Whenever there are cutbacks to classroom time, courses or extracurricular school activities for: the arts, theatre, music, creative writing, I’m concerned.
Arts, Humanities Touches Daily Life: Highest and Mundane Details
Those snickers about people who major in philosophy, history, literature –university / college programs which don’t provide a clear-cut path to an immediate job, I wonder: is it uncontrollable student debt or those same critics believe society needs to be 85% based on science and technology jobs?
Yet look around daily: local architecture, landscaping, music in shopping mall or iPhone, clothes you wear, your furniture, surfing the Internet among words and images –art, design, images and words in your life converge and influence your understanding and senses. Every day.
Non-Linear Versus Linear Thinking- Personal Discoveries
I completed an undergraduate degree in English literature. Opposite of what my father hoped and what my siblings chose – degrees in applied sciences, of whom several have jobs directly related to their degrees.
However even in literature, there is logic applied in the rigour of rhetoric and writing. You must learn how to write persuasively –even if it’s an esoteric thesis on James Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness narrative style in his tour de force novel, Ulysses. Study of literature includes study of human imagination and perception through written expression and styles over centuries with the lens of history and socio-cultural influences.
Purists argue that excellent literary works are timeless because of enduring human triumphs and struggles. Yes. However language and word use, are shaped by human beings. No wonder why 16th century English written works require time to read than the 21st century works. Some people dislike Shakespeare, while others love it.
Study Literature- Diving into Other Perceptions
Study of literature forces you to realize and explore many diverse ways of thinking, perception and expression by a broad range of authors across different geographies. On top of all this, is understanding the world through someone else’s imagination. Visual arts is just imagination more in your face.
Engineering, science and technology are dealing ultimately, with the material world. Real matter and mechanics of living world and objects. Literature is fashioning and interpreting an imaginary world that mimics or suggests human relationships, Nature or space in a narrative or in poetic fragments.
Education in Two Ways of Thinking — Creativity, Logic for Human Understanding
Along with mandatory French course, and elective courses in sociology (gender roles), history (colonial Third World history, Canadian ethnic groups), I later completed my second degree, a Master’s in library science. The latter is a social science. Library information science draws upon empirical evidence and quantitative analysis on information services; systems, and product design. However the discipline requires qualitative understanding of political, social and psychosocial factors on information literacy, human cognition in problem-solving, information seeking, marketing and learning.
Sure, I wanted a job. So after my English degree, I had to quickly shape my brain to think logically a+b = c , or a+b= cx(a+b). You got it? Or for every action, or sequence of “planned” or “engineered” steps in computer software, was a causal result. But unlike pure computer geeks and programmers, I never expected people approach any information system in the same, robotic manner.
Suppression versus Developing Natural Talent: Arts
While transforming my brain for jobs, during the day, I suppressed my natural skills and interest in writing and art.
At work, I dropped my writing standards in sentences and grammar by a ton. Business writing requires brevity, targeted phrases and bullet points. I like the current school of “plain writing” in the working world. It requires clear writing without the academic or executive management baggage of pretension.
However, I didn’t strangle all my art interests. I took occasional evening art courses in calligraphy and painting. With a good friend, I joined her world of baroque music. I read about this music genre, listened to instrumental recordings and subscribed to baroque chamber music concerts for several years. I still love baroque music and share it with my partner.
Fusing Creativity and Logic in My Jobs
At work, I thankfully clued in: my jobs required linear, logical thinking and analysis PLUS quick, creative thinking beyond what the clients knew, to help solve their information problems.
A librarian is not a robot landing on a resource to match a footnote citation –though that happened up to 25% of the time. More often, it’s teasing out of clients what they actually don’t know beyond their first 2 sentences in their vague query. Often they only knew the subject that they are trained or work in their job.
Linear Thinking, Logic Keeps Machinery Running: Doesn’t Solve Mental nor Spiritual Health
I don’t doubt the powerful argument that logic is necessary for running a healthy economy. Logic is the lubricant for supply and demand, reliable schedules to feed, clothe and keep people safe.
However, it’s human beings who introduce folly into the stock market, crashes (economic as well as vehicle tragedies), voter results, corruption or just different life experiences which prompt different needs and attitudes on how to make a better world.
It’s possible a person rolls along their whole life and not know of their natural gifts that lie dormant. Most likely they’ve been blessed with a well-rounded
life of food, shelter, safety, some positive fun and love of family and friends. They’ve been busy with family and job. That’s good –provided they also don’t expect others to share their same worldview, the same easy life journey and approach as theirs, to achieve long-term, positive satisfaction.
Unleashing Positive Creativity: Saving Lives
For every story about a person’s deep depression, crime, perceived major failures or violence, I wonder if some negativity may have been avoided for some people. If a person’s flagging energy and psyche had been redirected to discovery and development of hidden natural talents never revealed as a child or teen, there may have been another rebirth.
I know my natural, lifelong interests and skills in writing, art and even cycling since early teens, are gateways for me to explore the world in sensory, exciting ways where I love to express and explore boundaries. Same lifelong skills also gives me natural stepping stones to learn of other cultures, histories and other viewpoints. Most likely it saves me from becoming stuck and too narrow in my own world view.
Do you have any creative tendencies or outlets? Did you discover it through your lifetime, courses, your job or simply dabbling on personal time? How do you think it has influenced in your development as a person?
More Interesting Reading / Transformations
Read bio for comic illustrator, Mark Armstrong. With a math university degree and also in education, he spent years in numbers and other endeavours. He finally realized his natural gift of comic and graphic illustration.
Made in Japan. Film on Japanese country and western singer, Tomi Fujiyama. Videoclip.
Here’s a knitter with a knitted shawl design, inspired by cathedral structures.
Embroidery artist where her art initially pulled her out of tough times.
Paulson, Michael. Onstage, Rapidly Reacting to the Dawn of the Trump Era. In New York Times. Feb. 5, 2017.
Featured left large photo for this blog, was an outdoor wall mural on side of a café, Beaune, France 2016. Photo by by J.Chong.