Chaos, Reason and Creativity .

Positive thinking…..

One of the cudgels with which this vision of sentimental fascism encourages us to beat ourselves is the notion that, ‘everything happens for a reason.’

In other words, you are to blame for your own ills, an unforgiving, colloquial psychoanalysis that implies, along with Freud, that you must have bought this on yourself.

Then why is it so popular?

This mauling of the concept of karma by the wise ones casting their pearls before you is done so that their compassion need never be tested. The effulgent fantasy of how much they care whilst refusing to walk a step in another’s shoes can all be neatly kept in place.

But despite its harshness , so too are we easily comforted by everything happening for a reason. It keeps life’s chaos to a minimum. Stuff is not random, you just haven’t figured out what it was you did to deserve it. And once you have, you can be guilty again and therefor a causal agent in an otherwise crazy world.

….potent in your misfortune.


Everything happening for a reason will re-confirm your bad conscience for you. It will help to make meaning of suffering without actually having to stetch more than your pinky into it or learn anything at all, except what you already know.


It also justifies your advantage over others. You got to be that lucky because the Gods favoured you in your great virtue and therefor condone you. Its not gluttony or greed, its reward for piety.


Either way, ‘everything happening for a reason’ pans out pretty well for those that have paid their subscription. And it all sounds so spiritual and evolved. But its not about karma in its truest sense at all.

It is no longer about, ‘what I must do to fulfill myself’, on the understanding that the Universe will bring lessons to help me in my endeavour.

What we choose to understand by Karma has become distorted into a fear and blame based response to life. We scrabble about for some misdemeanour to hitch our situation to so that we need not experience our smallness or cosmic insignificance.

Everything ‘happening for a reason’ is a collective regression to pre Galilean times when we thought of ourselves as the centre of the Universe. Nothing could occur without reference to our narcissistic selves. It seems we haven’t moved on very much and the ‘evolved’ souls of this world will still tut and cluck when you are hit by a bus or contract ebola, earnestly encouraging you to search your soul, or perhaps what you must have done in a previous life…

to have deserved such a fate…

What is most interesting about this belief system is the impact it has on creative life.

It kills it.

What I’ve noticed is that when you accept that shit does and will happen without that reference to reason, then creativity unfolds by itself.

The reason is simple. Creativity requires chaos.

“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.” F Nietzsche.

There is no chaos in everything happening for a reason. Its all faaar too squared away.

When you can get out of your own way sufficiently for stuff to happen without reason, for things not to make sense, then inspiration comes.

‘Confusion is the welcome mat at the door of creativity.’ M Gelb.

I am a writer. I’m also an artist. There’s a common denominator. I’m at my best when I haven’t the faintest idea what is going on. Something comes at you. Just grab it. Now, use it. Doesn’t matter how. Trust the process.

I got taught this principle by a brother and sister aged four and six respectively who were marooned one summer in the same rambling mansion where I was the grounds keeper.

‘Tell us a story.’

What would you like to hear?’

‘No, a new one.’

‘About a horse with a very long tail…

‘an a glass crown….

‘an a witch with a zapper ray…’

It was hard at first. I had unlearned my imagination and forgotten what it fed upon. They trained me up. The main thing is… to begin.

People hadn’t yet been educated out of their intuitive intelligence in ancient times. The Greek philosopher Carpocrates advocated doing something new every day to keep the chaos alive..

‘It is important to do what you don’t know how to do. It is important to see your skills as keeping you from learning what is deepest and most mysterious’. C Castaneda.

Without the delight of being continuously up against the unknown even that which we think of as ordinary and mundane becomes fraught and tedious. I came across an article today titled, ‘How to eat an Apple’. I was tempted to post a request for some instruction about how to find my hands given that I’d need them whatever the technique being advocated.

So, thank god stuff needn’t happen for a reason. Praise be the glorious, messy, left field of life. And lets be thankful for everything that can sneak up on us unbidden and undeserved.

As far as things happening for a reason are concerned…..

I prefer Joel ben Izzy’s approach,

“I still believe that things in this world do, indeed, happen for a reason. But sometimes that reason only comes after they happen. It is not a reason we find, but one we carve, sculpted from our own pain and loss, bound together with love and compassion”.

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Psychotherapist/writer/artist/ author of, 'Going Mad to Stay Sane', a psychology of self-destructiveness, about to come into its third edition. Soon to be printed for the first time, 'Abundant Delicious.. the Secret and the Mystery', described by activist Satish Kumar as, ' A Tao of the Soul'. This book documents the archetypal country through which the process of individuation occurs and looks at the trials and tribulations we might expect on the way. In the meantime..... Narcissisim is the issue of our age. This blog looks at how it operates, how it can damage and how we may still fruit despite it.

4 thoughts on “Chaos, Reason and Creativity .”

  1. Andy, I’m reading your book, Going Mad to Stay Sane, and am really enjoying it and learning from it. So I checked out your blog. Haven’t had too much of a chance to read more, but, as a writer, I enjoyed this one about chaos as part of creativity. I’m glad to find that you have shared so much, and I’m sure I’ll return to read more. I mistakenly thought I needed to register to comment and read comments, but evidently I’ve registered as a user. Sorry about that. According to the wordpress support, you can delete me (and uncheck “anyone can register” if you want to protect yourself from random blunderers or worse ). Otherwise, you can just accept my assurance that I won’t log in again.

      1. I like the off the walledness–the playfulness– in your blogs, and I’m glad you approve of random blunders, since my running across your book was a bit random. I was/am recovering from a fairly brief and, relatively speaking, benign relationship with a narcissistic man and your book was recommended on the blog The Upturned Soul. What I was after was something that would help me understand my head over heels attraction–something a little more in depth than codependence, or “you’re a compassionate neurotic– an absolute magnet for the narcissist” or the no-brainer that I’m the child of a narcissistic father. Something, too, that allowed compassion (because I am a compassionate neurotic!) and not a complete othering that painted him the villain and me the victim. Going Mad to Stay Sane has turned out to be the perfect fit for me right now. It makes sense of so much beyond my current woes. I’m also intrigued by your big picture of the split from the feminine ages ago, though I haven’t really absorbed it. Over the years, and with therapy, I have dug around in my parents’ backgrounds for the “why”, but it’s not as if there was some recent calamity that would explain the train wreck of my ancestors or anyone else’s that I know. The idea of western civilization split off from nurture and nature is an interesting one. I’d like to share a poem I wrote about my father:

        A Satisfied Man

        A drink or two into the evening,
        eyes wet with sentiment to make it so,
        you used to declare your satisfaction:
        five strong children
        and a beautiful wife.
        But how to keep that mantel?
        The girls got fat. The boys
        stuttered and failed.
        The wife left out and ruined
        in the rain.

        Dogs ran the ravine
        of your soul. Their
        ceaseless baying
        the one sound—how you
        silenced it!—that
        might have led you
        to what flew up ahead.

        You have convinced me that we are all silencing those dogs, not just the most rigid amongst us.

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