Creativity as Car Accidents

This is a half-baked idea. I still wanted to put it out there but it is not a complete thought. By all means you can skip this essay.

I am currently reading Mikhail Csikszentmihalyi’s book Creativity and so far it has been a phenomenal read. This essay is not a review of the book but a note on how Csikszentmihalyi describes creativity in one of the chapters of the book. At one point, Csikszentmihalyi argues that assessing creativity is like assessing a car accident.

“There are some traits that make one more likely to be in a car accident. For example, being a young male. However, we cannot explain car accidents on the basis of the driver’s characteristics alone. There are too many other variables involved: the condition of the road, the other drive, the type of traffic, the weather, and so on. Accidents, like creativity, are properties of systems rather than individuals” (p. 45).

The author highlights the fact that creativity occurs when a person interacts with a domain and field to generate something new that’s adopted by a broader group of people. More importantly, this quote tries to highlight the fact that creativity cannot be attributed to one single factor or even a set of characteristics of one individual. Instead, creativity occurs as a byproduct of different elements of a system interacting together.