Creativity & Instant Epiphanies

Creativity in all it's forms is a mystery and a wonder. Although making photographs is my primary creative love and passion, in my previous artistic life I was a writer. I was an actor. I've dabble--with varying degrees of success--with music (the apex of which was playing tin whistle in an Irish rock band on the stage of Chicago's Vic Theater for St. Patrick's Day). And I truly feel that my enjoyment of cooking flows from all the creative possibilities that food provides.

I've learned that creativity cannot be pigeon-holed into one discipline or endeavor. It flows through all aspects of our life. It doesn't come to us in tightly defined boxes ("first, I'll be creative in writing, then when that's over, I'll be creative in photography, and when that's completed I'll be creative in cooking"). Instead of vying for our attention, all aspects of our creative life not only play well together, they enhance each other.

Recently, while combing through my hard drive for a particular file, I came across a  biographical piece I wrote for a writing website I used to administer several years ago. As I read it, the hairs on my arms stood on end and my lips curled in a smile. Instant epiphany. My philosophy of writing sounded so familiar. In fact, it sounded nearly identical to my photographer's artist's statement. I realized that my fascination for the overlooked moments in life didn't just start with making pictures of them: I was also very interested in writing about them. There is something so very comforting in this realization from an artist's standpoint: I have a focus, a direction. And it's been there for a long, long time.

I participated in a workshop a while back where we were given an assignment: think about creativity. Specifically, answer these three questions about creativity:

  • In your own words, define creativity.
  • Where does it come from?
  • How does it work?

I found this exercise deceptive in it's simplicity. At first, I figured it would be just some quick answers: a few ham-handed words and done. But the more I mulled over these three questions, the more expansive my answers became. I found that as I wrote, my thoughts came faster and faster, bumping into each other before my sluggish hands could get them out. My answers took on a life of their own. I was in the moment. I was in the "flow." And when I came back to my sense, here's what I had:

In your own words, define creativity.

Creativity is the ability to access the inaccessible portions of our consciousness and to synthesize seemingly unrelated concepts/constructs/ideas into something new and cohesive, causing our new creation to have a meaning which is greater than the sum of it’s parts.

Where does it come from?

Creativity originates in that elusive center of sentience. It comes from one’s awareness of the world (existence) and one’s place within it (individuality). Once this awareness is manifest, creativity is born of the fundamental drive to fashion meaning and order out of the myriad dissociative moments and events that make up that world every day. It springs from the desire to not only shape the world, but also to change it in a unique and meaningful way. It is no wonder that when humans invent myths and religions, one of the most important duties of the deity is that of creation.

How does it work?

Creativity works by allowing us to see in a way that exists outside of reality. If we think about it, being a creative means dancing upon that spider web of a line between sanity and madness. For instance, taken at its very basic nature, inventing stories is tantamount to imagining a world that doesn’t exist...and then saying it does. In some circles, one might be called “crazy” for saying such a thing.

But how do we see in such a way? How does creativity allow us dance upon that web? In all it’s mystery, creativity works by granting us access to the part of our being/essence/mind/spirit (insert your metaphysical construct of choice here) which is normally inaccessible: the part of us that holds the ability to conceive beyond mundane perception.

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So there it is. Your results may vary.

The Official Launch of CarusoPhoto.Info, John Caruso's Photography Blog

Welcome to the official launch of CarusoPhoto.Info, the new home for my photography blog! From the beginning of my blogging experience, I was using Wordpress.com. The blog was found at carusophoto.wordpress.com. Recently, I decided to move my blog to a dedicated web address, and so I chose CarusoPhoto.Info. I feel this will be a perfect companion to my main website, CarusoPhoto.com. Please note that I have kept the old blog active so that any links to specific posts will not be broken. However, I will no longer be posting to that blog. CarusoPhoto.Info is where the action is now.

I will maintain the same blogging philosophy on this new blog. I will still be posting semi-daily photos. I will still have information on upcoming shows, events, and other tid-bits. I will also still make posts on random thoughts and musings.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment in the comments section. Or, to contact me directly, you can send a message to john@carusophoto.com.

For those of you who were RSS subscribers to the old site, please remember to update your feed settings to continue receiving blog updates.

Thanks for visiting. I look forward to seeing you here at CarusoPhoto.Info.

Cheers,

John Caruso

Happy Birthday (258/366 09-17-09)

Today is my birthday, and my wife and friends got me a surprise cake. They were trying to figure out how to lure me down to their office, so they said there was a photo op and, of course, I headed down.

The cake was delish, and they are super swell!

It was a nice surprise because I've been so enmeshed in work of late that I actually forgot about my birthday. How sad is this story: last night, my wife said, "I want to take you out for lunch tomorrow."

I thought that was quite nice of her and said, "wow, thanks. What's the occasion?"

She looked at me for a few beats (I now realize she was waiting for me to laugh or make some comment or other), but I didn't react at all. Finally she said, "for your BIRTHDAY."

I was dumbfounded that I had forgotten.

Oh well. So it goes, eh?

To Do List (105/365 04-15-09)

I felt the day slipping away from me without having made a photo. I started a "To Do" list, when an idea struck me and I was able to cross off an item.