Creation as Patterning in Space

Adapted from draft of Creative Systems Theory:


“We select the illusion which appeals to our temperament….” —Cyril Connolly


Creative Systems Theory describes how human systems pattern creatively not just over time but also in the here and now. Patterning in Space concepts address diversity within human systems of all scales—professions and domains in a society, departments in a university, functions in a business, roles in a family, personality styles, or parts within ourselves. Biological systems inhabit ecological niches; Creative Systems Theory proposes that human systems differentiate into a predictable array of creatively ordered psychological/social niches.

The Creative Function provides a sophisticated and detailed way to map here-and-now systemic relationships. We can talk of roles in a business in terms of their creative contribution: put now in Creative Systems language, the research and development arm carries a more Early-Axis role, the manufacturing and hands-on management arms more Middle-Axis roles, and the finance and marketing arms more Late-Axis roles.  In a similar way we can speak of temperament differences in terms of the creative stage sensibilities on which a person most often draws. A person who derives deepest meaning from things imaginative—say a visual artist or someone who finds particular satisfaction working with children—would tend to inhabit preferentially the more germinal (Early-Axis) parts of the creative territory. A person who strongly identifies with moral conviction, helping others, and hard work would likely live most from the mid (Middle-Axis) parts of the creative cycle. A person who finds greatest satisfaction in the world of business or the media would derive more of their Aliveness from the most manifest and material (Late-Axis) creative dimension.

Add to our sequence of stages the polar relationships that organize each stage and we get a fuller picture.  The mapping below depicts more “upper pole” and “lower pole” manifestations of Early, Middle, and Late contributions within the contemporary world of art (artistic contributions that draw most on the ascendant and descendent aspects of the inspiration, perspiration, and finishing and polishing dimensions of creative process as they manifest in Late-Axis culture):



“Upper pole”           —                  avante garde art                       religious  art                   the classical    “high” arts


axis                        —                   early                               middle                                     late


“Lower pole”         —               improvisational  art    traditional and  “folk” arts      popular and  “commercial” art



……………………………………………. Patterning in Space and the World of Art………………………………………………..


Add inner and outer aspects along with these vertical organizational differences and we get finer detail yet. Within any general temperament we find people who are more Upper in their sensibilities—more “lofty” (whether spiritually or intellectually)—and others who are more Lower, more “down to earth.”  And similarly, we find some people who are more Inner, more introverted or reflective, and others who are more Outer, more expressive or outgoing.

The Creative Systems Personality Typology presents the most developed Patterning in Space formulation within Creative Systems Theory.