Humanities and Arts: Talent and Creativity Redefines Logic

“Tentacles”- inflatable art exhibit during Beakerhead, festival that fuses engineering, art and technology. Ironically art was used to attract people to learn more on biology of octopus. Calgary, AB 2016. Photo by J.Chong

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.

Caricature drawing of young boy. Harry Potter street festival. Kensington Neighbourhood, Calgary AB 2017. Photo by J.Chong

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.

Calgary Fiddlers, local group of gifted young people perform locally and internationally. East Village Performance, Calgary AB 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Calgary Fiddlers, local group of gifted young musicians also perform internationally. East Village performance, Calgary AB 2016. Photo by J.Chong

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.

Outdoor permanent artwork, The Engagement -2 rings in Stanley Park by seaside. Vancouver BC 2017. Photo by J.Chong

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.

"Girl and Berlin Bus". Painting by Canadian Alex Colville, 1978. In Art Gallery of Ontario 2014 special exhibit. Toronto ON. He originally worked in insurance industry before his paintings became sought after.
“Girl and Berlin Bus”. Painting by Canadian Alex Colville, 1978. In Art Gallery of Ontario special exhibit. Toronto ON 2014.

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.

Barristers' Lounge with stained glass windows reflecting on law and justice --turned into a restaurant. Walls lined with overflow of law library texts still in use. I used to buy scones when working in this courthouse. Osgoode Hall. Ontario Court of Appeal. Toronto, ON 2014. Photo by J.Chong
Barristers’ Lounge with stained glass windows reflecting on law and justice –turned into a restaurant. Walls lined with overflow of law library texts still in use. I used to buy scones when working in this courthouse. Osgoode Hall. Ontario Court of Appeal. Toronto, ON 2014. Photo by J.Chong

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.

Summer dragonfly clings for safety. Vanier Park, Vancouver BC 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Summer dragonfly clings for safety. Vanier Park, Vancouver BC 2016. Photo by J.Chong

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.

Cycling child chooses her direction at bike bridge path intersection. By Bow River, Calgary AB 2017. Photo by J. Becker.

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

Tomi Fujiyama, former country and western singer from Japan in her 70's. Was subject of film, "Made in Japan" on her early passion for this music in early 1960's when she did perform in U.S. Guest at 2015 Calgary International Film Festival. Photo by J. Chong.
Tomi Fujiyama, former country and western singer from Japan in her 70’s. Was subject of film, “Made in Japan” on her early passion for this music in early 1960’s when she did perform in U.S–even at the Grand Ole Oprey in Nashville. Guest at 2015 Calgary International Film Festival. Photo by J. Chong.

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

One of several student learning rms. for theatrical makeup, including special effects masks and fake limbs. MU College of Makeup Art & Design. Toronto ON 2015. Photo by J. Chong. Housed in a former for live comedy series, Second City.
One of several student learning rms. for theatrical makeup, including special effects masks and fake limbs. MU College of Makeup Art & Design. Toronto ON 2015. Photo by J. Chong. Housed in a former venue for live comedy series, Second City.

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.

Outdoor ballet, "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Ballet E'toile. Muse Winery. Vancouver Island, Saanich 2014. Photo by J.Chong
Outdoor ballet, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Ballet E’toile. Muse Winery. Vancouver Island, Saanich 2014. Photo by J.Chong

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.

Spring snowstorm. Multimedia painting 2016. By J.Chong

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?

Casa Batallo. One of Antonio Gaudi's curvy homes inspired by ocean waves, seashell glass colours and water imagery. Barcelona, Spain 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Casa Batallo. One of Antonio Gaudi’s curvy homes inspired by ocean waves, seashell glass colours and water imagery. Barcelona, Spain 2016. Photo by J.Chong

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.

Artist with her batik portrait artwork. Annual Whyte Ave Art Walk festival, featuring several hundred artists. Edmonton, Alberta 2017. Photo by J.Chong.
Transforming centuries old music into contemporary beats. Bagpipe player at Harry Potter street festival. Kensington neighbourhood, Calgary AB 2017. Photo by J.Chong


23 Comments Add yours

  1. As a philosophy major, I approve of this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jean says:

    🙂 🙂 Not saying that engineering and computer science grads are different as people. I just wonder when I hear of parents of teens, talk about wanting their child to become competent in math, etc. Does their child truly have a natural skill for a university major in applied sciences or just to have a good life skill?

    I’ve never taken a philosophy course…yet.


    1. Well my niece graduated with an engineering degree two years ago and was immediately offered a job that pays much more than I make at the top of my career as a middle aged woman. Not that I’d trade places with her—I love my job and my life—but a lot of people think of their potential salary first when pursuing an education.

      You actually have to take a lot of logic in philosophy. 🙂


      1. Jean says:

        Yes, logic plus crafting abstract concepts into practical terms, helps a person shape persuasive arguments. At work, I’m on a team where most other people have computer science degrees. What prevents some of them from being too narrow in perspective, is their life experiences outside of their degrees and work.


  3. MB says:

    I agree! I have an undergrad degree in psychology. If I had it my way–without pressure from family–I would’ve stayed with my first major: art. I love to write. I actually wrote a lot of poetry in high school. It was my outlet. I also love to paint, sew, and do anything arts and crafts.

    Without the world of imagination and arts, the world would be such a boring place. I worry each time there are school cuts for art and music.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Not surprising then, you are blogging when you are inspired.:) For you, the blend of psychology and natural love of writing and art, helps a lot when dealing with people who have different perspectives.

      Imagination cannot be just linear-grown.

      I did sew a large part of my wardrobe before cycling captured me. There is logic to put together pieces of cut fabric well, but some artistry to choose the right colours, fabric texture and style for a person. Couldn’t figure out why for many years, why my mother sewed so technically well with tailored finishes but she would choose safe pastel colours or colours /prints that often didn’t spark the garment. Then I realized that my mother (who only finished high school half way in China) was naturally technically inclined. She seemed to have mathematical affinity to calculate in her head while my father watched her, waiting for the answer. The manifestation of her natural skill shows in some of her children, if she had the educational opportunities.


  4. Mabel Kwong says:

    Very interesting to see where arts has led you. Agree that a lot of the creative realm deals with the imaginary…and quite a lot of us like to be grounded in the material world instead – which is not necessarily a bad thing. Like you, when I started working and writing for the corporate world, I had to cut our academic jargon and write in an everyday fashion, and a lot of the time write in a measured, neutral manner. In a way, that has helped me shaped my writing today, making it come across as more down to earth.

    My blog is my creative outlet, and so is my photography. They are two things that I look forward to when I finish work each day, and two things that speak to me. When I’m doing either on my own, it just feels so right.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Interesting you mention the material world –material world that assures us of stability, visible evidence and rewardable in payment. Material world are also tools for expression. The blogging software platform make our words and images far more accessible for bloggers with computer skills and ability to interact with the audience, by opening up the dialogue doors worldwide. Otherwise, we’ll be still crafting stories and fiddling with our photos that barely see the light of day. What does your family and friends think of your blog? Or they don’t know about it?


      1. Mabel Kwong says:

        My family doesn’t know about my writing, which is what I prefer. A few of my friends are supportive of what I do, which is okay with me as a lot of the time I am not a huge fan of talking about my writing. It’s very personal…and I only talk with it with a few people.


        1. Jean says:

          All my siblings and their families know plus good long term friends. I don’t talk about my writing with them. We have more important things to share than just talk about my writing because I seldom see them. There’s nothing further to talk about and to them, no surprises except maybe certain things they didn’t know about me. Many live thousands of km. away from I, so my blog posts allow me to share things I’ve seen and experienced instead of just posting Facebook or Twitter photos with one-liners.

          Maybe a few decades later, you’ll be comfortable to share: those who love you will want to know the best facets of yourself. The best gifts of yourself.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, you were making wonderful sense right up to the point where you dropped Mark Armstrong’s name– then you lost all credibility!! : )

    Excellent post, Jean, and many thanks for giving me a nod. In an odd way, we took similar journeys: you went with art first, then picked up the (library) science you needed for a job. You’ve maintained a nice balance, however, and as you pointed out, you have to use a lot of creative thinking to do your job.

    I started with science (math), then finally realized that art offered a truer path for me. However, I still use “math” in my work, including both arithmetic (dimensions, ratios, percentages), and the logic needed to analyze graphic problems and structure blog posts. I’ll always believe that having an analytical mind makes me a better writer.

    Loved your Casa Batallo photo, and my favorite line was “Visual arts is just imagination more in your face.” Ha!– yes, some of us arty types can be a little pushy!! : )

    Great post, really enjoyed reading about how you deviated from the family path, and thanks again for your kind mention!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      You are most welcome, Mark. Your switch in paths is so obvious. I agree an analytical mind can help a person write better –as long as they don’t lose a person with too much detail. Hope the mention is reflected in some new pedestrians wandering over to your blog.


  6. It’s wonderful that you sustained your artistic interests after work hours. It’s funny bc stories abound about CEOs and big guys in the money world who, at the height of their success, reach into their soul and come up empty. So many people either falling into depression or switching to a second career that finally means something because they’d deprived themselves of the oxygen of creativity. We at home expose our boy to a wide, wide range of interests and pursuits so he’ll have CHoiCes in adulthood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      I like that: “Oxygen of creativity”.


    2. Jean says:

      You may enjoy this: I believe she did her PhD in philosophy but started off with undergrad in math. She works for an artificial intelligence consulting firm.


  7. lilisar says:

    Great post – no, great blog! Thanks for “luring” me here by liking my post about Stein am Rhein 😉 By the way, having got a son-in-law from British Columbia , I was lucky to visit it – and a small part of Alberta in the Rockies – in 2012. Some day I’ll go and see some more of your great and big country! LG lilisar


    1. Jean says:

      Sometimes living a huge country like Canada makes it tough and ..expensive to see family and other friends. Glad you enjoyed the trip at the time.


  8. Lani says:

    I wish I could remember who said it, but it was along the lines of a developed society is when your children can study philosophy, literature and art, when we’ve evolved from having to major in just those core academic subjects for employment.

    These are definitely tough times to be an artist, but then again, maybe it’s always been tough because it’s such a challenge to be a creative person in a “working world”.

    But like you said, pretty much, it’s all interconnected, it relates to one another, these disciplines that appear to not have any relation at all. I feel this way with science and religion, two polar opposities. I think when we are able to see the bigger picture and marry disciplines and fields that seem unrelated we will be moving in a greater direction of wholeness and deeper understanding of how the world works.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Lani, one sure hopes over time, a lifetime, to see and experience the value and richness of when contrasting disciplines intersect –ethics and medicine, law and science, etc. May we be smart enough to distinguish new human knowledge (not artificial intelligence) and new understanding benefits and helps us understand others who think differently than ourselves. In fact, the open Internet has opened up to others about artistic expression unknown to many. And here, we are blogging, on a shell of computer coding, software.. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sartenada says:

    Lovely thoughts. I loved the photo of Casa Batallo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Except for Gaudi’s church, we didn’t take time to see his other bigger architectural wild wonders.


    1. Jean says:

      Just noticed youir comment. Thx for visiting.


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