Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Random Inspiration and Haphazard Creativity

Lately, for some reason -- maybe you've noticed -- I've had even less of an agenda than usual. No plan whatsoever. Yes, it's come to this. I pretty much just pick up a book on the desk, open it, and see what it inspires and provokes. That's why we've been jumping around from topic to topic. I guess it doesn't bother me if it doesn't bother you.

Speaking of inspiration, here's something: "Creation and inspiration" have "a great deal in common."

How's that? Before we get to Sheed's answer, let's take a guess: if God is primordial Creativity, he is also Inspiration, and all genuine creativity is infused with inspiration. Something inspires us to create, right? Alternatively, imagine creativity with absolutely no inspiration.

Yes, Hollywood.

What actually "inspires" such vapid creativity? (And "vapid creativity" should actually be an oxymoron.) Let us count the ways: Money. Power. Status. Narcissism. Sexual access.

So it seems that there is vertical inspiration and horizontal inspiration, the latter producing only caricatures of true creativity.

Back to Sheed. He writes that "God, operating in nothingness, produced the human race." Then, "operating in human minds and wills, produced scripture."

This implies that the human mind, absent God's inspiration, is a kind of nothing. Which it surely is, and for reasons we touched on a couple of posts back: God or nihilism, O or Ø, with no logically defensible ground in between.

More generally, we can all experience this truth in a most intimate way, for inspiration is one of the things that distinguishes us from the beasts. Animals are not inspired. Rather, they live in the closed circularity of their own genetic programing, or within the boundaries of their form, if you prefer.

But human beings are subject to a ceaseless flow of inspiration that might as well be infinite; or we open out to what infinitely transcends us. I remember Terence McKenna -- not that this is the best illustration, but it will do -- musing on what it could mean that in ten minutes (or whatever) of a psilocybin adventure, one could see more art flash before one's inner eye than the human race has produced in 10,000 years. Where is it coming from, and what could it mean?

One could say the same of dreaming, which is like a endless flow of creativity, only untethered by real world constraints and constants. Looked at this way, we can see how the laws of nature are complementary to creativity, because without them there is no reliable foundation to build upon. Dreaming undisciplined by reality, thy name is liberalism.

Could this be how the snake sneaks into the garden? "[I]nto God's Creation nothingness introduced elements quite notably un-divine; so did all these finite minds and wills into scripture."

This latter implies that, just because scripture contains all we need to know vis-a-vis our own salvation, it doesn't follow that it is entirely free of extra-salvation error. One could say that it contains but does not teach error. There is no doubt this is true, which is why anyone can take his five or ten favorite passages and form his own sect -- even one as un-divine as, say, {insert favorite malevolent charlatan}.

There is the inspiration that assisted in the writing of the individual books of the Bible, but what accounts for their totality, their unity, their organic wholeness? That must be an inspiration of a different order.

Remember, when Paul, for example, was writing his occasional letters to this or that community about this or that theological point, he had no way of knowing that these letters would form part of a higher unity with gospels and other works that hadn't even been written yet.

What individual has sufficient inspiration to truly unify scripture on his own? I don't see how it can be done. Rather, it is the work of centuries and the work of communities; or, one might say that it is ultimately both cause and effect of a unitary and inspired, nonlocal "body of Christ," regardless of whether one identifies this body with the Church as such.

"[W]e do not really know how any writer's mind works or any artist's; we hardly know how our own minds work, still less how God's grace works in them" (Sheed, emphasis mine).

Interestingly, I would suggest, somewhat orthoparadoxically, that we know even less of how our own minds work than we do of how God's grace works in our minds. Again, take a mind completely detached and isolated from God. It is unavoidably a kind of nothing, just an absurd and meaningless space that has opened up in a primate brain.

But a grace-infused mind has a direction, an order, a source, a meaning, a creativity, a vector, a destiny, a "north star."

I can only say that when I was an atheist existentialist, I had none of these, and was a total mystery to myself. True, I'm still a mystery, but at least I participate in a bigger one, so I got that going for me. You would think that abandoning my mind would lead to a kind of chaos, but the opposite has occurred: a higher order. And I'm sure this is a common experience: losing oneself is finding oneself, or dying to the world is living in another, etc.

"If Mark had lived long enough to find his own Gospel listed with the inspired books of the Old Testament, he might well have been startled." Indeed, perhaps he is startled still! And he is startled because only now can he see the extent of the inspiration under which he was creating. The veil is lifted, or he can see the underside of the cosmic area rug, with all its zigzagging connections that create the pattern on top.

I'll just leave off with the following quote:

God abides in the inspired books and can still make new contact with the mind and will of the reader, with the depth of his self. When we read, there is possible communication between the Holy Spirit in us and the Holy Spirit in the writer. And that is the point. --F.J. Sheed

In other words, we find and deepen ourselves in the point between in-spirations that ultimately come from elsewhO.

7 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

You would think that abandoning my mind would lead to a kind of chaos, but the opposite has occurred: a higher order. And I'm sure this is a common experience: losing oneself is finding oneself, or dying to the world is living in another, etc.

Indeed; or how having one's life uprooted in any number of ways is not nearly as traumatic if one's "home" is with God.

3/25/2015 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

In other words, we find and deepen ourselves in the point between in-spirations that ultimately come from elsewhO.

You got some strange attractors going on there. Thanks goodness.

3/25/2015 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

Speaking of strange attractors, just a brief mention the other day of this book got me to read it and I can't word the words it is doing on me.

3/25/2015 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger swiftone said...

Just a wee bit of internet (html I suspect) craziness. When I read your blogposts it is on Feedly, my replacement for an RSS feed that died. So today's post ended strangely. I figured it could be intentional, but came to your site out of curiousity. The RSS feed cut off at the "open brace" (or curly grouping symbol)leaving everything past that DOA.

You said:
This latter implies that, just because scripture contains all we need to know vis-a-vis our own salvation, it doesn't follow that it is entirely free of extra-salvation error. One could say that it contains but does not teach error. There is no doubt this is true, which is why anyone can take his five or ten favorite passages and form his own sect -- even one as un-divine as, say,

So after inserting my own favorite charlatan, I came to check out comments, and found the rest of the blogpost.

Inspiration? Creativity? Yup, linked a lot like white on rice. Note to self. Actual creativity only happens if you get busy and do the work.

3/25/2015 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger swiftone said...

One more so I can receive any follow on comments.

3/25/2015 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Today and yesterday harken back to the individual idiom. The different parts of Scripture and the different voices appeal to each of us where we are. Sounds a little like what happens at Pentecost.

And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. -- Acts 2:6

3/25/2015 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"I can only say that when I was an atheist existentialist, I had none of these, and was a total mystery to myself. True, I'm still a mystery, but at least I participate in a bigger one, so I got that going for me. You would think that abandoning my mind would lead to a kind of chaos, but the opposite has occurred: a higher order. And I'm sure this is a common experience: losing oneself is finding oneself, or dying to the world is living in another, etc."

And who doesn't love a good mystery?

3/26/2015 04:18:00 AM  

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