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On Bohm’s Creativity and Wholeness

As I engage in my creative practice as an emerging artist and as someone who knows madness, I ask myself: What drives me? What is creativity all about? A book on my shelf promises insight. Titled On Creativity, author David Bohm is the late science theorist and avid lover of the arts. By page three of his first chapter, I discover that what is akin to healing my madness is the preoccupation I have as an artist. How I make sense of Bohm’s creativity might not be true for all artists, but it makes sense to me on my creative and healing journey.


Bohm proposes that often the call of the scientist, much like the artist, is the search aimed at the following:


…the discovery of something new that had previously been unknown… that has a… significance… (the) wish to find in the reality in which (we) live a certain oneness and totality, or wholeness, constituting a kind of harmony that is felt to be beautiful.


(Bohm’s italics). On Creativity, pages 2-3.


This search for wholeness by the scientist and artist is like the wholeness I seek as a person who knows madness. Bohm suggests the scientist and the artist, in their search for something “new” that had previously been “unknown” and is ”whole”, give us ways of seeing ourselves and the world more clearly, and thus touch upon our inherent harmony and beauty. I argue the mad person also serves this purpose if we are open to learn from them. The mad person discovers a “revelation” that is “reality shattering” for they believe they have found the “truth”. If we decode the symbolism of their madness, we might see them, ourselves, and the world more clearly, as always striving for wholeness. They, like the scientist and artist, may help us to remember our innate harmony and beauty.


Bohm’s answer to the question Why are artists called to create? makes sense to me and provides me with comfort on what can otherwise be a scary, lonely, confusing, and frustrating journey. If I keep in mind that my art practice is a kind of spiritual practice, and trust that my preoccupation with creating beauty from my pain not only nourishes me, but can also nourish others, then I stay the course. I keep in mind that all my creative acts, and my mad hustle and bustle, move me towards wholeness and are therefore an integral part of my healing.



How do you resonate with Bohm’s description of what drives artists to create?

In what ways are you seeking wholeness in your artistic practice and healing journey?


Photography by Jasmine Powell