Creativity: A Venture Into Eternity

Wani Nazir
Wani Nazir (Pulwama, J&K, India)

Creativity is essentially the process of bringing into being. It is a yearning for immortality -an endeavour of breaking free the shackles of finitude and reaching out to the Infinite. This spots the mysterious fountainhead of creative literature and the ultimate source from which it derives its value and strength.

To transgress the ambits of the finite and to touch the hem of the infinite is to usher in the realm of the indescribable, the unsayable and the ineffable, but this is, on the dot, the miracle of creative art. That is to say to express the inexpressible, to describe the indescribable and to dive into the sea of the infinite make art eternal. William Blake and Ghalib translate this truth into poetry in their peculiar way:
"To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower; 
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.” 

"Qatra mein dajla dikhayi na de aur juzu mein kul
Khel ladkoon ka hua, deeda e beena na hua

A creative artist excursions out of the spatio-temporal limits and reaches all and belongs to all without ceasing to exist to his time and space. He cruises his imagination to the universal and the timeless, albeit containing himself within the particular, the historical and the spatio-temporal. A creative artist encounters with the external world- his raw material and moulds it into an organic unity, and transmogrifies chaos into cosmos. In Coleridge's words he "dissolves, diffuses, dissipates in order to recreate.” He encounters the external reality to forge in the smithy of his soul the uncreated conscience of his race. 

At the close of "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man", James Joyce's hero pens down in his diary:
             "Welcome, O life I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of his soul the uncreated conscience of my race."
The phrase "I go to encounter for the millionth time” is really pregnant with profundity and richness. In other words, every encounter is a new experience, and to encounter "the reality of experience” is at the root of all creativity. The task of forging in the smithy of soul is as onerous as the blacksmith's task of bending red hot iron in his smithy to make something of value.

An act of creativity requires so much courage. Why? Because it is as difficult as forging in the smithy of one's soul. Down through the history, creative figures have consistently found themselves at war, in struggle. Degas once wrote, "A painter paints a picture with the same feeling as that with which a criminal commits a crime.” Creativity is a Promethean task and all artists have to get their "livers eaten away by vulture" so certainly that they vow never to express their vision. But during "night their liver grows back again ", and they wake up full of enthusiasm and verve again to strive in the smithy of their soul. Iqbal attests this idea by proclaiming:
"Naqsh hai sab na tamaam Khoon e jigar ke bagair
Nagma hai soda e kham khoon e jigar ke bagair

Again the same melancholy is strained by a Kashmiri bard, Mohiuddin Gowhar, in his collection, Rikhi:
"Shairas asaan chi zakhman zeu Anin."

The creative act is an encounter between two poles, the subjective and the objective, the within and the without. In "Poetry and Experience", Archibald MacLeish uses the most universal terms for the poles -"Being and Non-being" In the same book, he quotes a Chinese poet who has said, "We poets struggle with Non-being to force it to yield Being. We knock upon silence for an answering music.” This means that the Being which the poem is to contain derives from the Non-being, not from the poet; and the music which the poem is to own comes from the Silence. The poet's toil is to clash head-on with the meaninglessness and silence of the world until he forces it to mean, and until he makes the silence answer and the Non-being be. An artist does not run away from the Non-being, but by taking the bull by the horns and wrestling with it, forces it to produce Being. He pursues meaninglessness until he can force it to mean.
The greatness of the art is that it portrays the artist's vision cued off by his encounter with the reality. It is because of this very fact that art is original always, never to be duplicated. W H Auden has remarked: "The poet marries the language and out of this marriage the poem is born.”

An artist has to first destroy the language he uses in order to create an edifice of immortal art. Picasso's comment "Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction" holds water with regard to the act of creativity. Here, destroying the language means to tax the words with meaning which they otherwise don't carry. That is done by breaking and wrenching language. It is because of this act, a single word in a poem may carry a harvest of meaning, or to say plurisignification.

Here I am again reminded of Ghalib who asserts:
"Ganjeena e ma'na ka tilism isse samje
Jo lafz ki Ghalib mere ash'aar mein awei"

By creating new and myriad of meaning, an artist is elevated to the level where he becomes co-equal with God. An artist cannot create like God, and I, too, do believe it, yet has the capacity to change the divine creation with divine help, guidance and grace. In spite of his limitations, he can bring about change in himself and his environs. This is his sphere of creation and freedom.
"Tu shab afreedi, chirag afreedam 
Sifal afreedi, ayyag afreedam 
Bayaban o kohsaar o zaag afreedam 
Khayaban o gulzar o bagh afreedam 
Man anam ki az sang ayeena sazam
Man anam ki az zi har nausheena sazam"