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.)

Dreams are made on

y first graduate school application was due today. With my night job of cleaning and my internship and Catholic initiation stuff I have been sort of busy, but that’s no excuse for not posting as often.

I kind of lost sight of what my blog means to me. I had seven blogs at one point this summer, and they were all separated and stood for different things. I was treating the internet like my numerous notebooks that I have. One is for poems, one is for songs, one is for journaling, one is for lists, one is for phone numbers. Walt Whitman wrote his first Leaves of Grass poem in the same notebook he was keeping for names and notes of his general life. Why separate all of these elements? Why was I hiding parts of myself from this blog? It was all urban planning all the time and that’s not what I focus on all the time. Because if I did, I would either be smashing cars with a baseball bat or bashing my own head in. It’s a frustrating subject. It’s stuck with me forever, it is what I’m made to do, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t frustrate me. So I imported my Pretty Darn Pretty blog into this one.

And I started to doubt the whole “little life” thing. I was worried that it was a reaction to depression, that if I were a happier person I would be more courageous and willing to live bigger and dream bigger. But I’m going to graduate school for the thing I most want to do. I don’t think I’m holding back for anything. Small and large are relative concepts, I guess. The biggest problems of the world are massively generalized. Hunger. Can you think of a bigger beast? We can wrack our brains and beat ourselves out of guilt,  just ignore it, or give food to the hungry people in our neighborhood. People have got to stop resorting to the “starving people in Africa” thing to make themselves grateful. It’s unfair to everyone.

Once we admit that we are small, our lives are small, are abilities are tiny, once we accept our ordinary-ness, we can do a lot. I find that once I break my weeks, days, hours up into moments and live in them, I am enjoying myself more.

A specific way I’ve been doing that is small art projects. I love creating things. I’m writing a novel right now, bit by bit, but in my time gaps between work and sleep and internship, I like make things that are beautiful to me. I’m really surprised at how happy it’s made me.

Joseph Gordon Levitt’s site, Hitrecord.org, is giving him a lot of joy. It’s apparent in his face every time he talks about it. He’s not trying to make loads of money or save the entire world, but his project has gone pretty far (Hitrecord is going to Sundance next year) and it’s genuine.

Adam Lambert is trying to be too big. He’s using controversy as a device to get fame and nothing about his AMA performance seemed genuine. I don’t think very many people respect him. He’s trying to make a big splash by being true to himself, but that’s the wrong formula completely.

The difference between making a big impact by living your true life, making your life small out of fear, and trying to make yourself bigger than you are, is in the core of you, in the daily choice to do what’s right.

I gotta make dinner now. BYE.

Stop the Irony, Generation Why Not

My little heart is bursting with joy…there are now 6 people in my amigurumi ning. One just shared her story in a blog post and got right down to the heart of it: there is something wonderful about creating something with your two hands.

Anyway, I wanted to write about irony today. I’m sick of irony. I’m sick of the effect it’s had on our culture. There is no genuine art anymore. There’s a sick sense of irony in everything kids these days are creating. And despair. Come on now. Maybe that’s why kitsch is so comforting to me. I don’t think anyone in this world has let herself be happy since 1942. That was a random year I chose. This generation is so, so, so afraid of enjoying what they enjoy. Or is it just me? Or are we all kidding ourselves? So much worry if something will sell or if something’s “good” enough.

I got in an argument with a classmate in 2007 about art. This student said he’d never want his art sold in Meijer or Walmart. He’d want it in a proper gallery and sold for a decent price there. My argument was,  how is that his choice at all? And what difference does it make? You can try to sell your art in a certain place to certain people but you have no control over what people will enjoy, or how much they’ll pay you for it. Unless you tell them it’s cool to enjoy it. That’s how hipster happened. The end.

An artwork that may change your life (see blog) could be in a Walmart in Kansas. Or in a gallery in downtown Chicago. Let’s get really po-mo and pretend that there is no difference between these places. That the location of the art has nothing to do with its quality. Look at the piece for what it is at that moment. It’s really hard to do. Especially among photos of the Eiffel Tower in Target.

A little off-topic from irony. But not really. My point is that I don’t think this generation was meant to be cynical and I think we’re moving toward a new, idealistic, optimistic revolution.

Led by Andrew WK.