I bought Rollo May's book " The Courage to Create " a year ago or so, and have been studying from it off and on here is what is written on the back cover:
"What if Imagination and Art are not, as many of us might think, the frosting on life but the fountainhead of human experience? What if our logic and science derive from art forms, rather then the other way around ? "
One thing his book has often brought to my mind is the thought: "What if we as Humans never did Create anything New,not a new idea,a new form of building a house, not a new dress,not a new way of teaching/learning,anything New?
I have been wanting to type out a few excerpts from Courage to Create, today did 7/14/2018;
Rollo May's Courage to Create (page 48-54)
The intensity of the creative act should be related to the "encounter obectively",and not released merely by something the artist "takes". Alcohol is a depressant,and possibly nessary in a industrial civilization; but when one needs it regularly to feel free of inhibitions, he or she is misnaming the problem.The issue really is why the inhibitions are there in the first place. The psychological studies of the upsurge of vitality and other efects that occur when such drugs are taken are exceedingly interesting; but one must sharply distinguish this from the intensity that accompanies the encounter itself.
The encounter is not something that occurs merely because we ourselves have subjectively changed; it represents,rather, a real relationship with the objective world.
The important and profound aspect of the Dionysian principle is that of ecstasy. It was in connection with Dionysian revels that Greek drama was developed, a magnificent summit of creativity which achieved a union of form and passion with order and vitality.Ecstasy is the technical term for the process in which this union occurs.
The topic of ecstasy is one to which we should give more active attention in psychology. I use the word, of course, not in its popular and cheapened sense of "hysteria," but in its historical,etymological sense of "ex-stasis"--that is, literally to "stand out from,"to be freed from the usual split between subject and object which is a perpetual dichotomy in most human activity.
Ecstasy is the accurate term for the intensity of consciousness that occurs in the creative act. But it is not to be thought of merely as a Bacchic "letting go"; it involves the total person, with the sub-conscious and unconscious acting in unity with the conscious. It is not ,thus,irrational; it is rather,supra-rational. It brings intellectual,volitional,and emotional functions into play all together.
What I am saying may sound strange in the light of our traditional academic psychology. It should sound strange.
Our traditional psychology has been founded on the dichotomy between subject and object which has been the central characteristic of Western thought for the past four centuries. Ludwig Binswanger calls this dichotomy "the cancer of all psychology and psychiatry up to now."
It is not avoided by behaviorism or operationalism, which would define experience only in objective terms. Nor is it avoided by isolating the creative experience as a purely subjective phenomenon.
Most psychological and other mordern schools of thought still assume this split without being aware of it. We have tended to set reason over against emotions, and have assumed, as an outgrowth of this dichotomy,that we could observe something more accurately if our emotions were not involved--that is to say,we would be least biased if we had no emotional stake at all in the matter at hand. I think this ia an egregious error. There are now data in Rorschach responses,for example,that indicate that people can more accurately observe precisely when they are emotionally involved--that is,reason works better when emotions are present; the person sees sharper and more accurately when their emotions are engaged. Indeed ,we can not see an object unless we have some emotional involvement with it.It may well be reason works best in the state of ecstasy.
The Dionysian and the Apollonian must be related to each other. Dionysian vitality rests on this question: What manner of encounter releases the vitality? What particular relation to landscape or inner vision or idea heightens the consciousness,brings forth the intensity?
4. page 50; " Encounter as interrelating with the World"
Then to page 52 " Nowhere was this encounter demonstrated more vividly then in the famous seventy-fifth anniversary exhibit of Picasso's works,presented in New York in 1957.Broader in temperment than Mondrian,Picasso is a spokesman for his time par excellence.
Even in his early works around 1900,his vast talent was already visible. And in the stark ,realistic paintings of peasants and poor people in the first decade of this century,his passionate relationship to human suffering was shown.You can then see the spiritual temper of each succeeding decade in his work.
In the early 1920's ,for example, we find Picasso painting classical Greek figures,particularly bathers by the sea. An aura of escapism hovers about these pictures in the exhibit. Was not the 1920's the decade after the first World War, in reality a period of escapism in the Western World?
Toward the end of the twenties and in the early thirties,these bathers by the sea become pieces of metal,mechanical,gray-blue curving steel. Beautiful indeed,but impersonal,unhuman. And here one was gripped in the exhibit with a ominous foreboding--the prediction of the
beginning of the time when people were to become impersonal,objectivized,numbers. It was the ominous prediction of the beginning of "man" ,the robot.
Then in 1937 comes the great painting "Guernica" ,with figures torn apart,split from each other,all in stark white,gray,and black.
It was Picasso's pained outrage against the inhumanity of the helpless Spanish town of Guernica by fascist planes in the Spanish Revolution; but it is much more than that. It is the most vivid portrayal imaginable of the atomistic,split-up,fragmentized state of contemporary human beings,and implies the conformism,emptiness,and despair that were to go along with this.
Then in the late thirties and forties, Picasso's portraits become more and more machineLike--people turned literally into metal. Faces become distorted.
It is though persons,individuals,do not exist anymore; their places taken by hideous witches. Pictures now are not named,but numbered.
The bright colors the artist used in his earlier periods and which were so delightful are now largely gone.
In these rooms at the exhibit one feels as though darkness has settled upon the earth at noon. As in the novels of Kafka,one gets a stark and gripping feeling of the modern individual's loss of humanity.
The first time I saw the exhibit, I was so overcome with the foreboding picture of human beings losing their faces,their individuality,their humanity, and the prediction of the robot to come,that I could look no longer and had to hurry out of the room and onto the street again.
To be sure,all the way through Picasso preserves his own sanity by "playing" with paintings and sculptures of animals and children.
But it is clear that the main stream is a portrayal of our modern condition,which has been psychologically portrayed by Riesman,Mumfond,Tillich,and others.
The Whole is an unforgettable portrait of modern man and woman in the process of losing their person and humanity.
maybe the artist is like the hummingbird,the lightning bug,an dragon fly,hovering above ,they can all hover.