Rodin's sculpture "The Thinker" dominates our collective imagination as the purest representation of human inquiry--the lone, stoic thinker. But while the Western belief in individualism romanticizes this perception of the solitary creative process, the reality is that scientific and artistic forms emerge from the joint thinking, passionate conversations, emotional connections and shared struggles common in meaningful relationships. In Creative Collaboration, Vera John-Steiner offers rare and fascinating glimpses into the dynamic alliances from which some of our most important scholarly ideas, scientific theories and art forms are born. Within these pages we witness the creative process unfolding in the intimate relationships of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Henry Miller and Anais Nin, Marie and Pierre Curie, Martha Graham and Erick Hawkins, and Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz; the productive partnerships of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, Albert Einstein and Marcel Grossmann, Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, and Freeman Dyson and Richard Feynman; the familial collaborations of Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus, and Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson and Mary Catherine Bateson; and the larger ensembles of The Guarneri String Quartet, Lee Strasburg, Harold Clurman and The Group Theater, and such feminist groups as The Stone Center and the authors of Women's Ways of Knowing. Many of these collaborators complemented each other, meshing different backgrounds and forms into fresh styles, while others completely transformed their fields. Here is a unique cultural and historical perspective on the creative process. Indeed, by delving into these complex collaborations, John-Steiner illustrates that the mind--rather than thriving on solitude--is clearly dependent upon the reflection, renewal and trust inherent in sustained human relationships. Here is a unique cultural and historical perspective on the creative process, and a compelling depiction of the associations that nurtured our most talented artists and thinkers. By delving into these complex, intimate collaborations, John-Steiner illustrates that the mind--rather than thriving on solitude--is clearly dependent upon the dialogue, renewal, and trust inherent in sustained human relationships.
In this carefully researched psychological study of creative collaboration, John-Steiner (Notebooks of the Mind) challenges the concept of the primacy of the individual championed by developmental theorists such as Piaget, and urges readers to consider cooperative effort as a new paradigm for human creative activity. In seven lucid chapters, this linguistics and education professor delineates three broad categories: developing "theoretical... models for collaboration," identifying "collaborative dynamics" in creative ventures and documenting "experienced thinkers" engaged "in joint efforts." John-Steiner considers an array of primary sources and historical examples, such as the creative partnerships between Henry Miller and Anais Nin and painters Picasso and Braque, as well as collaborations between scientists and social scientists. She includes numerous interviews with well-known artists and scientists like Arnold Steinhardt of the Guarneri String Quartet and psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Though she addresses some very abstract notionsDfrom the basis of gender identity to essential differences between modes of expressionDJohn-Steiner's writing remains clear and delightfully plain. One intriguing area of her research that she might have developed further is the role sexuality and fantasy can play in creative collaboration. In any case, this book will appeal strongly to artists, musicians and intellectual collaborators who are serious students of the creative process.