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The Column icon The Column: Issue 14

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The Column is a monthly feature that explores the world of creativity and aesthetics.

Man As Mother
Mike de Sousa, Director, AbleStable

My 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 primordial soup.

The Persistence Of Being


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 Sacks

Dr 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:

'...As 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, dreaming, consciousness.

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.

Dr 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:

'I 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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Authors background
Mike de Sousa is the Director of AbleStable®. Mike has been commissioned as an artist, music composer, photographer, print and web site designer, and author.

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