Friday, March 21, 2008

Creative Integrity

Behold: an ambigram of the words "Creative" and "Integrity," more characteristics I'd like to apply to myself. This one I think is interesting because it has three meanings, the two words alone and the conjunction, which is itself a distinct concept.

And here I've done you, dear reader, the courtesy of inverting the ambigram in advance. Wouldn't want you to strain your neck trying to see the secondary meaning. One thing I love about these things is how subjective they are; meaning that there are so many ways they can look pleasing and be "right." Rightness could be said to be a function of "pleasingness" and "meaningness" in this strange artform. Even as I look at the image now, just a minute after the final Save As, I see ways in which I could make it look cooler and more meaningful.

Putting these two words together seemed like a natural thing, but when I was done realized that I really didn't have an idea of what "creative integrity" means. Each of the words by themselves have nice glowy connotations, but what does it mean to have the property of "creative integrity?" The web would have me believe that it is: "a devotion to creation for creation's sake." I feel like this is almost, but not quite the feeling that the idea evokes in me. The above definition seems to suggest that the creator and the creation are separate, as if theres some duty of the creator to bring the creation into the world.

Perhaps most of that is true, but I feel like the creator and the creation are indistinct, that by creating somthing a person leaves a bit of their uniqueness "permanently" in the world. Permanently is in scare quotes because of the impermanence of anything, of course. So the duty to create is to oneself. I like this idea; it explains some of why I'm feeling so compelled to do things like blog and make art, and I suspect that it underlies much of the motivation of all people who do creative things, be it art, science, or any hopefully-permanent expression of themselves.

And, of course, I must ask why this might be a humanly universal (nearly) trait. Memes come to mind, as might be unsurprising. Memes that encourage their hosts to preserve them are more likely to survive and propagate, and the "creative integrity" idea could easily be viewed as such a meme.

[five minutes later]

Its funny, I really like reading my own blog posts and looking at my own art. I suppose this is an indirect form of narcissism. Instead of admiring a representation of my physical image, I'm admiring a representation of some abstract things in my mind.

One of the reasons I think I originally wanted to draw ambigrams (though this thought was absent when I actually undertook the first endeavor) was that I would like to get a tattoo, and I would like it to be totally original and deeply representative of me. I'd like it to be a characteristic of myself that is as lasting as my Self is. The Creative Integrity meme might be just such a thing. In the spirit of making well-considered descisions, I'm gonna say I'll give it a year before I make a decision.


nagfa said...

Hi, TJ

we've been observing your works for a while. What we like about your posts is the fact that you've always accompany brilliant designs with an even brilliant (and intimate) point of view. this adds a certain gravity to your thinking, especially in your life's philosophy.. keep up with the great work.

we design ambigrams too

salam (peace)

TJ Murphy said...


Thank you very much for your comment, I sincerely appreciate your priase. Yours is the first response to my blog with a personal appreciation, and it means very much to me that my "shouting in the dark" is being heard... its nice to feel the slightest connection with another (set of) intelligent beings accross the vast spacial and cultural distance.

Your ambigrams are really exciting! I love to see creativity expressed in unexpected ways, and I will check your site regularly. I feel like I've got a lot to learn, as a novice (in most things), and I feel that I could learn from you.

I find it interesting that you seem to be posting with a combined identity, being what I would guess is a married couple. I'm interested: how literally do you mean and feel that? Have you attained that romantic ideal of truly meshing with another individual, such that together there is a tertiary, emergent "person?"

*Ha* No pressure. Anyway thanks for you comment, I look forward to corresponding with you!