MYTHICAL BASES FOR A SOCIOLOGICAL DEFINITION OF THE CONCEPT OF CREATIVITY.

Author:Carcel, Juan A. Roche
  1. Introduction

    Even though Sociology has traditionally assigned a marginal place to the study of creativity (Joas 2013: 63), the latter has become an emergent research object lately, particularly since Hans Joas published The Creativity of Action in 2013. That is probably why the sociological approach to its concept can be described as somewhat inaccurate, insofar as it is often addressed on an a priori basis and admitted without reflecting on its true social and cultural meaning. Within such a context, this article makes an attempt to provide a more specific definition of creativity from its genealogy and in relation to the socio-cultural-historical environment where it originates. More precisely, it revolves around the way in which creativity is viewed by the western myths which identify the instituting generatrix forces or the procreative divinities that are behind the birth of the cosmos, of the world, of society, of the earth, of gods, of human beings, of animals and of plants. Therefore, an interpretative examination of the myths about Mother Goddess, those about Biblical Genesis, as well as of Greek creation myths will serve as the foundation for drawing a conceptual map meant to define its key features; the ultimate aim consists in verifying the extent to which those features have survived until today.

    The theoretical and methodological foundations are supported on M. Weber's civilization stages and on Freud's religious order stages. Nevertheless, given the limited importance that these two scholars assigned both to creativity itself and to the role played by women in it, as well as in civilization, attention will likewise be paid to such influential researchers as M. Gimbutas, J. Campbell, D. Boorstin, G. Steiner and others and, especially, to the postulates of other sociologists who dealt with the evolution of civilization and with the role played therein by religion and family structure.

    For Weber, the History of Mankind has developed in three main stages: that of tribal societies and neighborhood ethics; the prophetic or salvation era of fraternity ethics; and the modern individualistic, capitalistic or rationalistic society. Three social agents act successively in the three aforementioned stages--the wizard or shaman; the prophet, the savior, the ascetic and the mystic; and the charismatic man --within a social structure that is rooted in kinship and neighborhood (Bellah 1999: 279-300). The same as Weber, Freud (1985: 37-198) believes--in Totem and Taboo

    --that family organization, together with the religious factor, constitute the key to historical development. Thus, the paternal horde is replaced by the fraternal clan, in parallel to the substitution of the Son's religion for that of the Father. According to both Weber and Freud, these evolutionary perspectives stem from the religious-family structure and they both obviate the role of women, even though Freud (1985: 153) recognizes that totemism is a creation of the 'female spirit'.

    The first acknowledgement of a matriarchal order in the Near East and Europe can be found in 1861, in J. Bachofen's Mother Right (Engels 2013: 49). However, it was M. Gimbutas, with her compilation, classification, and descriptive interpretation of nearly two thousand symbolic artifacts coming from European Neolithic sites (7000 B.C.-3200 B.C.) that provided us with the first great systematization of the "Language of the Goddess". This implies a huge historical breakthrough, since it has revealed a philosophy of human existence opposed to the highly ideologized, hierarchized, and manipulated systems which have prevailed on an absolute basis in the Western World during the successive historical periods (Campbell 2015: 387-389).

    It thus seems logical--and ethical--to claim that creativity is also feminine and, accordingly, to divide the myths about origin into three distinct areas: that of Mother Goddess--corresponding to a hypothetical matriarchal society--; that of Father God--related to a patriarchal society--; and that of Son God--linked to a fratriarchal and democratic era. This tripartite periodization is mentioned by A. Ortiz-Oses (1993) and by a variety of sociologists, including J. Beriain (1999: 70-86), J. A. Bergua (2015: 133) and M. Maffesoli (2004: 29, 37, 89), which provides evidence of its obvious sociological relevance. Furthermore--as seen below --it proves very useful in finding the origins of Western creativity, or expressed differently, the creation of our civilization.

    Summing up, taking the aforesaid theoretical and methodological bases as our reference, this article is structured around three fundamental sections--respectively dedicated to the genealogy of creativity offered in the myths of Mother Goddess, of Father God, and of Son God--preceded by an introduction and followed by a conclusion.

  2. Mythical genealogy of the concept of creativity

    2.1. Creativity in the religion of Mother Goddess, the creatrix of the Universe

    2.1.1. The Goddess of Life and Death: generatrix and nourishing mother and womb for the return of the dead

    The Great Goddess, who stands out as the essential divine figure in the world's first mythological cosmovision (Campbell 2015: 14), originates in the Paleolithic but deploys in the Neolithic. The Paleolithic witnessed the oldest female artistic representations--circular or pear-shaped vulvas, the symbol of sex--(Delporte 1982: 8 and 247, Gamble 2001: 319), which express the conception that hunting societies have about women and divinity and constitute antecedents for the later myths which preserve the old conceptions of the Goddess--first orally and then through writing. A special mention must also be made of the Aurignacian-Gravettian Venuses, small sculptures found in a broad area (France, Italy, Central Europe, Russia and Siberia) (Delporte 1982: 29, 218 and 311). In general, this early naked women-goddesses simultaneously represented the origin itself, the matrix of future mankind as a whole and the omnipresent sex in a wild state (Lessing et al. 1994: 33), without forgetting that they likewise embody an obese and adipose woman-goddess with an idea of abundant beauty, right when surviving was a question of food and fertility (Lucie-Smith 1994: 11). These Venuses have been located outdoors--where families lived --(Campbell 2015: 19-20), but also inside deep caves, away from the inhabited everyday space (Delporte 1982: 210 and 293-299). It is not by chance that these caves symbolize the vulva, the matrix of Mother Earth and the entry or the return to the maternal uterus (Gimbutas 1991: 233, Gimbutas 1997: 47, Husain 2001: 54 and 163, Smith 2003: 197 and 230-231, and Campbell 2015: 45).

    The Goddess of the first farmers developed at a time when the main concerns are no longer animal hunting and slaughter but sowing and harvesting. The oldest images of the Great Goddess of the farming cultures come from the Near East and Europe, and date back to the period between 7000 and 5000 B.C. (Campbell 2015: 25). Nonetheless, the relationships between humans and nature had already deeply changed around the year 10000 B.C., after they domesticated it and later dominated it, which in turn brought about a cultural, ideological, and psychical transformation of the human beings themselves (Guilaine and Zammit 2002: 101).

    Neolithic religion granted a dominant role to matriarchal symbols, which express the analogy between human and plant fertility and their religious rites (Eliade 1989: 127), as well as the close and mystical bond between the human being and the deep rhythms (Ries 1997: 13), on a permanent evolution, of a nature deified by its cyclical, renovating, and generative potential (Eisenstad 1986: 1-25, Gimbutas 1997: 58). Along with this, the existence of a Pregnant Goddess of Vegetation expresses the idea of a Mother Nature with an impregnated womb, recognizing that the seed is the cause of germination and the reason for the swollen belly of a woman to be assimilated with a sown field. It additionally stresses that the forces of the earth concentrate in mounds, hills, rocks, and trees; and that they associate their matrix with the curvilinear outlines of the land and with the cave (Gimbutas 1991: 233, 1997: 47), the first city, that of the dead (Mumford 1979: 11). Therefore, Mother Goddess embodies life and death and the afterlife that souls emigrate to; it consequently personifies the psychology of mortality and resurrection on which the agrarian mindset is rooted (Bru 1990: 23-25).

    In sum, Mother Goddess has two basic functions: it grants life and receives you in death. She is the goddess who gives birth, who takes the seed and turns it into life, but--as the farming peoples knew--the seed grows, develops, matures, dies, and finally returns to the earth from which it came. A third and quite important one for our topic should be added to these two basic functions, though: Mother Goddess inspires poetic realization and the wishes to be not only animals (Campbell 2015: 73-87). In short, the Mother Goddess of matriarchal society is the Creatrix of the Universe and the poetic muse of humans.

    2.1.2. Features of Mother Goddess creativity

    But what are the outstanding characteristics of creativity according to Mother Goddess mythology?

  3. The identity between the Creatrix and Creation expresses unity, insofar as creativity is a generating flow that goes from the mother to her children, or from the creatrix to her creations, and vice versa. No breaking of the umbilical cord consequently takes place, since this creativity owns the will to unite what is separated, to erotically merge the opposed strengths born on Earth. Hence why neither divisions nor hierarchies, genders, competitiveness, and conflicts exist in Mother Goddess creativity; and neither does diversity, even though--it must be remembered--Mother Goddess diversely manifests herself always remaining unique, as her body represents the cosmos that combines various...

To continue reading

Request your trial