Creativity: Impossible, Essential (draft 1)


When God created the heavens and the earth, rivers and mountains, the oceans, the animals, at the end of each day of Creation he rested and said “that’s good!”  Then God got up the next day, brought some more never before seen things into being, looked at those things and said “nice!.”  And, on the seventh day God rested, very satisfied with His week’s work.

All things are brought about by acts of creation; children, music, perfectly seasoned food, humor, ideas, the worst and best case scenarios for every plan imaginable, imagination itself.   Creation is the source of everything we see, hear, taste, value.  

Here in the marketplace of ideas we are free to trade in any creative speculation we can entertain, though it is surprisingly not often done  Events and the mass media dictate and regulate the trade in ideas, and skillful propagandaists frame and shape those events to fit a dualistic narrative, dreamed up by creative minds specialized in influencing public opinion.   Speculation and debate framing are creative exercises like any other leap of imagination.  We view the events of our times in frames filtered through the dusty prisms of history, your view of the past a reflection of your underlying beliefs about the nature of our world.  

It is worth a look at what happened to societies who underwent comparable periods of inequality in wealth, economic collapse and insecurity, increased levels of poverty, crowding, pollution, violence.  There are not many times in human history more dramatically and violently set off as our own, especially when you throw in rising sea levels, increased drought, and tsunamis, and famines, and flooding, and tornadoes.

As a student of history, can you think of a case where radically increased government secrecy and unaccountability were not precursors to totalitarian states?  Government secrecy and unaccountability are things, in the clear light of  hindsight, to be resisted by all citizens who would have a true democracy.

Framing the conversation is where the propagandist, or brander, makes his living.   The packaging and selling of products determines the view most people have of those products.  If we invade a country to save the citizens from a Hitler-like dictator, are we not doing the right thing?  If the commercial and political marketplace are identical then the better funded, skillfully branded,  more extensively marketed candidate always wins.

It seems cynical to view democracy as merely a matter of who has the winning marketing strategy– branding, advertising, monetizing the product, matching it with its demographic and marketing it to them with skillful real-time market research, Johnny On The Spot public relations, subtle advertising– but these are all tools used to win campaigns.   The most convincing campaign is almost always based on stunning simplicity.

Once the issue is simplified, freedom versus tyranny, say, and the idea commodified, sold in its symbolic,  emotion inspiring aspect,  memorable and moving propaganda can be born.  If it bleeds it leads, what makes the heart pump faster is what will appeal to the electoral consumer.  Propaganda, like advertising, appeals primarily to emotion.   Ideas are only used to excite the emotions, so the rationale for those ideas is not always important.


On the other hand, every one who ever lets go to create sometimes knows how great creativity feels.

An act of creativity loosens the chafing chains that bind you to your cares.   Creativity is essential, but not practiced in the general society, beyond a certain prescribed range:  cooking, choice of musical recording, joking, it comes down now to mostly a matter of style.   Creativity of any kind can seem impossible, through long repression, for some people.   As John Cleese points out, it’s easier to talk about being creative than to be creative  But being in a creative state is very pleasurable and working with others to create a thing together is life affirming.

To be creative you must enter the creative mode: relaxed, confident, not worried, not in a hurry, and not distracted by the million mundane details that grind the world to distraction.  In the workshop I expect the kid with ADHD to sit behind the computer editing for 90 minutes without getting distracted.  I expect the level of creativity that comes naturally to a group of kids that age at play.  In order never to discourage it I try to always be relaxed, and open, and not in a hurry or distracted.

That is a tall order, to remain always relaxed.  To keep yourself open and mild, not always easy to do.  To be aware of the time frame, and in control of the clock, but never in a hurry or distracted.  Always to say, when a second kid tries to break into the conversation to be heard “I’d like to hear this, but as you can see X is talking to me.  As soon as she’s done, you’re next, hold that thought.”  All of these things are crucial to maintaining a creative environment where everyone stays relaxed, where nobody feels threatened.  Keeping these qualities at all times takes regular practice to get good at.  Worth it, though, and a creative act, to practice making these small changes on yourself.



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