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It is a commonly heard statement that there is such a thing as the "creative spark", that an "unanalyzable leap of the imagination" takes place when a great mind comes up with a new idea of work of art. Great creators are sometimes said to be a "quantum leap" away from ordinary mortals. People like Mozart are held to be somehow divinely inspired, to have magical insights for which they could no more be expected to be able to account than spiders for the wondrous webs they weave. It is all felt to be somehow too deep down, too hidden, too occult a gift, to be mechanical in any sense. Creativity, in fact, is perhaps one of the last refuges of the soul. "You may mechanize your logic," says the English professor to the computer scientist, "but you'll never lay a finger on poetry." (You may substitute music or any other domain of artistic creation for poetry.)

Is this kind of statement irrational? Is it a reflection of a deep-seated fear that even this most sacred aspect of humanity is doomed to be taken over soon by metallic machines, or by silicon chips? Why make such a big deal out of an activity of the human mind which, like every other activity in life, has shades and degrees? After all, the creative blurs with the mundane so much that it would be hopeless, would it not, to try to cull what is truly creative from what is not? Or — is there some clean dividing line that distinguishes the run-of-the-mill workaday deviser of ditties from the Great Composer of Eternal Symphonic Masterpieces? And if so, is it possible that here lies the elusive difference between the living and the dead, the human and the machine, the mental and the mechanical?

With such a "magical" view of creativity, there is, of course, a problem. It would seem to imply that the poor composer of ditties is actually dead and mechanical inside; that only certified geniuses like Mozart are qualitatively different from machines — and that even old Mozart was nonmechanical only when he was composing (certainly not when he was merely sipping ale at a tavern!). Probably most people who believe in the magical view of creativity would dispute this way of portraying their position. They would maintain that Mozart was nonmechanical all the time; moreover that you and I, no less than Mozart, are also nonmechanical all the time. No matter that some, even many, human abilities have already been mechanized or will be mechanized someday.

About the touchy question o