evolutionary significance of emotions !!

John H. johnhkm at netsprintXXXX.net.au
Thu Mar 9 17:16:16 EST 2000

I misunderstood your intent. Sorry. No, the whining comment was not in
relation to your statement but simply a reflection of me having heard too
many stories of how one can "think one's way out of any situation\feeling".
The irony for me is that I placed myself here, I could have stayed "safe"
but the job simply didn't offer me enough. The first year I left regular
employment I buried myself in reading. It was like a huge catchup that
basically set in train all the interests I am now persuing. My wish is for
that never to change, I feel much more alive. And to think that some people
have asked me if I regretted throwing so much away. Not at all, this is just
too much fun in spite of the difficulties. I did become tired of people
suggesting that I go do this course or that, get trained for that job or
this ... . My natural state is being an intellectual vagabond, so many
people have told me I am "wasting my talents". True, but I'm not going to
waste my life. I'm far happier here than there.

It is not uncommon for creative people of all types to have fallow periods.
The terror in that is wondering if it will ever come back. So if one commits
one's self to a creative endeavour and then cannot even begin one loses
meaning, for creative people usually need to be fully involved in their
creation. I haven't a written a decent page in over 12 months and am
becoming increasingly terrified of the notion that I can't write. That is
depressing. I console myself with the idea that fallow periods often precede
a creative rush. So again completely misunderstanding you before, I can now
see your point that creativity can induce depression. Or more correctly, in
my case at least, the unfulfilled expectation of being creative can induce

There is another sense to that also. Jung: "If a man knows more than others
he becomes lonely." Consistently being drawn to personal and cultural
contradictions is almost a form of madness in that it often means you are
going to start thinking differently from many people around you. The
individual is choosing a course that may involve alienation, though usually
not at the personal level (there are usually enough like minded souls around
somewhere), more in terms of life goals and security. The creative
individual can often appear to be a bundle of contradictions and sometimes
is very impatient with discussions about the "obvious".

Many, perhaps most, people don't like to deal with contradictions. All
cultures attempt to "smooth them over" because human brains and
contradictions just don't get on. It is one of the most puzzling tricks of
consciousness I can think of, this ability to fool itself about itself.
(Know thyself? Ha!)Creative people may not have this defence mechanism so
finely tuned, hence the relationship to psycho pathology and their tendency
to fall into looney ideologies or embrace more esoteric and usually balmy
solutions. I imagine it is also related to social skills, for one is often
far better off to ignore certain things ... .

I found it interesting to note in Anthony Storr's work that gurus emerge
from their creative illness with a new world view, often utilising the old
favourite trick of "special revelation". They conquer these contradictions
by coming to believe in a value set which is "divinely inspired". How much
different is this from the old Wesleyan Salvation Formula: "Fill 'em with
guilt then show 'em the Lord"? Great way to induce a conversion experience.
Absolute confidence, best argument in the world. Nice way to dance over the
truth and down the aisle.

They certainly aren't epistemological perfectionists! I liked your
distinction there, the idea that perfectionism doesn't mean finishing. My
experience is that once I can see the end of a paper or project, I can
suddenly lose interest very quickly, even to the point of it costing me
grades or money. I just stop caring, if only because there is something else
over there ... . It's like my brain says, "Nothing of interest left for us
here. Stop John H. now. Make him read this or think about ... . Okay, if all
else fails, make him feel miserable as hell. We'll teach him who's running
the show." It works. Perhaps creativity involves a change in the power
relationship between two or more mutually antagonistic cognitive "entities"?

In the atavistic Freudian sense I'm narcissistic because I greatly enjoy my
internal world; an endless montage of thoughts rising and falling and
finding each other. It seems to me that if one devotes sufficient time and
energy to create a rich internal world then a lot of the "entertainment"
currently dished out isn't that crash hot; although I still manage to find
extraordinary treasures amongst the dross out there. These days I get bored
when I am forced to address the external world for too long, my internal
world pretty much takes care of itself, I just feed it and wait for the news
reports while doing spot checks to see how the various elements within my
internal world are getting along. That's why I recently moved out into the
middle of 20 tree surrounded acres. To create a ruckus, let me suggest that
this world is far too extraverted! Will someone turn the music down!

For what its worth, I think all of us carry contradictions, and tend to the
view that contradictions are primary motivators in our behaviour. I'm not
sure what makes people happy but I do know that nothing guaranttees it. Is
it always good to be truly happy? Happiness slows me down, it reminds me of:
"A man at peace with the world is an instrument of limited utility. But
frustrate him enough and you can bend that frustration to societies
purposes." (Somewhere in and something like that in , "Parable
of the Tribes" Andrew Schmookler.) Isn't that just a terribly sad way to
think about human behaviour? Unfortunately I broke my brain many years ago
while trying to build a personal use model of this. I find it interesting
though that christian theology does place the individual in self conflict
while eastern systems seek harmony. Who are the aggressors and creators?
Creative people don't need religion to be in self conflict.

Ian Curtis, "Insight"

"I don't care anymore,
I've lost my will to want more,
I don't care anymore,
But I keep my eye on the door."

Creative people have access to many more doors but when fear grips their
courage depression can follow. "If you cannot meet the world you put
yourself in prison." (Dhirmvamsa, Theravada Buddhist Master). Creative
people sometimes confront a much more difficult and threatening world; if
only because they have exercised a greater range of choice. Free will, what
the hell is that good for!  Fear raises cortisol ... hiho hiho, its off to
apoptosis we go.

Thanks for your thoughts,

John H.
Remove 4X

sisial <sisial at email.msn.com> wrote in message
news:uXxV2nZi$GA.253 at cpmsnbbsa05...
> "John H." <johnhkm at netsprintXXXX.net.au> wrote in message
> news:8a72hm$1cbc$1 at news1.wire.net.au...
> > You're assuming I had a choice. What you are providing is good advice
> > you lack the necessary knowledge of my background to fully understand
> I
> > choose this course. Consider the possibility that there is little I can
> > about my social situation. For many years I led a very active social
> > and to this day have many friends here and there, but after so many
> of
> > fighting prejudice (ie, lack of job opportunities because of the way I
> look,
> > some medical conditions which limit my prospects) I have become
> > tired with being denied a fair go. I used to think I had something
> > constructive to offer this society, these days however I'm just flat out
> > surviving. This is not whingeing, it is simply the truth.
> Actually, I am assuming you had no choice. :)
> I hope the whining comment was not due to the term "self-pity". I only
> it in the most literal sense. I needed a term to contrast with
> to carry the differences between an outwardly directed behavior and an
> inwardly directed behavior.
> I'm not really giving advice either; just making commentary. I certainly
> not have all the answers ... yet.
> > Yes I sense these, but please do not presuppose that these criticisms
> > conflicts do not exist.
> I do not understand. Of course they exist. Just as conflicts with our
> environment exists. The primary difference is that in one case the focus
> on internal contradiction, disorder and imbalance and in the other case
> focus is on external contradiction, disorder and imbalance.
> As for an earlier comment of which comes first, I see conflict merely as a
> response between an individual and an environment.
> > I'm far from being a perfectionist also, if anything I'm great at
> > things but lousy at finishing them.
> As a perfectionist I often have difficulty commiting my ideas to final
> However, I also have little patience with detail and analysis. As soon as
> have explored an idea, I am ready to move on to something else. Both
> interfere with my ability to finish things. Being a perfectionist in no
> implies ability to complete tasks.
> > > Further, the strong similarities between the symptoms of depression
> > > behaviors normally observed during the incubation stages of the
> > > process should not be ignored. Many (not all) cases of depression may
> merely
> > > be extremes of the incubation process and may play an important role
> the
> > > development of the individual. (Dabrowski's Theory of Positive
> > > Disintegration suggests something similar).
> > No, I think the creativity that arises out of depression requires more
> than
> > just depression.
> Actually, I was suggesting that, in some cases, depression many arise out
> creative impulses.

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list