During the several years I created comic panels and strips, I would lie down on my couch, sketchbook in hand, and run comparisons or associations between not obviously related categories or themes, seeking incongruous connections. If I found the kind of matching-up that I was seeking, humor with some insight would result. Disappointment and bitterness often accompanied these comic strip and panel productions. Humor often serves to reveal and share hidden feelings. Talented humorists tease out the universalities in situations, allowing us to feel disappointed, frustrated and sometimes relieved and appreciative all at once.
I did most of my comic production at the end of a marriage, during the divorce, dating, and then remarriage. A lot of the comics revolved around relationship, the nature of relationship and the brutal challenges of connecting with another human being. This comic creating period lasted about five years.
At about the same time I was producing comics, I rediscovered music. As a teenager and as an adult before my first marriage, I listened to and created music. That faded as I grew older, disappearing from my life during the twelve years of that relationship. Music re-entered my life as I turned toward dating a second time. After bonding with my second wife, music again withdrew to become of negligible importance. Not that music every really leaves me. It just withdraws to the constant rhythm that my body produces: finger taps, fingernail clicks, sways and hand rhythms, foot movements. Songs are often playing in the background of my thoughts.
The connection between music and creativity and mate-seeking is pretty obvious in my life. I experience a compulsion to produce when single. Music touches me deeply at those times. When married, not so much so.
Evolutionary Psychologist Geoffrey Miller has explored this dynamic in some detail, particularly in his book The Mating Mind. Miller hypothesizes that humans evolved largely as a result of sexual selection focusing on aesthetic behaviors propelling brain size increases, unique physiological features and music production. The theory on these pages has synergies with Miller’s work. He’s written me that he views at least one of my essays on social structure and sexual selection as compatible with his thesis.
Miller has observed that the production of acclaimed composers and performers usually correlates with the teenage and young adult years when the performers are in procreation mode. Indeed, I’ve noticed that pattern in my own life and in the lives of performers that I’ve observed. Miller and I agree that creativity and procreation are closely tied. We both hypothesize that human evolution resulted from a unique combination of sex and aesthetics.
And then there is the kind of creativity I am involved in now, writing these short essays, composing this theory of evolution.
At about the same time I stopped cartooning, about a year in to my second marriage, I began a project to produce a book on dragons. Long story short (visit humanevolution.net for details), this theory of evolution emerged. I ran with that for a couple years and then shelved it while starting a new profession. When I started this blog in April of 08, my interests in evolution re-emerged and then, this autumn, deepened. The deepening occurred shortly after being diagnosed with a cerebral aneurysm.
The kind of creativity I’m involved in now is qualitatively different from that which I was part of when I was single. I am not so much performing, though I deeply desire recognition. The theorizing on evolution and my observations of social change have more to do with a fervent wish to make a contribution, to reveal what is hidden. Before, when I was single both times, I sought to manifest that which was hidden in me in order to find someone I could trust, to find a mate. This time, as a gratitude-experiencing married person, I seek to make visible the processes of our species and society’s unfolding. I am still the artist, and the invisible I seek to make available is still about sex, still about aesthetics, but at the level of their operational dynamics.
When we are young, or when we are seeking a mate, it seems connection is all about connection between two people. Perhaps, growing older, we explore connection in its more universal aspect. Younger, we create to achieve copulation. Older, we create to provide an understanding of the context that compels us to create to achieve copulation. In both we seek to be integral to our community.
I wonder how Geoffrey Miller views postprocreation stage creativity. Reader, what might your opinion be?