Thomas Armagost (silly) Thu 29 May 03 06:08
<scribbled by silly Sat 7 Jul 12 17:51>
Gerry Feeney (gerry) Thu 29 May 03 06:31
What? Stay on topic? Sheesh! How mean! ;-) This will probably get me pelted with rotten fruit, but where I most related my personal experience with what Matthew said in the book about the feeling that time is suspened when one is active creatively. Where I felt that most notably was when I was first learning the _art_ of computer programming. (Okay, I can hear the boos.) I was a business student at the University of Southern California (emphasis in Marketing) and never even dreamed of becoming a programmer. In fact, I was afraid of computers until I took the compulstory "Introduction to Data Processing" course in 1978. But somehow, I was lured into tinkering with the computers we had in the Business School, and also the main campus computer center. I started getting caught up in it. I had a couple of hours between classes and I began spending that time in one of the computer centers. And what started happening more and more over time was that I'd end up staying well past the two hours and, in fact, often the next thing I'd know, it would be 10PM and they'd be telling me to get out because they're closing. During those periods, I never felt time passing. I had no sense of time. I would not even think about eating or even going to the restroom. My bladder would be full, but I couldn't tear myself away. I failed some classes as a result, but I ended up, serendipitously becoming a programmer in 1979. I've always approached writing software as art. The most intense and lasting euphoria I've ever felt was after writing a truly "beautiful" piece of software. But I've always a conflict between the economic & business demands and my own desire to create works that I could take personal pride in. Most of the "artisic" aspects of what I did were never appreaciated by anyone but me. A couple of times I've met programmers who'd worked on my stuff and complimented me on how well written my code was, and easy it was to maintain. I took that as very high praise. Looking back on my last 24 years as a programmer, I sometimes think about the social value, and it looks like a mixed bag. Much of what I did made people's lives easier and businesses and organizations more efficient. On the other hand, much of what I wrote eliminated jobs. Is it valid to speak of creativity in value-nuetral terms? No doubt it took creativity to make Agent Orange or nuclear weapons. No doubt the detonation of two nuclear bombs in Japan caused overwhelming "awe and wonder." Matthew does point out that creativity can be used for good or evil, but that distinction is not always so easy to make. Should we be talking about creativity with compassion instead of just creativity?
LoRayne Apo (lorayne-apo) Thu 29 May 03 10:16
Gerry, that is a very nice description of a "flow state". Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discusses flow and its application in "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience". There are many other books on the topic as well, although a number of them focus on the psychology or the mechanics and not the spirit. When you're in that creative groove, it's a nearly transcendent experience; one can pump out enormous volumes of creative work while in flow. Matthew, have you experienced a "flow state", and if so, has it affected your views on creativity?
Rip Van Winkle (keta) Thu 29 May 03 10:21
<gerry>, maybe distinguishing the merit of actions has to do with holding the value of community - that art for community's sake aspect. So many things have multiple consequences, both good and bad, and the long term may be different from the short term. Also, there's the saying, "the line between good and evil runs right through the middle of each human heart." I think that Matthew's assertion of original blessing goes a long way to re-empowering each of us to make connected, celebratory, life-affirming (that is to say, "good") choices, moment-by-moment. Having said that though, I still have a question: If you leave behind the idea of Original Sin, how do you reimagine and revitalize the idea of forgiveness? It seems to me that, while original sin may be a questionable theoretical construct, forgiveness is vital and fundamental. This has been a tellingly frustrating conversation - almost a Babel - that in some ways seems to mirror the situation in the world at large. What is interesting about it is that each day, "in the moment," I find myself rolling my eyes, shaking my head, angered, confused, alienated, detached. But when I go back and read through the complete record, there is quite a lot there, and it has a grand sweep and power. So that leads me to a second question: Right now, in the world, everything seems so dire and urgent. How does one cultivate equanimity and creative engagement from the top of Bable - no, not even from the top, from some obscure side, partway down, and the sky is falling, and people are shouting and gesturing, and, and...? Awe and wonder, creation stories, yes, but the sky is falling and my neighbor is shouting at me... Then, my final question has to do with the Via Positiva and Via Negativa. You say that they are premoral, that it is when you get to creativity and transformation that you get to morality. But, in my experience, if you don't BEGIN with a creative, transformative instinct, you can hold both the positive and negative at bay for almost ever. True, sometimes a real delight, joy, awe, or suffering can hit you over the head and just break through. But letting-go, that is a real creative act. There is so much to despair about, to grieve about; I recognize the creative transformation that would be available if I opened to that despair, but I JUST DON'T WANT TO DO IT. And neither do many, it seems. There is the Melville story, Bartlby the Scrivener, in which Bartleby is in the grips of a mysterious alienation. "I prefer not to," is his response to everything. His employer has a complimentary smug detachment, and neither of them is ever able to break through to genuine joy, or despair, creativity or transformation. Were Bartlby and his employer trying too hard to do it on their own? Am I? Refusing to allow the grace of letting-go to enter in? Yes, the denial of our powers is a major issue. What is the root of it? What do we do (or stop doing?) about it?
David Gans (tnf) Thu 29 May 03 10:56
Great post, Gerry!
Matthew Fox (matthew-fox) Thu 29 May 03 11:42
Dear Maya: I couldn't agree more that our discussion on Creativity and the Spirit working through creativity has been hijacked by issues of dogma and papal infallibility and RELIGION (as distinct from spirituality). I'm glad you drew our attention to that and I'm also glad that the retelling of old stories that I attempt in the book holds some meaning and energy for you. Including maybe the issue of our "original wound" (Rank)? Matthew
Matthew Fox (matthew-fox) Thu 29 May 03 11:44
#140 I might add that Leonardo Boff, the Brazilian theologian, points out that the church is not a box that one is in or out of. It is a community we are called to birth, "ecclesiogenesis" he calls it. This would seem to have something to do with creativity, our basic subject, AND the "coming of the spirit" which is the spirit of creativity....And with attention to the 'anawim,' or the oppressed ones which includes sexual minorities....Matthew
Matthew Fox (matthew-fox) Thu 29 May 03 11:46
#141 Yes! Something about the "moral imagination" of the prophetic spirit that will not yield easily. I see it as a combination of love (mysticism) and defense of the beloved (prophecy). This makes for strong resistance....
Rik Elswit (rik) Thu 29 May 03 12:38
I'm interested in the "original wound" concept. It acknowleges that aspect of life where it just feels like something is always out. What the Buddha called "dukkha", or as Gilda Radner used to say as Roseanne Rosannadana. "It's always something!" To call it "original sin" seems to me like blaming the victim. I didn't eat any apple. I just showed up and life, for all the sweetness I can wring out of it, is still always a bit out of plumb.
Gerry Feeney (gerry) Thu 29 May 03 13:14
I never knew what to call that feeling, but it reminds me of something Lao Tzu wrote: "Great perfection seems chipped."
Your Humble Serpent (maya) Thu 29 May 03 14:40
That's lovely, <gerry>. Matthew, I have to agree with <keta>'s assessment of this "interview". It wasn't quite what I hoped for but certainly not without merit. I had all these snippets from _Creativity_ that I wanted to discuss, but, now we're out of time. Thank you so much for taking the time to come and visit with us; I sincerely appreciate it. I wish you well in all your endeavors.
Barrett Brassfield (sunhillow) Thu 29 May 03 15:38
That's a great post <159> Rik. Thank you for taking the time to be with us Matthew. I like very much the distinction you draw between religion and spirituality.
Gerry Feeney (gerry) Thu 29 May 03 15:47
Well, even though this will no longer be the "featured" topic, there's nothing to prevent this discussion from continuing indefinitely. I hope it will continue. Matthew, I hope you will come back and engage with us further, whenever your busy schedule permits. Once you get to know us, you'll like us, motley bunch that we are. ;-)
Thomas Armagost (silly) Fri 30 May 03 06:30
<scribbled by silly Sat 7 Jul 12 17:51>
Rik Elswit (rik) Fri 30 May 03 08:10
I'm sure Matthew will be pleased that you have no problem with whatever it is you have no problem with. I'm also fairly certain that he gave a bit of thought to becoming a priest in the Episcopal Church before he did so. If you read a bit of his writing, you'll find his thinking to be clear, consistent, and deep. "That's not what the scripture says." You'll also find that he's not a fundamentalist.
Your Humble Serpent (maya) Fri 30 May 03 11:49
One final note to sum up my own thinking on this matter. The persistent critique I have heard with regard to Creation Spirituality or the revival of gnostic texts like the Gospel of Thomas, or the need for queerfolk like myself to reach some kind of reconciliation with organized Christianity, is that if we want to change Christianity so much and shift it from what its consensual and established profile is, then why don't we go start our own religion, because whatever hodgepodge we're concocting is not Christianity. I've given a lot of thought to that and I have decided for myself that the critique is valid and for the first time in my life I can say, no, I am not a Christian and, no, I don't *want* to be a Christian. But I love the teachings of Jesus and the wealth of stories that come from the Christian tradition. And I can honor what Jesus taught: "Render unto Ceasar...." The Christians have their's. I walk away with mine. And walk into a world that is equally creative if not distinctively so. This morning, on my way to work, I passed the flea market held each Friday in the United Nations plaza, and was arrested by the sound of tinkling wind chimes. I love the sound of chimes and investigated the source and found a man 600 miles from home, a sculptor/welder who has converted silver utensils and sugar bowls into windchimes. I bought three of them and he was so pleased because I was his first customer. Two are gifts and a third is for my dreamgarden; a turn-of-the-century silver on white metal sugar bowl with art deco utensils flattened out to amplify their sound. So what do you think, the vendor asks me, do you think they will sell? Oh yes, I said, because they are whimsical and imaginative and creative. And there was the word. Creative. So I returned to the Court where I work and showed my treasures to people in the Clerk's office and in my chambers and several of them rushed off to the flea market themselves, returning with their own purchases, all sharing them, all of us delighting in the uniqueness of each piece, but, above all, in this artist's creativity. The joy he has given us in his creativity is palpable, it informs and inspires us, and as with all great art and craftsmanship, reminds us not only of sources of creativity but the many many venues by which the energy can travel.
Rik Elswit (rik) Fri 30 May 03 15:08
We've just gotten email from Matthew's assistant that he's been buried under work and will be posting closing comments on Tuesday instead of today. If you have anything else you'd like to ask about, now would be a good time to do it.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 30 May 03 17:17
> even though this will no longer be the "featured" topic, there's > nothing to prevent this discussion from continuing indefinitely ... That's quite true, Gerry. Matthew is welcome to continue here, as are all the other participants in this conversation, for as long as you want. The topic will remain open, not frozen, so please feel free to carry on. Thank you, Matthew, for your time and your thoughtful responses. I do hope you'll feel free to drop in again when you find a free moment. This has been an amazing exploration and I know there are many of us who would love to see it continue.
Teleologically dyslexic (ceder) Fri 30 May 03 17:49
Thank you, Mr. Fox for your envisioning responses and for your books. Clare Eder
the newly locked-down Table Talk (silly) Fri 30 May 03 23:08
And thanks to <gerry> for <152> and <maya> for <166>.
Laura Erickson (laurabird) Sat 31 May 03 10:09
Yes, Matthew, thank you for your wonderful book, which has inspired me to read more of your body of work, and to explore the underpinnings of my own creativity.
Matthew Fox (matthew-fox) Tue 3 Jun 03 16:31
I'm pleased the conversation fed you all--and myself too! Thank you, Matthew
Rik Elswit (rik) Wed 4 Jun 03 10:38
Thank you, Matthew. This has been fascinating. The topic is officially closed, but still open for posting if anyone else has anything in them burning to get out.
(fom) Mon 28 Jul 03 01:57
I don't understand the "officially closed" part -- it's not closed at all, and some inkwell topics live for years. Also, someone said (way back near the beginning) that they wished Matthew could visit/read some other conferences -- well, he can. Why not? Inkwell guests are full-fledged (albeit Engaged-using) Well members, aren't they?
&manbeast.hooved (satyr) Mon 28 Jul 03 08:19
No longer featured might be more precise. Inkwell interview topics typically have a two-week run during which they're featured on the conference's homepage http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/ but, as you've observed, they can remain open as topics long after that. Inkwell guests who aren't already Well members are set up with temporary accounts, longer than two weeks, but less than a full year, which they can opt to keep if they care to, and, yes, those accounts are full-function for as long as they last and enable them to explore as much of the Well as anyone else with an Essential Account.
Members: Enter the conference to participate