored with something the moment I finish it, haha.]
...At the same time, they know that in comparison with others, they have accomplished a great deal. And this knowledge provides a sense of security, even pride.
[Indeed. While I feel DO feel pretty non-egotistically proud about all the things I have accomplished, and though I DO appreciate positive feedback about my work, I STILL have trouble accepting compliments. Part of me loves that time in the spotlight, part of me feels totally under-the-microscope and almost squirmy uncomfortable.]

7. Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping... psychological androgyny is a much wider concept referring to a person's ability to be at the same time aggressive and nurturant, sensitive and rigid, dominant and submissive, regardless of gender. A psychologically androgynous person in effect doubles his or her repertoire of responses. Creative individuals are more likely to have not only the strengths of their own gender but those of the other one, too.
[YES, absolutely YES. I have felt psychologically androgynous since I was a child; I was very much aware of it for about as long as I can remember.]

8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative. It is impossible to be creative without having first internalized an area of culture.
[Besides, you have to know the rules before you can break 'em. :P]

9. Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well. Without the passion, we soon lose interest in a difficult task. Yet without being objective about it, our work is not very good and lacks credibility.
[Of course passion is essential to art, but in order to be a serious artist, one MUST be able to accept criticism - which is where the objective part comes in; one should always try to see the work from an outside perspective. Positive AND negative feedback about one's work is part of what helps one to evolve and improve, and to be an artist -- and indeed, an intelligent being -- is to NEVER stop evolving, in my opinion.]

10. Creative people's openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment.
["The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain." -- Khalil Gibran]
...Divergent thinking is often perceived as deviant by the majority, and so the creative person may feel isolated and misunderstood.
[Story of my fucking life!]
...Perhaps the most difficult thing for creative individuals to bear is the sense of loss and emptiness they experience when, for some reason, they cannot work. This is especially painful when a person feels his or her creativity drying out.
["You do not know how paralyzing that staring at a blank canvas is; it says to the painter, You can't do anything." - Vincent Van Gogh, Letter #378 (to his brother Theo), October 1884]
...Yet when a person is working in the area of his of her expertise, worries and cares fall away, replaced by a sense of bliss. Perhaps the most important quality, the one that is most consistently present in all creative individuals, is the ability to enjoy the process of creation for its own sake.
[And it really IS bliss. I swear to christ, if I didn't have art, I'd be fucking dead. Creating art is literally what keeps me alive sometimes. Art is my god.]

1 comment:

AstroSphinx said...

Now that was very interesting.. I take these silly tests which try to map the psychological personality types and for the most part, even with different tests the line between extrovert and interovert are very blurry..

Now about 25 years ago I took an astrological analysis test based upon this same psychological idea of these ideals of introvert/extrovert-thinking/feeling judgement/ (and whatever that other one was) which gave me then.. when I had no real Understanding of these personality type tests and what they symbolise in the action of the person...

it came up with some of the same results.. which is kind of impressive since I was only about 13 at the time..

And it was due to an analysis of planetary placement and how each planet expressed itself, I really thought it summed me up quite well.. when one is both interverted and extroverted equally as well as thinking and feeling equally, it is not only quite rare but it means you have a number of tools and flexibities at your disposal.

Its great that way..but the flaw is that people don't trust people with these traits because we are as the situtation calls for it.. where as other people rarely be any more than what they have trained themselves to be like or think like. In other words, the flexibility the creative mind has, only makes those who don't think in these ways more suspecious because they don't know or understand the reason they don't know what to expect..

In a way, when one thinks "outside of the box" you always find yourself in the learning process in order to explain how you came to that conclusion.

There is something to be said for that anquish though.. I have been overwhelmingly sick, and physically I feel the flux of the energies which have always been so strong which gave me the ablity to both work that "normal" job, go to school on scholarship, and play in the I am and I'm very scared that if I run my energy any less than that pace, back then its like a death sentance.. its like being trapped in a life where I only have simple options.. this is the time when I have to give up all the other things to work as an artist.. so I am in a strange place at this time.. a certain despairation to strive to go beyond the duties as a normal person and just kill all that for my inner work which no one really the risk of pissing off every single person in my personal life.. but time is running out and it eventually had to be done.

as you can see I relate to all of this.

Thanks for posting this.