Week 1_What is Creativity? by Marie De Austria

Bohm’s discussion in, “On Creativity,” about the subjectivity of the words “order” and “disorder” gave me a whole new perspective on art in general. I have always thought of art as proportional, balanced, and aesthetic despite some things being absolutely abstract. Art, however, seems to go beyond those restrictions to achieve creativity. What better way to explain this than to use an example that is very familiar and very dear to UCLA students – Royce Hall.

During my orientation, my tour guide told us that Royce Hall had “52 imperfections” built into it. Using the word “imperfections” meant that they viewed the idiosyncrasies of Royce Hall as a disorder. But to an incoming freshman like me, who thought the whole campus was breathtaking, Royce was a hall of order – where art, in all its majesty, meets science, with all its usefulness. Structures like these attest to the idea that art and science are interconnected. Bohm also discusses how our fear of making mistakes can limit our creativity. But with Royce Hall, this is not the case. The Allison brothers, the architects who designed the hall, intentionally placed those imperfections in there as if to stare challenge right in its eyes. The courage they had then is still being appreciated today by every student, visitor, professor, who passes by the halls in awe.

These attempts to define many abstract words that we sometimes take for granted are what I found really interesting about Bohm’s article. Take for example the way he tries to define the term “originality.” “Indeed, to define originality would in itself be a contradiction, since whatever action can be defined in this way must evidently henceforth be unoriginal.” Real creativity, then, is such a rare phenomenon that whenever it manifests itself in structures like Royce Hall or philanthropist deeds like what Anne Sullivan had done for Helen Keller, people would just be naturally drawn to it.

As a science major, art seemed to me a foreign subject I could only enjoy from the outside but could never be able to truly participate in. After reading Bohm’s article, however, I realized that I have been participating in the creation of art ever since I was born and learning about my surroundings. It takes the same “perception that is capable of seeing something new and unfamiliar” to discover a masterpiece as well as to find a natural law. Both disciplines are looking for a “totality, or wholeness, constituting a kind of harmony that is felt to be beautiful” in all of their work. Both art and science face the same challenge of creating something out of complete nothing, seeing things no one else has seen, successfully communicating to and educating a blind, deaf, and mute child, composing melodies no one has heard before, discovering the laws that govern nature.

It goes to show that having just one or the other, will limit people and prevent them from experiencing something greater than what either art or science alone can create. When one can create something greater than the sum of its parts – that is what I call creativity.

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