No book has affected my views on art and creativity more than the Russian philosopher Nicolas Berdyaev's The Meaning of the Creative Act. Although I've been reading him for the past 25 years, I feel that only now am I beginning to integrate his thinking into my philosophy, cosmology, anthropology and theology. Berdyaev was a powerful intellect, but also a revolutionary and an activist who suffered imprisonment and exile for his commitment to intellectual, political and social freedom. At the core of his philosophy was the belief that:
Creativity is religious in nature, for it involves resistance to “this world” by the artist’s whole spirit. It is a universal assumption of another world and a universal impulse towards it. The creative act is always liberation and conquest. It is an experience of power. In essence, creativity is a way out, an exodus; it is victory. And God calls men to creative activity and to a creative answer to his love.
Although often aphoristic, Berdyaev's philosophical thought was more intuitive than systematic, and he writes in a dense and repetitive style. Over the next year I will be attempting to create a synthesis of his perspectives as expressed in his numerous books including The Destiny of Man, Freedom and Spirit, Dream and Reality, and most centrally, The Meaning of the Creative Act.
Following are key excerpts from various chapters of this vital work.