Chaos and Creativity

Does one require the other?

“You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star” – Nietzsche

Oh Nietzshe, why? WHY?? I was thinking yesterday about why some of the world’s most creative people have issues like severe depression, bipolar disorder, etc. But maybe that’s the wrong question to ask. Maybe the question is, how do you harness the creative energy of these brain patterns without hurting the person?

Along that same vein and much easier for a layperson like me to contemplate, is it possible to be creative in pretty, nice, comfortable surroundings with super supportive people and lots of white boards?

Welcome to most “innovation” offices. I love our new space downtown, but I’m a little nervous that all the creativity that went into building it out might sap the creativity that could be built inside. I wonder why I would be so insane as to oppose having such an amazing looking office? After all, the new furniture is definitely nicer on the eye than the second hand Ikea stuff I found on Craigslist when we started the company (I kept my old glass desk, rescued from a bankruptcy sale, in defiance).

The fact is, I don’t feel terribly comfortable creating in the new space. It could be because it’s new. I think it’s because I need a little chaos. I miss the Tech Church’s creepy basements labeled Crisis Room 1 & 2. I even miss finding random people moving in and living there for weeks before we figured out.

However, why would one create chaos on purpose and would it be controllable? Let’s go back to the creativity and depression link. If Van Gogh had found true happiness, would we have his amazing art? None of the plentiful studies have proven which is the cause and which is the effect. Does depression lead to creativity, or creativity lead to depression? Since there are no conclusive answers, we can just concentrate on the potential ability of harnessing the energy used to create.

In depression, the focus is very much inward. Similarly, true creativity comes from deep places within. How can one explore the dark recesses without doing damage to their physical selves?

Sorry if you read this far hoping I’d have an answer. I have my bouts of depression that I’m only starting to recognize. I’ve learned that I’m a master at hiding from myself and others. I don’t cry. I don’t allow myself to dwell on anything that could be considered selfish thoughts. Funny, I also never considered myself creative. It’s only been the past few years that I’ve allowed myself some freedom. I’ve created some amazing things and realized there is a lot to explore in this head and heart of mine. I’ve also noticed the dark side. I get seriously down on myself. I can usually tell when it’s happening, and when I’m fighting it, my body fights me. When I give in and listen to the cues, to rest, to create, to dwell a little, I tend to come out ok. However I can’t say I’ve really explored this deeply. Maybe I’m scared of what I will find…will I find severe depression or a creative genius? Is it worth it to know?