Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity as Seen Through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi
Howard E. Gardner
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Howard Gardner changed the way we think about intelligence. In his classic work Frames of Mind, he undermined the common notion that intelligence is a single capacity that every human being possesses to a greater or lesser extent. Now building on the framework he developed for understanding intelligence, Gardner gives us a path breaking view of creativity, along with riveting portraits of seven figures who each reinvented an area of human endeavor. Using as a point of departure his concept of seven “intelligences,” ranging from musical intelligence to the intelligence involved in understanding oneself, Gardner examines seven extraordinary individuals—Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, T.S. Eliot, Martha Graham, and Mahatma Gandhi—each an outstanding exemplar of one kind of intelligence. Understanding the nature of their disparate creative breakthroughs not only sheds light on their achievements but also helps to elucidate the “modern era”—the times that formed these creators and which they in turn helped to define. While focusing on the moment of each creator’s most significant breakthrough, Gardner discovers patterns crucial to our understanding of the creative process. Not surprisingly, Gardner believes that a single variety of creativity is a myth. But he supplies evidence that certain personality configurations and needs characterize creative individuals in our time, and that numerous commonalities color the ways in which ideas are conceived, articulated, and disseminated to the public. He notes, for example, that it almost invariably takes ten years to make the initial creative breakthrough and another ten years for subsequent breakthroughs. Creative people feature unusual combinations of intelligence and personality, and Gardner delineates the indispensable role of the circumstances in which an individual works and the crucial reactions of the surrounding group of informed peers. He finds that an essential element of the creative process is the support of caring individuals who believe in the revolutionary ideas of the creators. And he documents the fact that extraordinary creativity almost always carries with it extraordinary costs in human terms.
who styled himself in catholic, classical, and monarchic terms. Eliot befriended a number of young Frenchmen, most notably the future novelist Alain-Fournier (Henri-Alban Fournier) and a medical student-cum-writer named Jean Verdenal, with whom Eliot became personally close and whose death in the First World War proved singularly traumatic for Eliot. Eliot seems to have been no happier as a visitor living in Paris than he had been as a student in Boston; again he was struck by the contrast
few contemporaries such as Mary Wigman in Germany or Doris Humphrey in the United States. Each had her promoters as well as her followers; perhaps Graham had followers in part because of her tireless self-promotion. Moreover, because Graham’s appeal lay so significantly in her person, she may have loomed larger as a figure during her life than she will in the next century; others were more determined choreographers, and only photographs can even begin to convey how Graham appeared in her prime.
would die for you. The moment you left, you were gone.” De Mille adds more brutally that “whenever she was done with an idea or a person, she cut that idea or person off.” And she did not mind controversy: “I want people to think. I welcome the arguments that follow my concerns, for if people don’t discuss my dance work, why then I shall have failed in what I set out to do.” A Peripatetic Pattern of Life Armed with her techniques, her students, and her philosophy, Martha Graham established a
doing so when he was constantly unable to turn a profit. Throughout her career, Graham had depended on individual philanthropists to aid her efforts, dating from the time of Frances Steloff’s support of her initial concert, to Martha Hill’s presiding over the summer dance workshops, to generous sustenance from patrons like Bethsabee de Rothschild and Lila Acheson Wallace. In late life, the designer Halston, who outfitted Graham in dashing style, had been particularly generous. But as deficits
intuitions of problems and possibilities toward the full-blown embracing of a relativistic perspective. Hendrik A. Lorentz, the preeminent Dutch physicist of the day, showed that Maxwell’s equations remain invariant if they are conceptualized mathematically by what have come to be called Lorentz equations: that is, the same equations applied when making a transition from a vehicle at rest in the ether to one moving uniformly relative to it. The transformations allow one to find the space and time