Our world is no longer what we have thought it to be, and a new world is struggling to be born.
Visionary Creatives are driven to bring this new world to all of us.
4th August 2014

Visionary Creativity

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Persistence of Memory

Persistence of Memory

Our world is no longer what we have thought it to be, and a new world is struggling to be born

Visionary Creatives swim in the culture of their day and manifest in their work the spirit of their age. The things they create—in art, design, science, technology, business—embody that spirit.

INTRODUCTION

Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley, English Romantic poet

An Urgent Call

This book is an urgent call for creativity in our Selves, our economy, our society, and in our culture.

Our culture in the West is built on creative freedom, but today that freedom has diminished in Europe and is under attack in the United States. As we will see in this book, the loss of that freedom would pose threats to us on many levels: individually, we can be either passive consumers or active creators; economically, we can compete by lowering the cost of labor, or by creating new technologies, goods, and services; socially, we can live in the past or create the future, and most importantly, culturally, we can keep alive in Western culture a moral and creative center in the heart of each individual, or we can surrender that role—dare we say responsibility—of the individual.

We might wonder, why would creativity be under attack? Is not creativity, like mom and apple pie, an unquestioned good? Who would be an enemy of creativity? But as we will see in this book, a special form of creativity that we are calling Visionary Creativity can be a serious challenge to the status quo; it can bring us new worlds but also destroy old worlds, and those attached to old worlds do not care to see them destroyed.

Visionary Creativity is what van Gogh, Stravinsky, Einstein, Elvis, Rowling, Jobs, and others we talk about in this book did. But it not only created the great works of art, science, technology, and industry of the past, it is right now creating our emerging world as we move deeper into the twenty-first century.

Why is creativity important?

Why is creativity important? Let’s start by asking two questions and seeing how the answers to them merge: What do we admire in others and aspire to in our lives? And what do we wish for our society? We might answer that in our lives we aspire to… oh, maybe wealth, power, and beauty. Perhaps. But what about going beyond these for a truly fulfilling life? Then we might say we want engagement with the world, influence over it, and recognition for our accomplishments. In other words, we want a life of creativity.

And for our society? These are times of social, technological, and economic turmoil. Our old institutions are in distress and new ones to replace them are struggling to be born. We are cut adrift in almost every aspect of our lives, shorn of frames of reference, decentered in a world of change. But times of change can also provide opportunities for creativity, and we are becoming aware of new possibilities in our arts, sciences, technologies, institutions, and industries.

So looking at our own lives and at our social problems, we see that they both call out for creativity. We are creative creatures, we flourish best in pursuit of our creativity, and it is in creativity that we will find not only fulfillment for ourselves, but also the visions that our world needs. Thus the title of this book, Visionary Creativity. What exactly do we mean by Visionary Creativity?

Visionary Creativity: Creating New Worlds

Although creativity is vital to ourselves and our society, and although there is an outpouring of books on the subject, it remains poorly understood. There are in fact two kinds of creativity: Ordinary creativity, for example preparing a well-conceived meal, drafting a legal brief, or writing an episode of a sitcom; and the kind of creativity we see in Albert Einstein’s formulation of his theory of relativity and Salvador Dalí’s painting of his melting watches. We settle for saying that the creativity of Einstein and Dalí is like ordinary creativity, only more, but this is not correct. Einstein’s relativity and Dalí’s melting watches are examples of Visionary Creativity, a creativity that shatters old worlds and gives birth to new ones.

Let’s look very briefly at Einstein and Dalí. For Isaac Newton, space and time were absolute, uniform, and continuous, as though space were marked by a uniform grid and time by a universal clock. Space and time were potentials that we occupied, through which we moved. This was, of course, a notion in physics, but it was pervasive; space and time represented the stage on which all human action unfolded. We see this Newtonian stage in perspective painting with its implied grid converging at a vanishing point, and the figures captured in a moment frozen out of the continuous flow of time. But by the beginning of the twentieth century, that space and time were gone. In Einstein’s relativity, space is dynamic, collapsing in on itself, and time is elastic, as conveyed by Dalí’s melting watches.

The importance of this? Visionary Creatives like Einstein and Dalí respond to the culture of their day, and at the same time they change it, creating for us a new stage on which we live our lives. This stage, as we call it in this book, presents us with the nature of our cosmos and our place in it, the circumstances within which we will live out our lives, the possibilities of our relationships, the means by which we might fulfill our potentials, the ways in which we can move about in our world—both figuratively and literally.

Today we no longer live on Newton’s stage with its uniform space and time. But we also no longer live in the world of Einstein and Dalí—that world was born a hundred years ago. We live today in a new emerging world being built right now by our Visionary Creatives, a world of webs of interconnected fractal networks computationally generating themselves that we will describe in this book. Visionary Creatives sweep away old worlds as they create new ones, and there is no guarantee we will prefer the new to the old. Today we are not always sure we are happy with our emerging world. Visionary Creativity can be discomforting if not perhaps even dangerous.
Visionary Creatives swim in the culture of their day and manifest in their work the spirit of their age. The things they create—in art, design, science, technology, business—embody that spirit, and at the same time are a little off center for us, somehow not what we anticipated, thus pulling us into the future.

Visionary Creativity dismantles cultures as well as building them, for the old must be swept away before the new can emerge.

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