"I am different. Let this not upset you," wrote the medieval philosopher Paracelsus. Now if all the creative person needed to do was to maintain his distance and sense of specialness, his work would be easier, but for us the task of distinguishing creativity from psychosis would become impossible. The distinction, however, is implicit in the plea of Paracelsus. He recognizes that there is a difficulty, that he is looking at the world from a special place, that others see things differently. His words are not only a mark of recognition of his own plight, but also of the plight of those around him.And so, how do we create schools in which all children are encouraged to attain special skills and capacities? Can you see that there are risks? Can you see how mentors might help? Earlier in the same text, Dr. Gruber stated: "Developmental movement toward universally shared ideas, the common understanding, diminishes the psychological distance between the child and those around him." That is where the mentor comes in.
To be effective, the artist must be able to step back from the canvas and ask, what have I made? How does this look, not only from my position one paintbrush-length away from the work, but also from other viewing distances? ...
This obligation to move back and forth between radically different perspectives produces a deep tension in every creative life. In the course of ordinary development similar tensions begin to appear. What we mean by such terms as adaptation and adjustment is the resolution of these tensions. But that is not the path of the creative person. He or she must safeguard the distance and the specialness, live with the tension.
Howard E. Gruber
Institute for Cognitive Sludies
Rutgers University, 1980
Saturday, August 21, 2010
The following is from Howard Gruber's Afterward to David Henry Feldman's Beyond Universals in Cognitive Development: