Science for Artists

Inspiration and Truth

Reculer Pour Mieux Sauter

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RECULER POUR MIEUX SAUTER. : To draw back in order to make a better jump

“In primitive organisms release of the part from its subservience to the whole cause de-differentiation of the part that is, its regression to an embryonic level and thus to a liberation of its inherent potentialities.”

Planaria diagram in Insight and Outlook: An Inquiry into the Common Foundations of Science, Art and Social Ethics by Koestler, Arthur (Book – 1949).

The planaria is a special organism that grows back limbs, even its head. If you cut it long ways, just a bit, you will get a two headed thing.

“Artists treat facts as stimuli for imagination, whereas scientists use imagination to coordinate facts.”[1]

In Arthur Koestler’s book, he describes creativity and mechanics of art, whether it be for humor, fiction or for a painting. He talks about the power of the pun, the bisociative nature of art and wit. Metaphor is fresh when it has been first combined, the phrase still original and its two meanings still apparent, switching back and forth like a Necker’s Cube. It is important in art and science to start from a fresh perspective, to think about things in a new way, whether it is the visually (like Feynman’s diagrams) or in the bathtub like Archimedes.

One of Richard P. Feynman’s diagrams

“The creation of poetry is a process of repeated “original adaptations” achieved through continuous regressions to earlier mental levels, while it lasts, the poet lives in a state of regenerative equilibrium.”[2]

Koestler emphasizes the importance of “reculer pour mieux sauter.” Carl Jung describes the process of human creativity in the form of dreams and the subconscious. That is where we draw back towards, us dreamers, the creative. There is a dark primitive arena in our dream space that fluidly recombines things we have encountered in our waking life, whether it was breakfast, or that time being frightened at the circus in front of the Jackal cage. 

Painting by Katarina Countiss

 “His [the artist’s] memory reflects the memory of the race; by diving into its depths, and reconnecting it with the phenomena on the surface, he preserves the essential continuity of organic evolution, from its earliest rhythmic pulsations to the latest development of its symbolic concepts.”[3]

Human beings are blessed with the brilliance of consciousness. That consciousness is a way to order and gives meaning to senses and memories; it structures sensory data as useful information. It allows us to flip through our memories like files in a filing cabinet, looking through drawers labeled “childhood” or “last summer” or “breakfasts of my life” from which to draw inspiration and knowledge. We control a timeline of the mind, regressing at will. Many well-versed artists have a slew of symbols and a wealth of readings to refer to, a history transcending the individual’s lifetime, tapping into a collection spanning centuries of references and symbols, some obscure and personal and others archetypal.

 “The fact that poetry and art together with the so-called ‘intuitive’ (preverbal) type of reasoning, all draw on unconscious sources, show that one aspect of all creative activity is a regression to earlier, primitive, or archetypal levels through temporary separation from the restraining influence of the conscious  integrative centre.”[4]

Art and science is about letting go of what you think you know and observe, absorb, stretch your imagination. Original ideas may be stimulated from the outside, but then generated from within, with your thoughts, your special filter, your scope and interest to the unique problem that is for you alone to solve.


[1] p.vii Insight and Outlook: An Inquiry into the Common Foundations of Science, Art and Social Ethics by Koestler, Arthur (Book – 1949).

[2] P.342 Ibid.

[3] p. 347 Ibid.

[4] p.146 Ibid.

Author: KC

I am Katarina Countiss, a multimedia designer. I like blogs, games, art and technology. I am curious about how things are made.

One thought on “Reculer Pour Mieux Sauter

  1. I enjoy some of the same things. Im working on a wrought iron fence using Feynman diagrams for the patterns.

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