Creativity brought on by Adversity


This week on my “spring break” I am reading Oliver Sacks’ An Anthropologist on Mars. In the introduction he refers to the inevitable creative ways in which people who cope with disease or development disorders learn to not only exist in the world but thrive.

Thus while one may be horrified by the ravages of developmental disorder or disease, one may sometimes see them as creative too – for if they destroy particular paths, particular ways of doing things, they may force on it an unexpected growth or evolution. This other side of development or disease is something I see, potentially, in almost every patient; and it is this, here, which I am especially concerned to describe.

This comment made me ruminate on creativity and creation and its many facets. Of course Sacks writes about extreme cases of creativity overcoming adversity but even on a small scale if you don’t have the necessary resources to produce something as you would ideally like it to be produced (in my case a film or theatre project) you find ways to work around those limitations and often create something that is better than it would have been had all of those resources been available to you. Does that mean not having those resources (or being struck with that disease) is ideal? Of course not. It’s always easier to create (or exist) without being stifled by limitations – but sometimes easier doesn’t produce the best results.

– Jennifer Dean

One comment

  1. Alexia Raynal

    I think having certain rules or limitations is often fun. And I agree that the adversity you and Snacks write about can produce projects that are more creative than those with unlimited resources. Tim Burton’s earlier films (e.g. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure) comes to mind. His first movies, because they were limited, seem more truthful, more essential. Burton seemed to focus a whole lot more on the plot and meaning of things rather than relying on fancy special effects for everything. Thanks for sharing!


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