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October 7 or
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September 17-23

Creativity [1]

by Harvey Jackins

It is the nature of human intelligence to be continually creative.

In the longer Re-evaluation Counseling workshops, individual workshop members astound each other by their ability to paint, compose, write, choreograph, sculpt, assemble and create in hundreds of ways. What people in Re-evaluation Counseling workshops present to each other on creativity show-and-tell night is truly a glimpse into the infinite ability and variety of the human mind.

Continual creativity is needed in our Re-evaluation Counseling Communities, especially where our theory and policy impinge on broader fields. We need to come up with thoughtful and workable answers and directions in the schools, in factories, in the scholastic disciplines, in work with children, prisons, armies and churches.

Creativity requires boldness. It requires bravery. Fears of anything new sit heavily on most of us. It is not surprising that, trying to be creative but in the grip of unsuspected chronic fears, we sometimes come up with distortions and uncreative notions in the name of creativity.

Re-evaluation Counseling has a rigorous, integrated theory which should guide all applications of counseling, but the applications themselves should be flexible and creative. The technique that is just right for the particular client or the particular session is the one that you invent yourself just that moment, not the one that you borrow from something you’ve read.

Novelty is not necessarily creativity. To introduce disorder and degradation into an ordered effort is to produce novelty but is not creative. To abandon responsibility, to portray deterioration and patterned behavior as basic reality, is not creativity. Creativity operates in an integrating, positive direction.

Understandably, people rebelling against existing negatives sometimes settle for other negatives, because under the conditions of our oppressive society, it often seems that to do something different must necessarily be better than going along with the status quo and the things that are obviously wrong (e.g., the “rebellious” decision to use marijuana instead of alcohol). The result is not creativity, however, except by sheer accident. To see who can make the most novel mess does not guarantee something creative emerging.

(It’s always possible to take any disaster or any mess as a starting point, and from that proceed to achieve and integrate and grow, but that is a different process entirely.)

Variety is not necessarily creativity. Not all new combinations or variations are necessarily significant, and to be truly creative requires the creation of something significant. A mathematician, for example, given a set of axioms and definitions and undefined terms, can grind out an almost infinite number of theorems from them, but most of these will be meaningless and valueless. It takes intelligence (often operating intuitively) to conjecture which theorems are significant and to seek to prove these.

Not the making of messes, however new and strange; not the abandonment of responsibility simply because responsibility has become rigid in our society; not settling for mere novelty; none of these fulfill the requirements of creativity. Creativity involves something new and something significant, something positive, something in an integrated direction. At workshops we have a glimpse of how all of us can create well. With more understanding the day can come when every act at our hand will be a creative one in the finest sense, and men and women will rejoice in each other’s accomplishments from minute to minute.

[1]  Appeared in Present Time No.11, April 1973.

Last modified: 2023-04-15 09:24:12+00