Creators on Creating – Awakening and Cultivating the Imaginative Mind

Barron, Frank Montuori, Alfonso & Barron, Anthea Creators on Creating – Awakening and Cultivating the Imaginative Mind, Penguin Group (USA) Inc. New York, NY Copyright © 1997 by Frank Barron, Alfonso Montuori and Anthea Barron

Creators on Creating

This particular book is one of a series entitled The New Consciousness Reader edited/authored by reputable experts in the fields of healing, spiritual growth, personal development and psychology.

This particular book is an absolutely compelling compilation of both original and classic writings by an assemblage of Creators writing about Creating – Awakening and Cultivating the Imaginative Mind. Frank Barron is professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz and is known as a leading expert on the study of creativity. Dr. Montuori is associate professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. Anthea Barron lives in Santa Cruz. Sections of this work include The Uncovered Heart, The Opened Mind, The Web of Imagination, The Creative Ecology, The Dedication to Mastery, and The Courage to Go Naked. Authors and authorized pieces include 39 individual readings from the likes of Laurence Olivier, Frank Zappa, Igor Stavinsky, da Vinci, Tony Kushner, Maurice Sendak, Michael Focault, Carl Jung, Rainer Maria Rilke, Henry Miller, Annie Dillard and William Butler Yeats — to name only a few. Each section contains an important orienting introduction written by Dr. Alfonso.

I adored the splendid variety contained in this volume. Admittedly, some of the names of the authors whose pieces were shared here, I have never heard of them before. It is the diversity of the insights, stories and thoughts that truly made me come back for more each day, until I had devoured the entire volume. I grew by reading this book. I’m certain you will too.

In the introduction, Frank Barrone writes: “creativity is a quest for meaning. It is an attempt to penetrate the mystery of the self, and perhaps the even greater mystery of Being. The very origin of existence is open to creative exploration, and the science of this century has posed new questions, large and small – intriguing , challenging, important questions.” (p.2). The manner in which we humans live out our creative potential is aptly portrayed in the content of this volume – necessarily inhabited by novelists, musicians, composers, poets, dancers, physicists, scientists, playwrights and the like.

Creativity is a gift to the human species that can be developed – even taught, as Barrone says: “Creativity is a specifically human resource. It is part of the general human potential, something we can cultivate in ourselves if we set out to. It is also something that can be nurtured in others who are close to us and perhaps in our care. Teachers can help foster creativity in students, parents in children, and children in parents! It can work both ways, and it can be an important part of the mutuality that helps make all of us stronger.” (p.5).

Here are some other particularly poignant excerpts I truly appreciated:

“The power to create is potential in all of us, and that we should express it in small ways if great and grand ways are beyond our means.” Frank Barrone  – P. 12

“Without our creative dissidents, where would we be?” Frank Barrone – p. 13.

“The creator creates and is created by the creating.” Pamela Travers – creator of Mary Poppins – p. 36.

“You’re a craftsman – essentially your job is to be a vehicle for other people.” Anna Halprin – dancer – p. 46

“When we think of the creative mind, we think of the generative mind, full of ideas and brilliant new insights. But the creative mind is both full and empty. It is able to create within itself a space for the new to arise. It is a mind that is constantly opening itself to the internal and external world.” Alfonso Montuori P. 57

“The opened mind thrives on difference and remains open to the contradictory.” Alfonso Montuori p. 57

“important inventions almost always cross the lines of disciplines. You don’t develop an invention  by having one hundred guys working for five years to produce an invention. You have one guy who may be flaky in his field and who jumps around and puts shit together in unlikely ways and sees something its hard to imagine.” Kary Mullis – molecular biologist – p. 70.

“Moving between fields is the way to be creative. Keep your fingers in a lot of pies. I do because I’m curious. Kary Mullis – molecular biologist – p. 73.

“To settle upon what one knows and act upon it and stick to the decision that has been made – This sort of thing is very necessary for other purposes, but this is the very thing which must be thrown aside when one is trying to make a new creative step.” J.G. Bennett – mystic and philosopher P. 77.

“for something to enter, a place must be made for it.” J.G. Bennett – mystic and philosopher P. 79.

“Words are powerful beyond our knowledge, certainly. And they are beautiful. Words are intrinsically powerful. And there is magic in that. Words come from nothing into being. They are created in the imagination  and given life on the human voice. We do not know what we can do with words. But as long as there are those among us who try to find out, literature will be secure; literature will remain a thing worthy of our highest level of human being.” – N. Scott Momaday – novelist and poet – pp. 160-161.

“What I want to see is the demise of fundamentalism in favour of pragmatism. By fundamentalism I mean any philosophy that thinks it has the final and unique answer, that believes there is one essential plan underlying the workings of the universe, and seeks to make sure everyone else gets persuaded to get in line with it. By pragmatism, I mean improvisation: the belief that there are many approaches, that whatever works in the light of our present knowledge is a good course of action, and that what is the best course of action for us, here and now, might not be for someone else, there or then.” Brian Eno – music producer – in Why World Music? P. 167

“The creative process involves a tension between opposites, and nowhere is that tension more apparent than in the need to balance freedom and exploration with the disciplined fine-tuning of our craft. Creativity is a gift, some say, but not a gift that survives without practice.” Alfonso Montuori – author – p. 171.

“This guest (‘inspiration’) does not always respond to the first invitation.” Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky – composer – p. 181.

“Thus, what concerns us here is not imagination in itself, but rather creative imagination: the faculty that helps us to pass from the level of the of conception to the level of realization.” Igor Stravinsky – composer – P. 191

“Whatever field of endeavour has fallen to our lot, we are called upon not to cogitate, but to perform.” Igor Stravinsky – composer – P. 190.

“Creativity involves a degree of risk taking, if only because we have invested so much in our product that we do not want to see it flop. We have pinned our hopes on our creative ideas, and we want some degree of recognition and reward, whether social or financial. The moral is, get out there and do it! Take it off! In the realization of the dream is self-realization, in its impact is its proof, in our creations we complete ourselves.” Alfonso Montuori – Author – p. 205 – Introduction to the section entitled “The Courage to Go Naked.”

I truly adored all the diverse, nutritious insights in this book, only a small handful of which I have shared above. I recommend it.

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