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Answering Bakhtin

Given the intricate, multifaceted, and challenging nature of creativity, is it advisable, akin to Mikhail Bakhtin, to forgo endeavors to formulate theories about these processes?

Bakhtin’s Approach To Creativity: Embracing Complexity

Mikhail Bakhtin, unlike attempting precise definitions, refrained from formulating a systematic theory on aesthetics and creativity. Despite the intricacy and elusive nature of creativity, his perspective draws from established European philosophical traditions.

Key concepts like answerability, outsideness, and unfinalisability, originating from Bakhtin’s early years, shed light on his understanding of creativity. Particularly, the notion of answerability underscores the importance of real-life contexts over theoretical norms or values, steering away from what he termed theoretism.

answering Bakhtin
Mikhail Bakhtin avoided clear definitions of aesthetics and never produced a systematic theory about creativity or the creative process.

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Bakhtin’s Notion Of Art And Answerability Simplified

In his brief essay ‘Art and Answerability,’ Bakhtin emphasized the significance of answerability. Drawing inspiration from Kantian principles, he highlighted the potential unity of reason, ethics, and aesthetics within an individual.

This unity, however, could be either superficial and mechanical or profound and intrinsic. Bakhtin cautioned against external connections between the self, art, and the world, which might result in overly confident art lacking true responsiveness to life.

For a genuine connection between art and life, Bakhtin asserted the need for answerability – responsiveness to others, events, and the world. This perspective insists that experience and comprehension should intertwine with real-life actions.

Bakhtin’s objective was to underscore that a continuous process of responsive interaction, termed “answerability,” can unify art and life within an individual.

Answerability, in Bakhtin’s terms, refers to the mutual responsiveness occurring between two individuals or between art and life. The concept implies a sense of obligation, grounded not merely in theory but in an individual’s concrete responses to real people in specific situations.

Furthermore, Bakhtin viewed answerability as the embodiment of individual responsibility and obligation, translating into actions not only for oneself but also on behalf of others.

M. C. Richards, Dream Angel.

Foundations Of Creativity: Radical Presence And Interconnectedness

Bakhtin consistently emphasized the interconnectedness of self and others, text and context, art, and daily life, considering it the cornerstone of the creative process. I found a comparable concept in Richards’s writings in the late 1960s. In her book Centering, she expressed the idea that life itself is an art. This notion, akin to Richards’s idea of life as an art apprenticeship, underscores the profound link between the self and the world.

Despite Bakhtin’s lack of specificity in defining creativity, akin to Richards’s contemplation on the sufficiency of creative pursuits, should we abandon attempts to theorize these processes?

In response, the Dream Angel in M.C. Richards’s narrative suggests not worrying about the specifics. By pondering the significance of creativity amidst vast needs, Richards receives assurance from the Angel.

In light of Bakhtin’s concept of answerability and the Dream Angel’s perspective, the encouragement is to persist in exploring creativity and creative processes.

Similarly, with the Angel’s watchful gaze and Bakhtin’s call for concrete responsibility, the journey toward genuine life and art unfolds, urging us to reach this worthy goal.

Also Read: The Physicality Of Anger In The Middle Ages

Prakriti Paudel
Prakriti Paudel
Prakriti Paudel, a meticulous editor and insightful writer, navigates the realms of storytelling with precision and creativity.

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