Introduction: The Process and Conditions
According to Wieman, the creative interchange process is innate and can expand and transform the human mind indefinitely. Every child, when conditions are favorable, has the capacity to engage, to a greater or lesser degree, in creative interchange. These conditions facilitate the four characteristics of the CI process discussed in the previous section. These four conditions include; 1) awareness/ trust to foster authentic interacting, 2) curiosity/valuation to foster appreciative understanding, 3) playfulness/creativity a to foster creative integrating and 4) tenacity/commitment to foster continual transforming. These are characteristics of healthy infants and small children from day 1 to approximately 7 to 9 years of age.
Unfortunately, these intrinsic conditions undergo modification and are compromised through a number of conditioning tactics introduced in early childhood by parents, peers, formal educators, media and a myriad of other social and cultural interactions. When these conditions are compromised the CI process is inhibited and/or obstructed and the on-going transformation is retarded. Just what and how this happens will be discussed in a later segment.
“Healthy” infants are aware, vigilant and alert to the world around them. They trust and wonder, are open to adventure, are curious and explore, experiment and discover. There is a thrust to expand the edges of their world. It is associated with the senses of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. It’s a period of noticing and observing. It is a time of playful fascination, flexibility, fluidity and flow. It is coupled with preferences and satisfaction, mistakes and failures, tenacity and learning. These conditions are an integral part of the CI process. As Wieman pointed out, it’s a time of expanding the range or what we can know, appreciate, imagine and control.
Nevertheless, such openness sooner or later meets with lesser or greater degrees of resistance and rejection by parents and others who take part in preparing us for adulthood. The innate conditions that support and sustain CI are gradually re-conditioned to insure that the child can and will function “appropriately” within the prescribed conditions required for membership in a family, group and community. The child is taught to confine their intrinsic nature by conforming to the extrinsic requirements of group membership. They learn to avoid rejection and being ostracized. It is a struggle between an internal locus of control and the internalization of an external locus of control.
The child’s innate original-creative-self is conditioned to become a culturally acceptable adapted-created-self. This is the precise point at which a very important distinction can and must be made. It is the distinction between “I-awareness” of the creative-self and the developing “me-consciousness” of the created-self. Self-awareness and self-consciousness are two aspects or qualities of the same thing. Awareness and consciousness can be differentiated, but not separated. The child’s innate awareness undergoes social conditioning and increasingly becomes conscious. The failure to make this distinction becomes a problem when the child identifies primarily, if not exclusively, with her/his me-consciousness at the expense of being self-aware. Conditioning tends to favor consciousness over awareness.
Awareness is alertness, a noticing, watchfulness, and wakefulness. Aware comes from the Indo-European wer- meaning watch out for, to guard, to respect, and feel awe for. Our word consciousness is derived from the Latin conscious: com, to share, together + scire, to know, to separate one thing from another. Its Indo-European root is skei– to cut, split, splitter, to slice. Our word science comes from the same root. Many people use awareness and consciousness interchangeably, I prefer to keep the distinction in order to be able to discuss differences between the creative and created self.
A further distinction between awareness and consciousness, suggests that awareness involves observing while consciousness involves perceiving. These two functions can be distinguished, but not separated. Observing, as used here, means, to be or become aware of, especially through careful and directed attention. It means to notice. Our word, observe comes from the Latin, ob-, over + servare– to keep, watch; see, to oversee. The Indo-European root ser–1 means to protect, to preserve. Science champions the idea of being a “good observer.” This originally meant that we were “to protect” our observations, experiments, data and conclusions from excessive subjectivity, bias and preconceived ideas. The awareness aspect of CI is simply observing and noticing without bias, prejudice and/or stereotyping. In short, it is nonjudgmental.
Consciousness, on the other hand, perceives. Perception is a characteristic of awareness. It is awareness plus the intention to understand, to apprehend and give meaning to what is being observed. Our word perception comes from the Latin, per– meaning; to, or by each + capere, to seize. The Indo-European root kap means, to grasp, to have, hold and that which binds. Perception is an active stance in relationship to what is being seen, heard, touched, etc. Awareness is observing without “intending” to do anything with the observation. Consciousness is about making sense and providing meaning, about adapting and understanding what is being perceived. Creative interchange is optimized when there is an integration of observing (creative-self) and perceiving (created self). When this condition is present awareness and consciousness can be mutually supportive.
A child, under normal circumstances comes into the world aware. Through conditioning and domestication the child becomes less aware as they become more conscious. Awareness is a fundamental condition of CI. Consciousness involves preferences, which can foster or obstruct CI. There are four primary conditions, present in children that are inseparable from the CI process. All of these conditions are compromised to greater of lesser degrees in the process of becoming an adult. The following is a closer look at each of the conditions.