On Creativity: A Philosophical and Structural Context by Narmin Ka, co-founder of Azerbajan’s Alatoran Magazine


Narmin Kamal is a Ph.D. from Azerbajan and co-founder and vice editor of Alatoran Magazine.

She is one of the founders of the Alatoran movement, the Foundation of Independent Writers, in contemporary Azerbaijani literature.

She translated academic texts and important works into Azeri, including works by Jacques Derrida, Michele Foucault and Umberto Eco. These were the first translations of these authors into Azerbaijani. Her work may be found here:  www.alatoran.org

We have made every effort to render her work accessible and natural-sounding in English, and request forgiveness for any lack of clarity.

Essay on Creativity
(Based on different Sufi and Zen philosophies)
Narmin Kamal

It was 12 hours that I had been riding in the compartment of a train and observing my fellow-passenger. He was doing one and the same thing again and anew. There was a newspaper in the compartment. He was repeatedly reading the same news and putting the newspaper aside, then picking it up again to read as if there were nothing more to do. This person, destined to sit in a compartment for a definite period of time, couldn’t find any other possibilities of activity and that was why he was reading the newspaper again and again.

He cannot stop doing something, because he is an active person and cannot remain free of activity for too long, but he is not involved in generating ideas and is not being truly creative.

When he got tired of reading, he opened his bag, changed the places of items in the bag a little, closed his bag and sat down. After a little while he opened his bag again, looked through his stuff, then closed his bag again. Then reached out his hand for the newspaper. What is he doing? Why does he do that? What state of consciousness is this?

Some people feel alive through engaging in lively activity, but non-creative activities, even active ones, are truly as interesting as a game of chess where one’s pieces lie in a fatal, doomed, losing location. Chess allows freedom within an area consisting of 64 checked-squares on the check-board. So, there are many possible moves, but they must all conform to restrictions. 

Creativity is an uprising. It means tasting something new, refusing the conditions placed on the pre-made moves. Creativity is best defined as making something that hasn’t been made before.

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