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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

On Creativity

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” — Genesis 1:26a

Does God look like us? Do we really look like Him? Or does “in our image, after our likeness” mean something different? After all, if God has a head, two arms, two legs, and a torso… well, so do the apes. Some other animals use their front paws as hands from time to time (raccoons, squirrels, etc.). Chimps and even some birds use tools to get food. What really separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom?

It’s not language: bees communicate through dance, chimps through gestures, dogs through body language and scent, not to mention whales and dolphins. But that answer is “getting warmer.”

Maybe it’s more a matter of how we use language. It isn’t just a tool for getting food, or bonding, or marking territory. We do all those things with language, but we also use it to create stories about where we came from, or why we are here, or simply to entertain ourselves and (if we’re lucky) other people. In other words, after God created the universe, the earth, and the ecosystem in it, He populated it with a species that could, in a small way, create worlds of their own! Our creativity isn’t divine in its own right — but it’s an echo of the divine. Call it part-divine.

This I’ve realized for a while now, more came to light as I read Stephen King’s On Writing, specifically when he talked about many writers having a drinking problem, and himself being baked on coke and booze while writing Cujo, to the point that he didn’t remember writing it. That’s when I got the rest of it: I’d always thought that getting a little squiffed was good for the creative part of me… confirmed, so I thought, by how much easier it was to write after a few drinks (or in the middle of a fever, for that matter). It came to me in a flash: the creative part of us is partly divine and thus isn’t affected — either way — by earthly things like self-medication or even sickness. Alcohol and drugs just muzzle that anti-divine part of our minds, that inner nagging spouse or domineering parent, the part that picks at everything, is never satisfied with what we do, and would rather have major surgery without anesthesia than to say “well done.”

And here I’ve done the worst thing to that part of me that can be done: I’ve vivisected the little SOB and laid its pathetic guts out on the stainless steel lab table for everyone to see. Feel free to laugh at it and ridicule it as it squirms under your amused gaze….

Amazingly enough, I’m completely sober tonight. Must be a leftover from yesterday’s virus.


  1. Hi FARfetched.

    Not being a very religious person, I don't think I can answer any of your first questions. But as soon as I read them the first thing that popped into my head was an old song I remembered. Joan Osborne - What If God Was One Of Us.

    I do think we each see and perceive God and divinity differently and in our own way. Some people don't have a creative bone in their body, but they're still able to touch that spark from time to time.

    Is God, creativity and being squiffed connected? I don't know, but I do know you've given me a lot to think about today. Thanks.

  2. Eh, you don't need *me* to give you stuff to think about! But I'm glad you enjoyed it....


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