inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #151 of 188: Thomas Armagost (silly) Thu 29 May 03 06:08
    <scribbled by silly Sat 7 Jul 12 17:51>
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #152 of 188: 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
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #153 of 188: 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

Matthew, have you experienced a "flow state", and if so, has it
affected your views on creativity?
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #154 of 188: 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?
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #155 of 188: David Gans (tnf) Thu 29 May 03 10:56

Great post, Gerry!
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #156 of 188: 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)?
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #157 of 188: Matthew Fox (matthew-fox) Thu 29 May 03 11:44
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 
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #158 of 188: Matthew Fox (matthew-fox) Thu 29 May 03 11:46
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.... 
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #159 of 188: 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.
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #160 of 188: 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."
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #161 of 188: 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.
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #162 of 188: 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. 
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #163 of 188: 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.    ;-)
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #164 of 188: Thomas Armagost (silly) Fri 30 May 03 06:30
    <scribbled by silly Sat 7 Jul 12 17:51>
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #165 of 188: 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.
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #166 of 188: 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.

inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #167 of 188: 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.
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #168 of 188: 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.
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #169 of 188: Teleologically dyslexic (ceder) Fri 30 May 03 17:49
Thank you, Mr. Fox for your envisioning responses and for your books.

Clare Eder
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #170 of 188: the newly locked-down Table Talk (silly) Fri 30 May 03 23:08
And thanks to <gerry> for <152> and <maya> for <166>.
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #171 of 188: 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.  
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #172 of 188: Matthew Fox (matthew-fox) Tue 3 Jun 03 16:31
I'm pleased the conversation fed you all--and myself too!  Thank you,
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #173 of 188: 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.
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #174 of 188: (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?
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #175 of 188: &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 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.


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