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YMO Arthur Koestler


The act of creation
By Arthur Koestler

The act of creation' begins where this view ceases to be true. Koestler affirms that all creatures have the capacity for creative activity, frequently suppressed by the automatic routines of thought and behaviour that dominate their lives. The study of  psychology has offered little in the way of an explanation of the creative process, and Koestler suggests that we are at our most creative when rational thought is suspended - for example in dreams and trance-like states. Then the mind is capable of receiving inspiration and insight.

Editorial Review - Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.

If we consider Creation as a continuation of Insight and Outlook, as well as of the in-between works, Sleepwalkers, a study of science, and Lotus and Robot, a study of mysticism, we are better able to appreciate the extraordinary ingenuity Koestler has brought to his investigations in particular and his conception as a whole. The first part analyzes creativity proper: the jester or comic ...
More inspiration, the sage or scientific discovery, finally the artist and the arts; all are seen to work through conscious and unconscious processes. The second part extends the same concerns to the evolutionary hierarchy, from the simple fertilized egg to the complexities of the human brain; here the framework is biological buttressed with current developments in experimental psychology. Stated thus one might imagine a heavy-going clinical enterprise entering with the terminology of various disciplines, and to a large degree so it is. But Koestler, a formidable speculative thinker, is also the master of a sharp, sophisticated prose, capable of ranging from the aphoristic to the polemical and his learning, which he sports like a dandy, is well- nigh encyclopaedic. These dazzlements, moreover, are put to use where dry-as-dust palaver is generally the norm. Certainly only a Koestler could contain, and with the same easy elegance, examinations of Skinner, Darwin, Kohler or Jung, as well as references to, say, Mallarme or Gombrich. Further, his fundamental theory, that of bisociation (“I have coined the term ‘bisociation’ in order to make a distinction between the routine skills of thinking on a single ‘plane’, as it were, and the creative act, which, as I shall try to show, always operates on more than one plane.) A transitory disturbance of emotion and thought producing creative manifestations on all levels of the animal kingdom, suggests one of the most startling and significant points of departure from the modernist idea of man as automaton we know of. Thoroughly controversial and thoroughly invigorating. Koestler's most novel work demands and sustains many re-readings.

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