Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 20, Iss. 1, January, 2016, pp. 117-139
@2016 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Accessing Creativity: Jungian Night Sea Journeys, Wandering Minds, and Chaos

Diane Rosen, State University of New York, Suffern, NY

Abstract: NDS theory has been meaningfully applied to the dynamics of creativity and psychology. These complex systems have much in common, including a broad definition of "product" as new order emerging from disorder, a new whole (etymologically, ”health”) out of disintegration or destabilization. From a nonlinear dynamical systems perspective, this paper explores the far-from-equilibrium zone of creative incubation: first in the Jungian night sea journey, a primordial myth of psychological and creative transformation; then in the neuroscience of mind wandering, the wellspring of creative ideation within the larger neural matrix. Finally, chaos theory grounds the elusive subject of creativity, modeling chaotic generation of idea elements that tend toward strange attractors, combine unpredictably, and produce change by means of tension between opposites, particularly noetic consciousness (light) and the poetic unconscious (darkness). Examples from my own artwork illustrate this dialectical process. Considered together, the unconscious mythic sea journey, the unknowing wandering mind, and the generative paradigm of deterministic chaos suggest conditions that facilitate creativity across disciplines, providing fresh indications that the darkness of the unknown or irrational is, paradoxically, the illuminative source and strength of creativity.

Keywords: creativity, affect, chaos, unconscious, unknowing