CREATIVITY: The Magic Synthesis by Silvano Arieti

CREATIVITY: The Magic Synthesis

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The Italian-born psychiatrist, winner of a 1975 National Book Award for An Interpretation of Schizophrenia, has spent much of his distinguished career studying cognitive and perceptual processes. Here he has assembled a huge amount of material: reviews of the literature on concept- and image-formation; close examinations of poetic language; eclectic forays into cultural history; brief glances at the physiological puzzles of the cerebral cortex. Yet he does not always manage to fuse these disparate contexts. There are passages which are like minefields of ideas, and others which solemnly belabor the commonplace. The most exciting part of the book is Arieti's introductory conceptual groundwork, exploring the relationships among image-perceptions, the ""endocepts"" which barely touch the conscious mind, and the ""paleologic"" or ""primary process"" which coexists with ordinary logic (""secondary process"") in all thinking, but is more dearly revealed in schizophrenia. Arieti believes that the artist maintains an enriching ""tertiary"" interchange between primary and secondary processes. He examines this dynamic at work in various ""creative"" fields from wit (a particularly stimulating analysis) to philosophy. These sections often stumble off into unilluminating detours of exegesis and historical generalization, or oddly platitudinous, question-begging concepts. His generalizations about the ""creativogenic"" society and the cultivation of individual creativity do not always escape clichÉ. One reads with respect and occasionally with great excitement--but not with confidence in the systematic fulfillment of a broad design.

Pub Date: July 16th, 1976
Publisher: Basic Books