The Relationship of Science and Creativity

Joel Eisenberg
ReflectionUnsplash, Anna Fafaliou

DNA-based memory is not fiction. Creativity flows and resonates because of our gifts. Tap in for the next evolution of your art.

The news took the science world by storm: Scientists Have Observed Epigenetic Memories Being Passed Down For 14 Generations.

Why is this important to an artist?

I’ve long held a theory that the idea of artists being a largely sensitive lot is a scientifically-explainable reality. To that end, I am going to postulate a layman’s hypothesis here that is based only in part on verified observable and measurable science but of which I am also becoming increasingly convinced:

An artist’s genetically-based recall is real, and naturally stronger than those who are not creatively-inclined, due precisely to this high degree of sensitivity which in itself is biologically influenced. As artists, if we can tap into this trait, our work will become that much more resonant.

Let’s visit the dog-wolf connection first before we proceed. See here for Live Science article.

Most theorists believe, regardless of time of domestication, that dogs and wolves either share DNA with another species, or dogs (still) have wolf in them.

It is to this latter point on which I will speak.

The following points illustrate my vaguely related contention regarding the genes of creativity ...

On the Act of Creation

1. How many of us believe, in our gut, that writing is a “calling?” As in, you were not built for anything else, nor would you be happy doing anything else either for a living or otherwise during your waking hours? Ask yourselves the following questions:

  • “Why is my compulsion to create so intensely strong?”
  • “How would I function if I was unable to create, or work on my craft?”
  • “Do I veer towards emotional sensitivity in my day-to-day? Do I anger quickly? Do I feel joy for others, or become saddened faster than others? Am I empathic, or sympathetic?”
  • What exactly am I trying to express, that I can only or best express in my art?

2. Do you believe artists are “gifted” in some of the above ways? I believe we are akin to savants. We’ve all heard of, or experienced, gifts of others: the four-year-old who plays piano like Beethoven and veritably speaks the language of music, multilingual young boys or girls, or even athletes that are stronger and faster than most yet who barely work out to build to that point. Artists are not all that different, to my mind. We all have “something extra” in our make-up. Do you agree, or disagree? Why?

3. I recently posted the following article on News Break: Madness and the Creative Mind: Not a Dime's Bit of Difference.

In that article, I wrote the following: Some theorists have postulated that the process of creativity is essentially an active, subconscious recall of ancestral memory. Let’s take this one step further. If DNA memory is real, is it worth questioning, at the very least, whether the human mind has the ability to recall certain events, emotions, and habits of prior generations? This is not to say that entities from our family’s past have blown up Death Stars, or flew like Superman, or attended wizard academies like Hogwarts. It is to say that the trait of human imagination may be a considerably more complex tool than heretofore considered. Perhaps past imagination seeds present imagination, which may help explain how the most visionary science fiction tends to become science fact in the passage of time.

I stand by this postulate, and also the fact that it does not answer everything. No one, least of all me, is claiming to have solved the riddle of human creativity.

However, I am saying we are on the verge of something, perhaps the next big discovery as it regards the true nature of the enigmatic human mind and its capabilities.

On the Resonance of the Creativity of Others

This is where we get a little skippy as some would say, as what follows may well read as pseudo-science. I assure you that my words are strictly hypothetical, but words of which I am increasingly inclined to accept as truth.

  1. Have you ever looked at a painting, for example, I mean really looked at a painting, that held particular resonance? Why did it resonate? Did you feel as though you were in that particular setting for a moment? As if, you had actually visited that scene before? This is not an unusual phenomenon. Read on.
  2. Should DNA in general hold anything other than unconscious response as it regards genetic memory, would it not stand to reason that the “missing piece” as it were relates to conscious considerations? In that event, would the concept of conscious memory be that much of a stretch?
  3. Again, excerpted from my prior article, posted above: In layman’s terms, the (2010 Karolinska Institutet) study concluded that artists and schizophrenics tended to share a similar brain chemistry. Previous international studies concluded that the concept of “thinking outside the box,” also known as divergent thinking, was associated with lower dopamine receptor activity in the thalamus, the same tendency shared by those suffering from schizophrenia. A biological connection between creativity and mental illness was linked for the first time to this degree.
  4. From the Journal of Neuroscience, and its biological relation to the hippocampus: The Biology of Memory.

5. If memory is stored, then what of creativity? My contention is creativity is innate. If creativity is innate, and necessary for some, then its capacity must emanate from an unidentified biological component. The question arises whether that capacity differs from person to person. In the same way as some are born with illness or dysfunction, or without certain limbs as another example, though I tend to believe we all have the ability to naturally (and unnaturally) manipulate our brain chemistry, I do believe those abilities differ.

6. If the brain chemistry of highly-creative individuals equates in some cases to mental illness, in which perceptions of the world differ due to biological irregularities, then the act of creativity is the equivalent of contemplative hallucination, or, as previously mentioned … either the DNA’s seeding of past imaginations of those who once shared your familial DNA — which is where I land — or a literal memory of one who lived in the past, embedded deeply within your genetic makeup.

For any number of reasons, I think we can safely leave that last option back in the office.

Regardless, clearly mine is not an exact science. But as one who for years has studied the act of creativity, with the endgame of proving a link between a human being’s DNA traits and memories of ancestors passed, what sounds like science fiction will hopefully be granted the wherewithal to one day become a true scientific study.

In the meantime, writers and other artists, it is time to more deeply tap into what makes us special.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA

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