How Does Oliver Sacks Define Creativity?

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In Oliver Sacks’ work, An Anthropologist on Mars, Sacks delves into the increasingly difficult task of defining creativity, ultimately illustrating that successful adaptation of the brain toward creativity depends on not only physical brain plasticity, but also the internal and external motivations of the victim, asserting that a creative mind holds the key for successful processing and acceptance of loss.
Brain plasticity, as defined by the Society of Neuroscience, “refers to the extraordinary ability of the brain to modify its own structure and function following changes within the body or in the external environment” (Frostig). This sort of adaptation lies at the heart of Sacks’ work. Sacks emphasizes this remarkable ability of the brain
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I’s brain, along with many others that faced damage in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, did its best to compensate for the sense of deep loss. At first, Mr. I fell into a state of denial. He could not seem to believe that he had lost all sense of color. He went to work as normal, only to his surprise to find the weather remarkably bland, though he knew the sun shone brightly that day. He had no knowledge of running red lights, or even what had occurred the previous day. In the days and weeks that followed, Mr. I’s brain began working in overdrive to shape and explain a new world to which Mr. I must learn to live in. His eyesight had improved immensely, seemingly rewired for the dusk and night hours, a time “designed . . . in terms of black and white” (Sacks 38). Additionally, Mr. I “divorced” himself from color, as if his brain willed him to forget that he had lost it at all (36). He had an “amnesia” for color, and as the old world of color slowly faded away from within, an entirely new one was readily accessible; a “new sensibility was born” (40). Mr. I’s brain shows the heightened power of plasticity. Without his brain working in overdrive to paint a more suitable reality, Mr. I never would have moved from personal denial of his …show more content…
A creative mind will find ways to continue to pursue the craft it has fallen deeply in love for. Gardner explains this passionate love for a craft as an entity that the individual cannot bear to live without (355). This unbreakable pull of a craft to a creator perfectly manifested itself in Mr. I, albeit not initially. At first, Mr. I could not imagine his world in black and white. He only saw it as cavernous and dark, finding it difficult to live in a world “molded in lead,” as he so described his strange phenomenon (11). Unable to formulate any previous notions or concepts of color, Mr. I felt “radically impoverished,” by seeing rainbows, listening to music, or even losing himself within his own dreams (12). This anger and depression, of his own inability to see what he believed to be clean and correct consumed him even leading to “time[s] of agitation [and] even desperation” (12). Feeling as if he had lost his creative identity, he had given up. However, he soon realized that his love could not be bridled or subdued, even if the primary component was forcibly cut

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