Creativity vs. Imagination: Moon Mansion Diptychs

Moon Mansion Diptychs
Originally uploaded by anselm23

The difference between creativity and imagination has been much on my mind lately.

Imagination appears as the ability to become ‘dreamy’, for lack of a better word, and visualize or ‘see’ things within the mental realm. It’s the capacity to form new ideas, or bring forth ideas based on things not presently or currently seen. Copying someone else’s vision — as I effectively did in these two drawings, largely based on the work of artist Nigel Jackson, from the book by Chris Warnock on the Mansions— is one thing.

But creativity is not really the same thing. I mean, we might think of them as the same thing, but they’re two different capacities. This, to me, is the power to call forth something from the imagination, and make it real or sensible or visible to someone else. I know plenty of imaginative kids, for example, but I know a lot of imaginative kids who aren’t very creative — they’re sort of lost in a fantasy realm where they are capable of dreaming themselves the heads of corporations or the most amazing rock guitarists. But those same kids don’t actually do the work that gets them moving forward toward that dream.

Likewise, I know plenty of creative kids who aren’t very imaginative. They do all sorts of little drawings, and they’re very productive — these kids wouldn’t dream of not doing their homework, because they’re actually eager to ‘create’ something, to bring something into being. But they’re not very good about bringing forth something new or unique to themselves.

There’s of course a third category, which is people who are both imaginative and creative. I wish that I fit consistently into this category, although most of the time I think I’m only one or the other; it takes a lot of time and effort to be both, and some days it’s just very hard to get anywhere near that combination of powers. It requires an incredible amount of practice to build up to the point where one can be both productive, and capable of summoning forth a vision of “things not seen” so that others can also participate in that vision.

So imagination is largely a mental skill, but creativity is largely the skill of taking mental-to-material. Where one is largely a matter of dream or day-dream, the other is a matter of tool use — whether memory or imagination or skill, or the use of actual physical tools, be they knives or drills or scissors or glue or word processors or graphics software programs or t-squares…

And I’m not at all sure that anyone would agree with these definitions, which only makes the problem harder. But I think in general that our culture makes much of imagination, without making an equal fuss over creativity. And yet, without creativity as I’ve defined it here, all the imagination in the world won’t actually get anything done.

Via Flickr:
I’ve noted in the past that paper doesn’t seem to hold a magical charge for very long…. and yet it turns out that you can make quite an interesting power simply by folding the paper in half. A friend of mine is having difficulty with her health, so this evening I made a pair of the Mansions of the Moon for her — Egibiel to drive away the bugs that make her ill, and Amutiel to bring her health. These two mansions are not normally used for matters related to health, particularly not lung-health (which is her particular issue), but she wanted something immediate. This, plus some good cold-care tea, seemed to be a good combination.

It’s worth saying that a Moon Mansion, or any sort of tool like this, is not a useful substitute for actual health care. This only serves the purpose of bringing spiritual forces to bear on a physical problem; but the realms of being are discrete and not continuous. Simply having a pair of angels watching out for your health in no way obviates the need for genuine health care.

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