August 23, 2013
I’ve spent much of today gathering and reading bits of articles on imagination, play and creativity. Among them is a piece by Lev Vygotsky entitled, “Imagination and Creativity in Childhood”(translated into English from the Russian and published in 2004 in the Journal of Russian and East European Psychology). I’ve read only bits and pieces of it so far (it’s nearly 100 pages long) but I’ve stumbled upon a few paragraphs I never read before. To me, they exemplify Vygotky’s revolutionary science and revolutionary politics, as he strived to understand and relate to human beings as engaged in the revolutionary activity of creating—as persons and as our species—who and what we are becoming.
It must not be forgotten that the basic law of children’s creativity is that its value lies not in its results, not in the product of creation, but in the process itself. It is not important what children create, but that they do create, that they exercise and implement their creative imagination.
If human activity were limited to reproduction of the old, then the human being would be a creature oriented only to the past and would only be able to adapt to the future to the extent that it reproduced the past. It is precisely human creative activity that makes the human being a creature oriented toward the future, creating the future and thus altering his own present.
Just as electricity is equally present in a storm with deafening thunder and blinding lightning and in the operation of a pocket flashlight, in the same way, creativity is present, in actuality, not only when great historical works are born but also whenever a person imagines, combines, alters, and creates something new, no matter how small a drop in the bucket this new thing appears compared to the works of geniuses. When we consider the phenomenon of collective creativity, which combines all these drops of individual creativity that frequently are insignificant in themselves, we readily understand what an enormous percentage of what has been created by humanity is a product of the anonymous collective creative work of unknown inventors.