Column is a monthly feature that explores the world
of creativity and aesthetics.
Man As Mother
de Sousa, Director, AbleStable
passion is to communicate one simple message and
to provide a context for that message to thrive.
Perhaps I've never expressed this message before
in such a direct way although my writings and this
site are wholly devoted to its purpose.
We are all creative. The exploration and development
of our creativity is a fundamental component of
our humanity and connects us no matter who we are,
where we live, or what is important to us. It is
our best hope for both our survival and progress
as a species.
Why 'Man As Mother'?
'Man As Mother' has been floating around in my mind
as the title of an extended work for a long while.
The word 'Man' not only stands for 'mankind' - or
'humankind', but the title also invites the reader
to consider their ideas about a 'creative-centred'
view of the world. It doesn't only grab attention
as a headliner, but sums up many of my thoughts
about creativity. It's a 'poetic statement' with
a number of interpretations.
There are other political issues that arise from
the title that I'll not investigate in this particular
column although I will no doubt reflect on them
in the future. 'Man As Mother' is a work in progress
that will eventually be published at AbleStable.
In the meantime, many of my thoughts about what
will make up the complete work will be presented
in The Column.
Why We Create
It seems we create (both physically and mentally)
for two reasons: to survive and to reproduce. Being
able to solve problems through imagination and invention
significantly improves our chances of survival,
and without our in-built desire to reproduce we'd
have never past the point of being microbes in the
The Persistence Of
We share so many similarities with one another,
yet the differences between each of us are immense.
We act like a sea of tiny magnets whose polarity
changes from one moment to the next. We are at times
repelled by our neighbour, and at others, powerfully
drawn to them. It is rare that we consider why,
the forces are unseen but undeniable.
The one thing that distinguishes men and woman is
the woman's potential to nurture life within her
and to give birth. Much of our sense of who we are
and what we choose to do in life centre around issues
that arise from this difference.
Some might view the act of giving birth as the most
creative act of all, and perhaps mothers are generally
less concerned about their own mortality than non-mothers
because their offspring will likely continue well
past their own lifetime. For non-mothers however,
the need to leave a mark, to continue their story
in some way, is a powerful physiological imperative.
Being 'creative' (that which is born through imagination)
becomes a potent unconscious motivating force.
The Enlightened Oliver
Oliver Sacks is one of my few heroes. The first
book I read of his, 'The man who mistook his wife
for a hat', is masterfully written with great humanity,
clear thinking, and incisive commentary.
As a physician and a writer, Oliver Sacks is concerned
above all with the ways in which individuals survive
and adapt to different neurological diseases and
conditions, and what this experience can tell us
about the human brain and mind. His writings show
a profound interest and understanding of creativity:
a clinical neurologist I am most at
ease when I see patients and clinical
syndromes and when this gives me some
sort of window into the mind or what
it is to be human...
...On the whole, for the past century,
clinical neurology has looked at illnesses,
diseases, damages, abnormalities. It's
also looked at the lower parts of the
nervous system, and is only just now
beginning to address itself to questions
of sensibility, talent, skill, imagination,
A great fuss is made about consciousness,
as if consciousness is the top. I think
that the top is creativity. I think
creativity involves the depth of a mind,
and many, many depths of unconsciousness.
Although we have this single word -
creativity - and I think we recognise
creativity at once, its forms are endless...'
Dr Oliver Sacks
Except from the Australian National
University inaugural lecture at the
Centre for Mind in Canberra.
Sacks believes the 'artist' or 'creative person'
has access to the unconscious in a way that the
'non-artist' or 'non-creative person' doesn't. What
is particularly important to emphasise is that Dr
Sacks is not saying the 'non-artist' isn't creative:
think a genuine creativity and imaginativeness
is present in all of us. I think it's
an inherent quality of the human mind,
maybe the animal mind as well, but certainly
of the human mind, and one which is
irrespective of intelligence.'
Making It Real
The challenge and adventure is to take these ideas
of how we can know ourselves better, and express
them with actions that encourage our potential.
Perhaps a few interested souls will read my thoughts
on a page like this, but words, despite their power,
have their limits. Providing a context where creativity
is encouraged and flourishes is of far more consequence,
and in this we each have our worlds to influence.
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