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Does Pressure Create Greatness?

Artistic expression is vital to my life. As a philosopher interested in how to live well, the process of creativity informs my study of philosophy. Indeed, it helps me experience connection and it invigorates me.

4 months ago

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“Nothing pleases me more than to go into a room and come out with a piece of music.” -- Paul McCartney

#What is the container and what is the contained?

#Love, creativity, dream, imagine

#All you need is love

#Living for today

Artistic expression is vital to my life. As a philosopher interested in how to live well, the process of creativity informs my study of philosophy. Indeed, it helps me experience connection and it invigorates me.

When I saw the quote above, I thought McCartney probably mentioned the seclusion of writing a song in a room rather innocuously, because that is what we do when we want to be creative, right? We go somewhere alone and concentrate really hard until we arrive at a marvelous idea.

Certainly, there is difficult, structured work involved in writing a song; but I wonder, is a room an adequate metaphor for how a great idea forms? Does the creator place him or herself under pressure to facilitate creativity, or does the process involve some experience of expansiveness?

Paul McCartney and John Lennon—the two best-known members of the Beatles (perhaps the most successful band of all-time)—famously had some artistic differences and ultimately parted ways to successfully pursue careers as solo artists. A great deal has been written on these two men, their relationship, and the reasons why the Beatles broke up. I think their differences can provide an interesting philosophical comparing and contrasting similar to the distinction discussed above – enclosure vs. space.

If we “imagine,” as John suggests, what does that make possible? Where do our minds go, what do we discover, and what change manifests in our lives? What is imagination, after all, than a flight into some other aspect of reality? For that to be true, the cognitive space, which we currently inhabit, must exist in relationship to some other possibility. The concept of freedom relies on such potential for new discovery.

When I choose to enter a room, I recognize certain psychological effects created by the room itself. I often experience comfort and stability or perhaps the warmth created by the familiar sense of being at home. One of the Beatles most popular song topics: love, is both comforting, warm, and familiar, while at once causing us to experience something outside of ourselves. That is the central question of the process of creativity. Does it cause us to explore the unexplored, or does it ask us to return to something we believe we know, and see it a different way?

To contain something like love, or creativity for that matter, seems antithetical to their undefined nature. That’s why analytic processes cannot capture them. However, love can subdue the anxious human inclination to seek in response to a feeling of need, whereas creativity can bring into focus what was previously unstructured and perhaps angst-inspiring.

Ryan M. Christman

Published 4 months ago