At a fundamental level creativity challenges who we are — as individual and as societies.
To face the radical challenges of inequity and environmental destruction we need a creativity that challenges and transforms who we are and who we are becoming.
This is an ontological challenge — it challenges our being.
It is a question of developing new processes of ontogenesis — new practices of becoming.
Most creative practices and methodologies frame their concern as some form of general problem solving. And in doing so they do not even recognize that there are more general questions that need to be addressed: what is the relation between our historical mode of being alive in the west and inequity or environmental destruction?
These are questions of worlds and worldmaking.
What is it to have a world? What is it to be “of” a world?
It’s not a question we often ask ourselves.
Nor is one that is often asked in the field of creativity.
Creative change is understood most often to involve parts and practices — but that deep down it is taken for granted that “who we are” is universally the same and unchangeable.
A good example of this is the use of tools like Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs that assume all people everywhere are the same and have the same “needs.”
But is this really the case?
When the Māori in New Zealand say that the Whanganui river is a person — this is not meant as a metaphor — it is really a person.
What it means to be a person must be something very different — and something that does not fit in our “world” and certainly not in one that contains Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs…
In Anthropology and Philosophy there has been an “ontological turn” — a realization that our fundamental western categories of matter, nature, personhood etc. — our mode of being (ontology/cosmology) cannot be assumed to be universally applicable.
We have a world.
There are other worlds.
And other worlds are possible.
Understanding this is critical to facing our most important creativity challenges in the 21st century.
It is not an easy or obvious thing to engage with (what is it to be of a world?). We share what we feel is a good starting - a lecture by the anthropologist Philippe Descola on how worlds and non-humans meet — talking about worlds, crows, rivers as people and more... take a listen.
If this interests you we wrote a longer article taking worlds further - You Are of a World Where Other Worlds Are Possible -- let us know what you think.