Victus Spiritus


How does creativity relate to divinity?

16 May 2011

You Lot

and the movie scene that inspired the title of the song:

This morning's riff is centered about the creative power of an individual as a measure of divinity. In retrospect it's mostly about the term divinity, but I'll tack on some nonsense add something brilliant about creativity and startups to conclude the post.

Regular readers at Victus Spiritus will recognize that although agnostic1, I enjoy leveraging the supernatural much like any other mundane concept. Belief is a profoundly human topic worth exploring for it's affect on social evolution2. Where would the awe and majesty of the word divine be without belief?

What is Divine?

I'll dive into the divine by throwing a few definitions against the wall and see if any of them stick. You are invited to object to any subjective bias I place on the term, and enlighten fellow readers about your preferred definition of divinity in the comments. I'm in the fortunate position of having readers far wiser and smarter than myself, who chip in with helpful feedback and guidance.

A person who embodies the latter phrase may label folks who speak the first gluttonous, and those who say the second hedonistic. Yet the truth of the word is wrapped within the emotional context of each expressed sentiment.

Divinity is almost certainly a positive affirmation except when combined with follow on action verbs like "damn". Use of the word suggests an other worldly quality that cannot be captured by mundane descriptors, and is highly resistant to quantification3.

divinity - any supernatural being worshipped as controlling some part of the world or some aspect of life or who is the personification of a force (source)

Divinity and divine (sometimes "the Divinity" or "the Divine" ) are broadly applied but loosely defined terms, used variously within different faiths and belief systems — and even by different individuals within a given faith — to refer to some transcendent or transcendental power or deity, or its attributes or manifestations in the world. The root of the words is literally "godlike" (from the Latin deus, cf. Dyaus, closely related to Greek zeus, div in Persian and deva in Sanskrit), but the use varies significantly depending on which god is being discussed.

Don't like any of the above definitions for divinity? There are plenty of interpretations for your eyes and mind to feast on.

How does creativity relate to divinity?

Just about every religion has a creation myth (even cosmology). The mystery of cultural and human origin and the mysterious power of creation are often mixed together in lore. It's not at all surprising that practitioners in creative fields have their greatest work attached with a divine quality. Creative careers range from the arts to the sciences, but the profession I'm most fanatic about of late is entrepreneurship.

The brightest minds I read on the web today are struggling to capture and cultivate successful patterns in startups, yet their best efforts have emptied entire clips of novel systematic approaches and hit nothing but air. As much as I admire the scientific approach Steve Blank, Eric Ries, and Paul Graham take towards startups, I haven't seen compelling statistical evidence that startups find greater success when following customer driven development, agile design patterns, or incubator advice.

When young companies are accepted to elite incubators there are network and signal affects which mask beneficial patterns. It's also impossible to know how successful the same companies would have been if they declined membership or ignored popular startup best practices.

Due to the survivor bias we are inclined to attach deific qualities to successful entrepreneurs and investors. It's difficult to see past prior success and judge whether the individual's decision making process will lead to future positive outcomes. How long will an investment thesis hold? How rapidly will entrepreneurs adapt to a mismodel? Founders undoubtably figure it out on their own, with the help of mentors, punch out of the cockpit, or crash and burn.


  1. My understanding of agnosticism: Believe what I repeatedly observe but with caution, and don't allow that belief to deny me access to greater knowledge and beauty
  2. Belief and social evolution: "I believe doing odd things with c++ simulations at work will lead to a payment of currency, which I believe will enable me to buy food, pay a mortgage, and buy nice things."
  3. As to the quantification of the divine, I've never heard of a holy leader refer to divinity in the following light, "It's over 9000!".