Michael Jackson and Charlie Chaplin
A lot of mythology is spun around the late pop star Michael Jackson, and now the scientists also join in, and they ponder about ‘the specific nature of his creativity.’ I think these findings can be expressed in rather simple language.
The high scoring creative thinker ‘swings’ more, he has more amplitude than the average person. That means he or she swings higher but also lower, embracing more of both their higher and their lower selves, while the average person tends to avoid those extreme positions in their psyche, for fear of being ‘too different.’
Research on genius has shown that highly gifted individuals go through periods of depression and of temporary schizophrenia but they adjust back to normal after these peak experiences which they use for creative expression.
Of course, courage is necessary to go through those trials, be they inner trials, for most of this dynamic is psychic. However, many artists involved in acting, dancing and the show business feel an urge to exteriorize part of this inner process; this may explain why these people, even to a point to trigger public scandal, put their inner processes on stage. When you consider this from a point of view of the acting profession, it makes actually sense. Acting is for the most part just that, the projection of our psychic dynamics outwardly, on the stage, and into the world.
Charlie Chaplin could be cited as another example. He and MJ have in common that they were both involved in similar scandals but ultimately found innocent. We may see in these trials the unending drama of the artist versus the citizen, so well conceptualized in the writings of the German poets Thomas Mann and Hermann Hesse.
You may reframe this concept into the conflict between the creative souls and the non-creative souls. At a certain point in life, and for that matter the life of everybody, we have to decide on which bank of the river we stand, and want to remain! We can’t be on both banks at the same time. Either we stand for the truth of our inner world — our soul values — and go the way of the artist, or we stand for the truth that is shared by the mainstream — the social values — and we go the way of conformity to the commands of the metagroup!
In other words, and on a more down-to-earth level, we all have to take risks so as to realize our unique gifts and talents. Without risk, there is no gain.
This is a universal truth, not just an economic reality. It’s true for creativity, and for love also! If you are too shy to ever address another person, confessing your attraction, you will go unmated and may deplore your lack of initiative.
This courage is not only needed in art or love, but in all spheres of life, and especially in the business world. If you want to make a sale, you need to invite for a sale, you need to address your customer to buy from you, and this most of the time in explicit terms. If you are too shy for doing that, you may not sell anything and need to close your business.
This is the lesson Apollonian thinkers have to learn for they do exactly that: they refuse to go down, thinking that life must be eternal sunshine. Their Peter Pan worldview actually is narcissism because it’s without a shadow; that is why their world is flatland, one-dimensional, boring, same old soup year after year. Socrates said no achievement is possible without following your daimon. Carl Jung said that we need to meet our anima (for males) or animus (for females), the counterplayer, as Joseph Campbell called it. And there is a medieval dictum which expresses this truth in even more explicit terms. It says:
—If your hands want to reach heaven, your feet need to be grounded in hell!
In terms of neuroscience, the creative person has more neural connections, more stimuli are accepted and taken in by the brain. In the important movie What the Bleep Do We Know!? Joe Dispenza said that normally we receive 4.5 billion sensory stimuli every day, but only 2000 are consciously noted by the brain. So the creative person just consciously is aware of more stimuli and more stimuli that hit the brain at the same time.
That is nothing new, by the way. Herbert James Campbell, a British neurologist who published The Pleasure Areas back in 1973, has found that out more than forty years ago. More intelligence simply means more neural connections, and thus more preferred pathways in the brain. And more than 90% of these preferred pathways are laid as early as before the 6th year of life. (And this fact alone speaks for the necessity to revolutionize early child care and education).
All this means one and the same thing. When you display greater amplitude in life, you take more risk, you risk more failure, but you can gain also much more support from others and the world, and you make yourself ready for large-scale success. If you do not want to go that way, no problem, it’s your choice. Just reduce your amplitude back to ‘normal’ and you can continue peacefully, in an existence where you have little chance to be noticed, but where you have more peace of mind.
I do not make a judgment here. Both ways are legitimate. All depends on your choice. In some cases, however, your soul may push you a little out of your way, and urge you to take more risk, and be more daring, for you to achieve higher. That is what Joseph Campbell expressed as ‘the call.’ And here, when that happens and you notice it, you should follow it.