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Creative mind the Lowell Institute cooperative broadcasting Council presents Jacob Bronowski creative personality. As a number 11 in the National Association of educational broadcasters series The creative mind produced by WGBH Af-Am in Boston under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. These conversations explore the creative process as it is to the artist and scientist in the 20th century. And here is our host and commentator for the creative mind. Lyman Bryson. Mr. Barnard has no doubt about the answer to one question which has puzzled a good many of the guests on this program and it's a question which has an enormous amount of importance in our general quest and that
is is it possible to locate and describe the basic qualities which mark a creative mind. If you're going to try to increase the development of creativeness if you're going to try to discover all the potential creative people you've got in your population then you've got to be pretty sure you know what you're talking about. It's of particular importance in relation to education which we've touched on in a number of these radio essays. One of our reasons for wanting to talk with artists and scientists about themselves and about their work is we hope to find ways of discovering creative capacity. We want to stop the waste of talent Mr Brown Aski thinks we can. And he thinks we can because the creative impulse the quality of the creative mind is a natural quality is found in some measure of everyone it's the essential principle of life. As a matter of fact to live is to create because to live is to impose patterns on the raw materials of nature. Of course there is an
order than this in nature. Otherwise we couldn't do anything with it. And it's by reason of that order to Nessun the possibilities of order that life can create itself. But this impulse goes further and it creates patterns of ideas of symbols as well as of things. And it's in every one I've written everyone of course it must be frustrated in many people because we don't have a oversupply of creative minds. And if it's frustrated too much in one that has the impulse very strongly. This leads to destruction and to an evil nature. Mr. Brown ASCII warns us about this. Education may not only loses the genius it may create the evil genius if it does the wrong thing but if it can be frustrated it also can be encouraged. That is it can be taught how to master the requisite and appropriate skills and when it does it will find its natural medium of expression. And this medium the expression once discovered. Well help the genuinely
creative person somehow to express not only his own needs the needs of his own passionate nature but also the needs of his time. It may not be quite aware that he is expressing the needs of his time. It's quite possible that some of the creative minds that have done most to further the ideals impulses the progress of the society in which they live have been quite unconscious of doing so. Thinking of course that they were expressing only their own needs. They don't quite know what it is that society expects of them. This isn't surprising because of course most of the operations of the creative mind are in I below the level of consciousness they're not expressing. Mr. Bernard skeet talking with Mr. cavernous doesn't shrink from the question of the problem of definition of creative power. As I said and he doesn't shrink from the difficult question of what the gifted person owes to his society in recompense so to speak for being allowed to develop his gifts he knows that the truth will in the long run if given
a chance prove its right to be no and that every potential power in every human being has a right to be developed creative thinking. Mr. Bernard ski says he's only the highest manifestation of what is common in all of us a part of our general humanity. I wonder if he feels that it is a psychological impulse. I would say yes to that question. Indeed I would go further I would say that there is a physiological need in living matter to create the laws of nature such that nature is running down over time. Things are becoming disorderly all the time and living matter is constantly opposed to this it is constantly trying to create order. Now. The word creation means the creation of order.
Well we can think in those terms that every mind is a greedy of mind guess I hoed that the creative activity is normal to living things starting with trees and plants that they were organize their involvement in such a way they pasta now is meant for them in such a way that they pick out or die from it. Now the human mind is a particularly fine instrument for doing this. But this is first of all the living activity and then the human activity which at some level is common to all. How is it that some of these high level creator's creative mind. Channel list their creative composure in to a single thing go medium whereas others perhaps going to a number of outlets a number of broader goals. How does that come about do you suppose I think that this is
largely an accident when you have a creative mind. You still require a skill which allow you to express this. Now I am quite incapable of creating a sock in Icelandic I don't happen to know Icelandic. You're quite incapable of creating order out of a piece of coal which I can do because you wouldn't happen to have any specialized knowledge about code so I would say that the ability to write creativity in more fields than one is a historical accident which pertains to some people who have had by chance by the nature of their involvement the skills needed in several fields know more about the greening personality. Well take yourself as an example whose exercise of creative activity takes widely varying. Lengths. While I can speak about my own case with.
Some confidence and I would like to show you a simple story about this. About 10 years ago I became interested in a conflict between. The social and the person like to WITI of many people that I knew. I began to work with people particularly just after the war who had. Rather were baited us motives about the societies in which they were and who often complained that they weren't allowed to be the people that they wanted to be and so on. This made me very interested in the protesting personality the person who feels that society is thwarting him and that he could express himself better outside society. And yet this person knows perfectly well that human beings can only live and express themselves inside society. And this conflict exists in all of us all the time. I began
reading a great deal about this I would a lot of anthropology and a lot of psychology history of evolution of movements and so on. And I had it in mind to write a book on the subject and then quite suddenly almost overnight I will notice that this was not at all the way to express what I wanted to say. The way to express what I wanted to say was in a perfectly simple drama about what happened to a man in a concentration camp during the war. And so I wrote a play called The Face of violence. I had been. There three or four years collecting this material none of which was relevant to what I wanted. I wrote the actual play in a little over a week during which I would record right through the day I worked for 24 hours a day I never stopped a total death of white heat. Yes. And I never changed anything anymore. And when the play was finished it said oval things that I had wanted to say about the room and sat on there which never really is mentioned and about the crucifixion and about faces Golden
Bough and about revolutionaries and about people who've been executed in China. And somehow this all expressed itself. Well that seems to me to be a characteristic example of how. In a way. Your mind spends a long time just ing the material and then the act of creation is an act of finding. The right order. Which expresses the whole of this great complex of things the creative act in writing is simply finding a way to say what you already know you're going to thing. Yes except that what you say whether in science on the Arts never exists until it's been said. I said earlier that creation exists in finding unity finding likenesses finding patterns. Remember that. COLU IJ In his many stumbling attempts all of them but even all of them inconclusive to find a definition for beauty
always came back to the same definition. That beauty is. Unity in Variety. Now this to me is the creative process. Nature is chaos. It is full of infinite. And whether your DaVinci. All whether your new or whether your modestly sitting down thinking about acts of the vote there comes a moment when. Many different aspects suddenly crystallize into a single unity. You found the key you found the clue you found the path which we were going not just the material you have found what courage called Unity in vote Heidi that is the moment of creation. Do individuals of high level creative band have an identifiable common personality trait is that you can get one point out people and a line of say these are creators.
Yes I think that you can I think one could devise what psychologists call a battery of tests which showed this in certain forms of pattern recognition if you like you would have to give them of a wide variety because you see some poets really only make patterns by ear and nothing that you could show them would make it clear to you that there was there's was an organizing mind. Other people do the same in music other people with the eye. But all of them have this ability to find a strange audit is the person who is good at making a pun. This is a person who has a creative been to mime and it doesn't matter whether the pencil made a maiden in paint or whether it's color which said The puns are not like those of Shakespeare but tremendous tragic overtones or whether they're just the puns of mathematics the old you know the ability to find a figure in four dimensions which corresponds with one in three like the famous films that Wichman proved about the double six and three dimensional space and
the unexpected alliances it has with you as in how to manage a mathematical pond then yes this is a mathematical. Well I don't found I have. Can they then the creative bent the mind of a person are they rediscovered at an early age to do as opposed to there anyway it can be forced and trained developed. Then I don't know then I don't know what I would say on this subject is this. This mathematical pun I've been speaking about that Wichman discovered. Why do I enjoy it when you see a beautiful combination of chess of the kind that was while the where in the recent championship match with bunched on just love it when you do see it. Why do you take pleasure in it. Why do you appreciate the work of art at all. Not in my view the appreciation of art all mathematics or any creative act is an act of weak creation when the man makes you see the unexpected likeness makes you
feel it to be natural that the slackness exists then you are in your modest way. We create you. We live the act of creation and that is why in my opinion appreciation is not passive. It is next to of the same kind. And if that is true it's an activity which can be trained I think you can be trained to be a better appreciator than you and possibly even the newage not create it any way you can make the most of your nature create good. Is there an opposite degree Asian. Is this drug from the part of the human personality of all of creation. And no I don't believe that. You see it's possible of course to take quite different views from mine. It's possible to a god creation as a rather special process which could express itself in making things all in destroying them. I don't share this view. I say that the opposite of. Creation is
not destruction but simply disorder. The opposite of the created work is simply chaos. And therefore I do not agree that that is a personality. Which has the creative impulse in all of us which wants to destroy it for this reason. The most characteristic expression of that destructive model is to form itself into something like an absolutist horde of some kind. Nazi stormtrooper us communist battalions. Anything which is highly regimented and then to say this is the only thing which gives us freedom to see this absurdity is what the destructive mind really does. It finds freedom in uniformity that of the creative impulse in the Zionist involving the homelands of speak they is the whole personality the whole spirit of the man involved in a scientific creative activity.
That's a phrase such in Christian I suppose you have me. That is it possible to be a really great scientist with the only house you'll mind to knock off at five o'clock and go home and read the papers and go boating and do things which and then start afresh next morning I was thinking in terms of contrasting working with a creative work in the sciences with creative work in the arts and which so vital a part of the creation. In the case of the arts is the expression of personality the complete personality of the artist. I did the same thing hold true in science where I have another way of thinking is involved. I should like to answer this in two parts. As you have now put the question out. There well in two parts. I'm sure that if you're going to. Create that is find patterns and links in the world that this can't be done
by any mechanical process there can't be a part of your mind which sees this which matches the pinks or what have you that the discovery of these likenesses is much more profound. Let me take a random instance I've just been speaking about matching pink. Why's the sunset pink now. No scientist can really answer the question why is the sunset being without involving himself in the whole question about the nature of light in the background of matter and so on and you finish up like the great physicist Tyndall who first found out answer the questions about why the sky was blue in the Suns it was pink and so on. You finish up with a remark that Tindall made. And Tindall said the sky is blue because we live not under the sky but in the sky. And I see when you went into said this when you have this this curious pattern then you realize that he isn't just acting a part of the whole man has been involved in this search for understanding why the long wavelengths come through and the pink and the short wavelengths get on
the blue and why this process of selecting among the wavelengths is part of the structure of the universe. So in that side I would say that the the great scientist and even the good scientist has to be completely involved in his work. If he's going to make any profound discovery because a profound discovery is a profound search for something and this is an Edge of Creation. Now the other part of your question if I'm not being tedious about all the rest. Was all the different you were looking for a difference between the scientific and the artistic process. Now you see I think there's a distinction in the act of creation is I'm sure the same in science as in Oh it's a natural human living act after the beginning and yet of course I mean a poem is obviously not like a theo. How does it differ
when of course the difference in credit another way. It has nothing to do with how it was composed. It defers because it matches human experience in a different way. I spoke about creating what I meant by that. If you take it to the you know take something while it's simpler than which means that I was going to take the great film of I think it was forged by the I was once offered fifty bulls to the Muses for having given him the privilege of discovering this is a film which every child we discover as Einstein tells an old biography about how proud he was at the age of 11 also to be discovered. What do they do. There was we discovered in the same form they experience exactly matches the experience when Einstein proved by thinkers them in his way. And incidentally when I proved as a child in mind I did exactly what I thought it was did. Virtually line by line. In other words we're talking about a part of x experience which is intellectual which can be exactly matched.
Now this in the arts doesn't happen and nobody is going to paint the lady with the stoat exactly like that again. Many people are going to paint pictures with a human being an animal. Many people are going to write plays not exactly like the face of violence but about that kind of thing. Bless my soul after it a sort of way the tipis Rex is like that in a sort of way some of the plays of you know you know but none of them in none of them is it possible for the experience of one individual to match that of another as if it were a blueprint. And you don't read a work of art for this purpose. You we created but you don't recreate the blueprint. It matches your experience in a more. Uncertain way you explore your own expense you live and you live you expand inside this. Now this I think to be the difference in the arts in the sciences. And it lies not in the person of creation but in the nature of the match between the created work and your own act of re creation and appreciating what is the extent of the scientist's response a responsibility to his society as
opposed to science. I think that the man who makes the discovery must make the discovery. Well he's a scientist on heart. There has been a good deal of talk in this country in the few days that I've been here about a novel called lovely. From what I've read of it I don't care for the theme of his No. I wouldn't stop anybody from writing it you understand. Now whether it's about a novel called Lolita. Or whether it's about an atomic bomb you always come into the same thing that the man who does the creation who sees these likenesses often produces works which are rather end of it and which can be used for one purpose or another which can be got as interesting clinical documents or as likely to destroy the faith of children. Now the society has to make some judgment about this. But I don't think that the Creator has to make this judgment. I don't think that either the scientist or the artist should be called for to be a sense on behalf of society when what is the
role of chance discovery of accident in the end they presumably ordered methodical work of the scientist. Oh this is the most crucial question of all is that this is the really delightful question about both science and the arts. You remember the Dr says that he prefers to write in a verse which is wide rather than a verse which is annoyed because he says quite frankly I often had a very happy thought as a result we're looking for right now you might say you know why I just chance. And on this way the answer to that simply is that the mind is removing the mind is looking for connections in the second instance the mind is in a highly charged active way looking for unseen likeness. And it's the highly inquiring mind which at that moment ceases the chants and tells what was an accident into what turns out have been providential. If I might amplify this you see the world is full of people who are always
claiming that they really made the discovery only they missed it. There were many people whose photographic plates had been fogged before went and in fact asked himself why is the plate fucked. In a funny way asking the question being inquisitive enough not to throw the plates away is the nature of things. It was chance that it was the chance that was offered to highly active and inquiring minds in this luminous formative. I can only use the word again in this creative state when it is looking for hidden likenesses. But this is the only part which Chance plays very often you get discoveries by quite methodical way. Often you get them because you see the slat connection the child's connection because of some accident some city thing about a name a way uniting this or that will while spitting some medicine on the page or looking full time. There is one big question that I would like to ask you to
do why not more or less sum up all the things they've said. Can the scientist. Can science that is produce a unifying sort of mythology for the security of the whole world for the security of the people that look to science for its leadership. I'd like to preface to a Mox which repeat what I've been saying one that. Creation is the finding of order in what was disorderly. And this is characteristic of the human activity is characteristically the denial of the Second Law of Thermodynamics which all life depends. I mean that all life is a denial of the second law of evidence. Secondly that the kind of order of which the scientist finds is of course different from that which the man of the arts in the sense that when the work is finished it matches the experience of the individual in a different way.
The scientist finds something which matches in the lecture experience exactly the artist finds something which matches emotion experience only while loosely and organically in which you have as it were to grow and explore you can treat on a koan you know in order to tell you what to do when you're in love with somebody who is not your husband in the way that you can. I think I was annoyed to find out how to mark out the what hangs in the tennis court. Those two things having been said that the creative activity is normal. That its expression is different in the US in the sciences but it's the natural thing in both the arts and the sciences. I think we come to the question that you ask what is how can we cannibalize the very high prestigious The scientist joist so as to make him a creator and not just a technician. Now I don't think that scientists have yet created anything which could be cool or a system of it use. The physical sciences to
try to and the social sciences I think are still in a stage of exploration of matching expenses onset. You might therefore say that ALL WHITE Well you can get the Ten Commandments out of the science. You certainly can't get them out of anything else that science is approved. But what you can get them out of is the activity itself. You see a scientist in order to be any good. In order to be a good create has to work out for himself a set of values by which he's going to live. He has got to be very independent in thought and if you're going to make much of this he has also to give it time and he has to live in a society of other scientists whom he's constantly contradicting. But if you're going to live in such a world you have to be a dissenter and yet you have to be extremely tolerant of the dissent of others.
You have both duration as the fallibility of their achievement and yet do the ANA because it was then achievement. Now I hold that you cannot carry out the activity of science if you do not have. A society organized in this way a society which in dissent. And yet which intolerance and which and. When I think that there are the beginnings of principles which the scientist can teach to the world at large and we could now say that what has really happened is that for the myth of Creation Scientists substitute the myth of creativity it substituted the sense that it's human beings who are peculiarly the creators of cars. Think this is a bit but it's the nature of the myth that those who hold it don't believe it. But certainly science has enabled us to see human life at the place of humanity in a lot of special ways. Human beings are
Creative mind
The creative personality
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features Jacob Bronowski speaking on aspects of the creative personality.
Other Description
This series, hosted by Lyman Bryson, presents radio essays about the creative process for the American artist and scientist in the 20th century.
Broadcast Date
Fine Arts
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Guest: Bronowski, Jacob, 1908-1974
Host: Bryson, Lyman, 1888-1959
Producer: Summerfield, Jack D.
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 58-44-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:15
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Chicago: “Creative mind; The creative personality,” 1964-05-26, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 19, 2022,
MLA: “Creative mind; The creative personality.” 1964-05-26. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 19, 2022. <>.
APA: Creative mind; The creative personality. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from