The Act of Creation

The Act of Creation



The Pequod Review:

Arthur Koestler's The Act of Creation is an intelligent and original book on creativity. Obviously Koestler is best known for his concepts of bisociation and the combinatorial nature of creativity, but I especially liked his image of a triptych (here is a useful diagram) in which three domains of creativity (humor, discovery and art) often shade into one another.

Each horizontal line across the triptych stands for a pattern of creative activity which is represented on all three panels; for instance: comic comparison—objective analogy—poetic image. The first is intended to make us laugh; the second to make us understand; the third to make us marvel…I shall try to show that all patterns of creative activity are trivalent: they can enter the service of humor, discovery, or art…The panels on the diagram meet in curves to indicate that there are no clear dividing lines between them.

This would be a big influence on George Carlin:

The jester makes jokes, he’s funny, he makes fun, he ridicules. But if his ridicules are based on sound ideas and thinking, then he can proceed to the second panel, which is the thinker—he called it the philosopher. The jester becomes the philosopher, and if he does these things with dazzling language that we marvel at, then he becomes a poet too. Then the jester can be a thinking jester who thinks poetically.