Paul Coehlo and the creative act

Some time ago I was on the same panel as Paul Coehlo (The Alchemist) on this very question. What is a creative act ? We disagreed. Paul thought that merely being creative does not imply a creative act. He interpreted the creative act as ‘creative work’. All creativity must be translated into creative work. Is that right ?


I argued that the act of creation can be most sublime when it actually has no desire for appreciation. It does not neccesarily need to be translated into a ‘work’ of creativity.
A young boy telling a girl ‘i love you’ from the bottom of his heart is to me an act of great poetry and therefore creativity. Listening intensely to the song of a bird, or the flowing of a brook, or a beautiful sunset is also an act of creativity.
Is it neccesary for us to discipline these creative acts into a form to share with the world at larrge for them to be creative ?
shekhar

17 Responses to “Paul Coehlo and the creative act”

  1. heather says:

    Dear Shekhar
    I agree that your examples are creative acts. A creative work is something different. All creative works are also creative acts. But not all creative acts are creative works. A creative work has — ta-da — more work put into it. The work may be conscious, unconscious, or both. Is a creative act that is not a creative work more valuable than one that is a creative work? Or vice versa? It doesn’t matter, and it’s all relative. Creative works have an imbedded structure which gives them observable persistence in time/space. This makes it more likely that they will be noticed, and perhaps valued, by an audience. An audience is the market-maker. The audience is mutable, and so is the moment. The value of a creative act or a creative work is relative to the moment and the audience’s perception of it in that moment.
    Artists who want to survive on the basis of the value of creative acts must make creative works, for their creative acts to be noticed long enough to have a possible value that will exchange into some form of currency.
    This could even be said to be true for love. Declaring love is a creative act that is not a creative work. But living love day after day is a creative act that is a creative work. The creative work of daily love bonds two people for a persistant period of time, to the point that they feel comfortable about sharing resources of value (such as money), in a synergerized manner that enhances the survival of both.
    love, Heath

  2. kavitha says:

    Creativity is akin to strategy/the intangible.Thoughts, concepts, ideas. Creative work is akin to execution/the tangible. Giving form to content.
    The transformation of thoughts to action, of formlessness to form could be driven by a desire to engender impact of a broader scale and dimension than on oneself — social, economic, political, intellectual, spiritual. And yet be detached from a desire for appreciation.
    Does transformation from the intangible to tangible make creativity or creative work less sublime then?

  3. Swetha says:

    Shekhar, I guess what you are actually trying to say is that the very act of a person recognizing or realizing the existence of some form of art in his/her life, translates into creativity. The more attuned a person’s senses are to himself and his surroundings, the more creative he is… Finding rhythm in the pitter-patter of raindrops, melody in crackling fire all form creative acts, but not to all people in the same way.

  4. Himanshu says:

    Dear Shekhar,
    I once read this beautiful quote ” We live by hope, appreciation and love” so there’s an innate desire for our creative act to be seen and appreciated. The creative mind is in itself like ether, like you say pure consciousness, but only when that creative impulse is translated into something tangible, do we feel some kind of satisfaction and happiness.
    Like you said in the previous post, there is no absolute need to create anything, but we do as it gives us fulfillment. I think God made us like a big family and we have a genuine desire to share our creation with them. However any work of creativity in my opinion is no less valuable whether itís in isolation or appreciated by the masses e.g. some uninhabited breathtaking island in French Polynesia would be as beautiful whether anyone goes there or not, but if it were human it would probably want to be appreciated.
    Regards,
    Himanshu – NYC

  5. Rudra says:

    Excellent Shekhar – you made me proud there ! Do you what spake through you on that panel ? – at least what i think made you spake the way you did ?
    It is your Indian Civilizational Genuis, it is expressed spirituality – for, spirituality is the mother of Passion. HWat stand you took on that panel , was truly a transendental stand.
    I dont know if you realised it or not – but you were mighty close to telling Mr.Coelho the basics of ‘Karma Yoga’.
    If you were around , i would shake your hand till your knuckles ached – you made me happy there :)))))))

  6. Rudra says:

    Excellent Shekhar – you made me proud there ! Do you realise , what spake through you on that panel ? – at least what i think made you spake the way you did ?
    It is your Indian Civilizational Genuis, it is in the expressed Spirituality – for, Spirituality is the mother of Passion. What stand you took on that panel , was truly a transendental stand.
    I dont know if you realised it or not – but you were mighty close to telling Mr.Coelho the basics of ‘Karma Yoga’.
    If you were around , i would shake your hand till your knuckles ached – you made me happy there :)))))))

  7. kedar says:

    Dude…
    if possible could you please tell us more about your dialog with Mr. Coehlo…
    because when he said creative art is creative work, it can mean anything…so what was his explanation to that…
    because Creative art is expressed through creative work…!
    when a boy says ‘i love you’ from the bottom of his heart…he is at work!…
    creativity, creative art and creative work are there different phenomenons…
    creative art has an expression…
    creative work is an action…
    creativity is a state…!…
    what exactly was Mr. Coehlo’s point view?

  8. Bill says:

    Shekhar,
    What you speak of, in the creative act, seems to comprise the first stirrings of creativity. The crucial, key sounds, notes, or gestures like a track laid down before the larger themes are developed: the moment of inspiration. But I agree with you and Himanshu. I do not believe we must press pen to paper, or have the camera rolling, for the creative act or work to exist. Ironically, Himanshu mentions a French Polynisian island. I had a dream once where a vision of islands in the distance on a calm sea turned into a plate of tiny cakes my mother was holding out for me. I have never spoken of this dream to anyone yet the dream remained vivid, intact, having never been exposed to light (like Himanshuís uninhabited, undiscovered, Polynesian island). No, creative acts do not have to be conscious.

  9. GJ says:

    I differ enormously on this. One of the reasons we have so much trash running around our bookstores and in our cinema halls is because there are some people who are so passionate about what they do that they refuse to see the flaws in their products. American Idol is an astounding show in its first two weeks simply because the gap between an individual’s comprehension of his own talent and his passion is amazingly clear to everyone but himself. A creative genius needs passion yes, but it will only translate into a work of creativity if it is paired with serious talent. In itself talent is useless when it remains unchannelised. All of us have stories at home of brilliant minds that we knew were capable of miraculous acts but whose thoughts went to utter waste for an inability to use them well. So apart from creative passion, talent, you need the will to channel too, and a brutal brutal drive for perfection – the ability to rip your own work to shreds if it fails to meet a standard. Then, and only then, is a creative work created. You think Michaelangelo needed you and me to pick the flaws in the Sistine? He would have painted it in a day and certainly not craning his neck all the while if it was so.

  10. Rudra says:

    kedar …while we wait for shekhar to explain himself and coehlo , i think its plain from what shekhar wrote :
    1) its about the definition of ‘creativity’
    2) coehlo thinks creativity is nothing if it does not translate into a creative act – and that act has to be creative work , seen and appreciated by the world.
    2)In other words , Coehlo is utilitarian in outlook – he seems to classify any act as a worthy creative act only if it is expressed and appreciated by an audience. This is a point of view with merit – but limited merit.
    3) Which , i thought Shekhar expanded with what his Indian Civilizational roots gave him – which is taking out the Utilitarian purpose to creativity – the most creative things can just be not shared , may just only be subjectively experienced – does it mean they are not creative?
    I thought Shekhar was brilliant there , whether he realised it or not.

  11. Himanshu says:

    Hi Bill,
    Thanks for your resposnse. I’m sure your dream remained vivid(without any physical manifestation), but I’m also sure that you got some fulfillment by sharing the dream with us. Keep on of the cakes for me.
    Thanks,
    Himanshu

  12. manuscrypts says:

    semantically then, is create and creativity related?

  13. nandini appunni says:

    Yes i do notagree with shekar as every creative expression maynot be “work” as in the present work there are more non creative work which want to be pictorised as the “creative ones”.
    One boy may say the words with deep passion and compassion but it may not be for others.

  14. Manas says:

    I tend to agree with you. I personally think, a boy doesnt even have to actually ‘say’ the words, simply an unwavering eye contact or a soft touch is enough. However I dont agree with your definition of creativity. Creativity is not a simple self-realization of some knowledge (Justified True Belief) but an actualization of the interpretation of that knowledge, which cannot be realized but for work.

  15. paromita says:

    creativity is nothing but a deep realization of a newness that comes from the depth of one,s own realization.to transcend it into work or not,is an individual decision.to create a new thought or a new feeling is creativity.and each man is born with his or her canvass.it might be work,it might be just a feel.

  16. astroshiva says:

    Once a creative work is done the creator of the work tends to portray it to the other people. There are many dimensions to it. The one is to get appreciated, in turn to get fame or riches. The second is to find another soul which shares the same interest in that artwork as that of creator.
    ‘Does your work create the same kind of enthusiasm in the other person?’ is the question which makes the creator promote his work. So there is no harm in it.
    Yes, listening to bird’s chirping or watching the flow of water is undoubtedly very creative. But they are most fundamental as well. And those which are fundamental, are also considered very common.
    The human desire of portraying creativity has helped in the formation of different types of arts. Painting, poetry, dance and cinema are nothing but the interpretations of the same old beauty of the nature. If one enjoys his creativity by listening to the birds the other writes a poem on it and may get a nobel for that. Creativity comes out in different ways. We cant say one is superior to other.

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