Our impulse to Create Could be Primal….
I‘m a great one for Podcasts, and I stumbled upon a really dynamic and creative one some months ago: Radiolab, a show, as they put it,’ about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience’. It’s run as part of New York’s public radio network. There was a brilliant one this week about an american biologist called Anne Adams who relatively out of the blue gave up her job to become a full time artist. This is nothing out of the ordinary per se but gradually Anne became ill with progressive aphasia which meant that she became increasingly cognitively impaired. However despite her gradual decline she kept painting, her mind becoming more fixed on patterns and repetitions. Along the way she became completely obssessed with Ravel’s Bolero and created an amazing picture by giving each note of it an individual colour. This is what she came up with….
As her husband dug into the life of Ravel more he discovered some most unusual connections and parallels between Anne Adams and the life of Ravel, who, it appears suffered a similar fate. Anne passed away in 2007 …Here’s a shortcut to the radio programme itself. It’s really fascinating and gripping and broadcast.
Interestingly, as Anne declined, even when she lost the ability to physically paint, her deep inclination to paint stayed with her, and her husband would often find her staring at an empty canvas in her studio. Some of the scientists that the show talked to drew some conclusions from this: that although our fore-brain is needed to create, the actual fundamental impulse to create is primal, part of our reptilian brain. Anne’s instinct, her need to paint, went beyond her illness and decline.
Apparently, a lot of other people with this illness all have this incredible productivity, compulsion and need to focus on repetitions. The repetitions become a way for them to self-comfort.
Enjoy! I’ve also added the link to the Radiolab website to the Links section should you want to explore….