Supercharging the Creative Process:
A Roadmap Toward Better Art
Part 7, Tracing the Creative Path
Construction is still at the level of symbology. A symbol is anything with mass, meaning and mobility. Words are symbols. So would be a 2 x 4, because it has mass, meaning (as a structural member) and mobility. In this way, even the human body is a symbol. Whereas the thinking part of you is not.
So up goes the frame of our house, the walls, the roof. And per our plan, on goes the paint, the landscaping with sod and trees. What we have is a house, but not a home. Now it must again go through a second phase of creativity, since now we are starting back up the other side of the circle toward the top. And so we have the application of additional creative efforts onto the existing creative project.
Interior design, lighting plans, music systems might be infused into every room to bring the sense of aesthetics to the highest possible plane. At this level, ornamentation takes the form of furniture, draperies and paintings on the walls. Perhaps mom plants flowers. Sets out photos of grandparents. Kids bring in their toys. Dad hooks up the stereo and TV. Now we’ve got a home.
Next comes organization and we’ve got schedules. Dad sets up the alarm and leaves for work at 7:00. Mom gets the kids up at 6:30 and fixes breakfast. Kids go to school and play soccer on Saturday morning. And what we have is a family doing all the things families enjoy doing.
Further organizational actions include the setup of various “production lines” around the home. Mom stocks pantries and cabinets with all the tools, equipment and supplies necessary to serve meals. She sets up laundry facilities for the production of clean clothes. Dad sets up a workshop in the garage for projects and chores around the house, hose and bucket for washing cars and shelving for storage. The kids put their toys into place—their “production line” for play time or sports. There are areas set up for the production of entertainment and relaxation, such as TV areas or patios for guests. There is often a production line providing for visits from friends and relatives—a little mini motel within the home called a guest room and bath. In fact, virtually every space with a home will be assigned some kind of function: guest room, exercise room, dining room, play room. These are all production lines having to do with the organization and management of home life.
When we look into the greater context of the neighborhood for there is a group with it’s own organization of sorts however disjointed. At its best a neighborhood is a team with active members who protect each other’s property and look after children to keep them safe and secure.
Members of the family are parts of groups in that society—dad and mom have their friends at work and social circles. Kids have memberships at day care and schools, they have friends, classes, and teams they each play a part in. All the various groups family members belong to are part of the greater organizational level as we move back up the circle to the top.
With the full organization in place for family living, and requisite activities taking place, various memberships in groups around town, the home soon gains a unique fingerprint or personality. What kind of family is it? What character do they have? Conservative? Progressive? Happy? Sad? Functional or dysfunctional? Is this a tragedy or triumph that takes place within the walls we built? What are the unifying themes or common denominators that belong to this particular family in this particular home? For they aren’t just “a family” they are the “Smiths” or the “Van Pelts” or the “Abrams.” And as such, like it or not, their lives are stamped with a unique trademark and woven with a common thread.
What is the theme of this family? What genre are they living—comedy, tragedy, drama? The family who lived in the big (now empty) million-dollar house on the corner on my street had an overpowering theme of the hollow facade in the genre of tragedy.
When building the house they tore down the old one under false pretenses and were caught in the fraud by their own neighbors. As soon as their new 5,000 sq foot house was built, the husband was caught cheating on his wife and so he vanished. It took years for the bank to foreclose on the home during which time the wife and grown kids lived by a sense of entitlement in the home which they neglected to pay for or earn. This resulted in the wife being distinctly unfriendly to other neighbors. On the eve of foreclosure, the squatters moved out at 1 AM stripping the house of every knob, faucet, toilet, sink, speaker, appliance, flower pot and even some countertops.
The bank put the house on the market at a discount but did not find a buyer. A freeze came and no one bothered to turn on the heat so the pipes froze and burst, flooding the ground floor and ruining the wood floors. And so even after the family has gone, their legacy of unfriendliness and destruction lives on at least in my neighborhood and the house stands as a monument to the hollow facade. None of the other homes in my neighborhood are nearly as sad. But every neighborhood has mixture. There is good and bad in all people and in every neighborhood, sure.
Getting back to our thread, each family member is a human being and thus part of the human race and as such they have a responsibility to help and protect their fellow members of the human race.
Volunteerism has risen in prominence in the last two decades and has become quite popular. Many people have at least one activity they volunteer for in the spirit of helping others. This giving spirit really kicks in in times of tragedy due to fire, flood, tornado, explosion, etc. In these times, many people come together to help others selflessly. That’s part of the job of being a member of the human race. I myself believe that helping others strictly as a volunteer (refusing any offers of payment) has a tremendous impact on something called depression. “Depression” is the consequence of the failure to help others on a strictly volunteer basis. I challenge anyone who is suffering from depression to go out and spend three hours in the service of mankind. Help raise money to support cancer victims. Help homeless children. Help clean up the environment. And do it for free and the effort will put you on a mental high that lasts for weeks. It’s not just a “good idea” to do something selfless. It’s a vital part of living. Is volunteerism part of your life?
For several years, I have run a whistle-blowing website exposing corruption and abuse within one large American corporation. I don’t earn a penny from it. But I do it because I believe every human being has a responsibility to protect our fellow humans from harm. If you see a predator roaming the playground, you don’t just turn your head and keep it to yourself. No! You speak up, loud and clear. Helping others as a volunteer is very rewarding.
But that’s not the finale yet for the evolution of our home. For around the home springs other forms of life—plants and animals. There are grasses, shrubs and trees to provide shade. There are squirrels and birds and often a raccoon or family of opossums, not to mention cats and dogs. Providing for these other life forms is also part of the home-owner’s role. Birdseed, water, structures and shade. As a neighborhood matures, it is amazing how tall trees take over the skyline.
I remember a hilltop I looked from as a child, where all I could see were rooftops with the occasional tree. Not so today. Now, the only thing visible is the canopy of tall mature trees that have grown up in the ensuing decades. Looking at old photos of my hometown from the 1920s and 1930s it is amazing how the entire place was devoid of trees. By comparison, the city today looks positively lush with a virtual carpet of beautiful green lawns, and plant life of every size and description.
Upon the greater playing field where the neighborhood sits, there may be nearby parks or community centers, projects involving the whole city and certainly services like the provision of water, electricity, gas, trash pickup, fire response, medical services and police protection all of which play a role in the establishment of a home. Meanwhile the home itself has now become an indelible part of the greater community landscape. Does it make the picture more beautiful? Or detract?
So depending on who they are, this family reaches out and affects their friends and neighbors and to a greater or lesser degree, they ultimately have an impact on the world around it. They leave their mark. You may not know what mark they leave, but everyone and everything leaves its mark and contributes to the greater body of existence.
And as people travel through that community, many will see our home. If it has been designed artistically, perhaps with a quality approaching art, then it will stand as a portal to our better ideals as the art form of a home. And as such it may spark thought. I know in my own neighborhood, once we started doing things to fix up our house, some of our friends in the neighborhood also got inspired. After all, creativity is nothing if not fun. And it is certainly contagious. And so there is a contribution to the greater body of thought no different than how the addition of a painting in a museum inspires its share of thought.
And so we move up higher and higher rounding toward the top on our journey to go full circle. As we move through along the effect diffuses as it reaches a broader audience.
By affecting the lives of friends and family, neighbors and acquaintances, this process of creation that started with everything, moved into thought and on down, coalesced into symbols and objects and finally a house then a home, then a family, then a part of the history of the world itself.
Affecting the world around them, the family in turn brings new ideas to certain people and changes minds. How have families you’ve known changed the ideas you had? Was the change for the better? Perhaps the change was for the worse. The point is the creative process is really a cascade that reaches ever further, one day touching and helping to mold the very ideas that make up the universe of thought in which we exist.
Many of our great artists were unknown in their time. But now their influence has cascaded outwards until their names have become household words known by virtually every member of civilization, including young school children.
Thus as we now approach the top of the circle, the example of our new home, lived in by a family who has put a unique imprint of their own identity upon that house, now adds to the overall collective that is the infinite universe no matter in what tiny way. Whereupon it becomes a future example for others to draw from (or avoid drawing from) who will begin the creative cycle at infinity/nothing.
Next: Part 8, Creation Ends Where it Begins