Is Creativity Dying? or Everything that Happens Will Happen Today

I sense that in the long run there is a greater value for humanity in empowering folks to make and create than there is in teaching them the canon, the great works and the masterpieces. In my opinion, it’s more important that someone learn to make music, to draw, photograph, write or create in any form than it is for them to understand and appreciate Picasso, Warhol or Bill Shakespeare — to say nothing of opry. In the long term it doesn’t matter if students become writers, artists or musicians — though a few might. It’s more important that they are able to understand the process of creation, experimentation and discovery — which can then be applied to anything they do, as those processes, deep down, are all similar. It’s an investment in fluorescence.

his is from David Byrne’s Journal, an installment about how much money goes into opera and how private funders would rather pay for glamorous, self-indulgent stuff than things like education.  I was really surprised to read this paragraph. I didn’t think Byrne would feel this way about education. I guess I always felt that my writing classes weren’t as effective as my reading the classics. Some people can write poetry or a novel because they’ve read so many. They have an innate sense of how things should sound and feel because they have immersed themselves in the works of others. But Byrne’s last sentence about experimentation as a skill applicable to anything really makes sense to me.

We attach creativity too much to Crayola and kids crafts. It’s a childhood thing, and we are not supposed to think outside the box unless we want to be regarded as ten year olds. Maybe this habit of educators to teach what has been done instead of how to do something is more destructive than I thought. Personally, the works in which I have tried to emulate another writer’s accomplishment have fallen flat. I wanted to say something with my writing, to grasp ideas too big for my abilities. I was forced to read Candide before I was taught to understand what it was doing. After my grammar class, where I learned half I know about writing, I understood literature, nonfiction, and even poetry a thousand times better than before.

When I paint something or sew or crochet or draw, I feel kind of immature and the comments I get don’t help against this. I just feel the need to create, and I know other people have creative talent they are not tapping into. Just try. People are so afraid of sucking at what they do, or they are so convinced they have no talent, that they think creating is not worth it. It is so worth it.  It’s alarming the low self-esteem I’ve encountered in almost everyone I talk to.

A similar situation was with my boyfriend, who has started an incredible blog, finally. He was so convinced he couldn’t do it, but he has more to say than anyone else I know.

Nothing I’ve created has been fantastic. Everything is mediocre by most standards. But it’s a gift and a skill to dive into something and just try it and to boldly make mistakes. I am thankful for every creative soul out there. David Byrne is one of them.

The real problem with our economy right now is not that we don’t have enough money to do what is necessary. It’s that we’re not doing what is necessary. We have so much potential that we’re robbing from each other by sitting in front of the TV. There are solutions, you can think them up, you are worth something to the world around you.

I wanted to post about the absurdity of our society, how at 12:30am when I’m driving home from work, I have to sit at a red light, by law, even though there is not another soul on the road. It just struck me as a symbol of what this country’s coming to. We created all these laws that made sense at the time but they have no flexibility for when the situation changes. What if someone did get creative and wanted to open up a store or an art exhibit in an old warehouse? Too bad. Zoning says they can’t.

It’s more than just having faith in a system, it’s letting the system be an unnecessary prison around you. People have found ways to work around laws, to manipulate them to their favor, with good and evil results, so it’s still very possible to fix things without proposing a bill to the House.

My main point: we’re sucking at living right now. And we totally don’t have to. Once you realize you have things to say and do, that you’re not a talentless piece of crap, that people like you and even love you, that you have nothing to lose, you can do a lot. That’s my Christmas Wish for everyone. (“And damn anyone who calls this sentimental” to quote Jack Ridl.)

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4 thoughts on “Is Creativity Dying? or Everything that Happens Will Happen Today

  1. I like what David Byrne said but it strikes me as kind of hypocritical. Although he left college he is an autodidact who understands philosophy, language, and politcs very well. Additionally he has listened to more music than anyone else on Earth. From other times, countries, and cultures. If it weren’t for the opera there wouldn’t be too much going on in his last solo album (not the one with Eno) which was very influence by opera.

    I think he’s right to an extent but I think he forgets what it’s like for other people. But as another person with high functioning Asperger’s I know how that can be. I’m glad you read his journal though – it’s great!

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