This will be an exercise in Aeolitalk. The idea of Aeolitalk is to build up an abstract system of ideas from simplified definitions which act as functional building blocks. For a non-woo example, see this post on abstract algebra. My preference is to avoid neologisms and instead assign technical definitions to ordinary words, where the new definitions retain the common element in most usages of the word. For example, I define instinct as “a biologically inherited, subconscious concept image”. Most cats have an instinct which interprets visual data of small, cylindrical objects as something predatory (probably snakes).
Aeolitalk is speculation, but qualitatively more sensible than some of my other speculative stuff. Now then, on to the topic of the post.
Creativity is the process of generating and distributing a novel meme, a “self-replicating mental model” if I may paraphrase Richard Dawkins a bit liberally. Over the course of a person’s life, they collect many loose, seemingly disconnected anecdotes. Their brains will try to categorize these into data by association of their common and discriminating qualities. An interpretation is a generalized explanation of this data which attempts to predict most or all of the data without recounting all of the individual instances. For example, “People are less happy when it’s raining” or “Black men enjoy rap music”. If I conceive of the latter then I don’t have to remember that Lamar, particularly, likes rap.
The trouble with interpreting data is the frame problem: there are infinite possible interpretations for explaining any set of anecdotes, with varying levels of overall accuracy and fine-level precision. I’ll refer to any simple, good or best-fit interpretation as a concept image. The process of forming an idiosyncratic concept image will be called insight, the product of which is an intuition: the subconscious ability to predict behavior.
If this intuitive grasp of behavior rises to the level of conscious awareness, so that it can be communicated to others in words and abstractions, then it is a mental model. The communication of mental models is called teaching, instruction, etc. Concept images can’t be communicated verbally, but they can be expressed aesthetically through art, communicated subconsciously through Framing, or transmitted mechanically through deliberate practice with the abstract mental model. If the mental model has utility, is intrinsically pleasing, or is otherwise viable and is popular enough to self-replicate at a replacement level, then it’s a meme and the originator is creative. Transmitting either the concept image or the mental model will generally suffice to replicate the other. A person who is addicted to the creative process is a genius.
A set of salient memes is called wisdom, where salience means the emotional importance (the weightiness) assigned to a particular factor when performing judgments. Sex, pain, music, purpose, and virtue are salient to all humans, whereas math, fashion, entomology, authority, and crazy blogs are only salient to some. The communication of wisdom is profundity. Profound expression is the poet’s profession. For example, here’s a haiku I done did.
What is life? We are
Rose petals rotting with the
Corruption of death.
This is an expression of pagan Stoicism, as inspired by the pagan aesthetic in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Stoicism is a weighty idea. Artistic representation may be profound without being creative, as in this example, because I didn’t come up with the idea of Stoicism and merely expressed it.
The originator of a meme need not be the first person to create and the meme need not be profound for the originator to be called “creative”. The only requirement is that the meme arises from an internal process of recombination rather than being received from someone else. A person who independently creates a meme can be described as a co-creator. The tendency to rediscover commonsensical solutions to common, non-profound problems without being taught will be called trait sensibility, which can be thought of as a sort of everyday, quotidian creativity.
Please let me know if any of my abstractions are leaking or if you can think of a more perspicacious label for any of these concepts.