this morning an article with the shocking headline of ted talks are lying to you caught my eye. my initial thought was, "say it isn't so!" but then i remembered that brené brown drivel on which i once spent 20 minutes of my life that i'll never have back. brené - what kind of a pretentious crap name is that? but thomas frank lays out a pretty good case for the pop phenomenon of self-help/business books on the topic of creativity. they're formulaic (like most business books), they're filled with the same stories (invention of the post-it with a few bob dylan lyrics thrown in) and they're not really about creativity at all, but about conformity and societal norms. and that made a lot of sense to me. because i've experienced myself how truly thinking outside the box will get you thrown out of the club, because what people really want is to be surrounded by people who think as they do, not by people who push them to think differently and behave in new ways.
it's an interesting read and it makes a lot of sense to me and articulates the aversion i've found that i have for books on cultivating creativity, without really knowing why i found myself rolling my eyes at them. what he doesn't go into is something i've been pondering of late and that's whether it's even possible to be truly creative and think outside of the box (i hate that phrase)? i'm beginning to think that creativity has much more to do with regular, even dogged, practice than it has to do with any epiphanies. the possibility of developing something unique and which is truly yours or truly an expression of what you'd like to, well, express, is nearly null. anything we make is somehow a conglomeration of influences and experiences and contains grains of them all, rather than being something completely new and unique. even a post it is really just weak tape and a small piece of paper, it's not anything new.
but that said, i do believe in a creative practice, tho' i admit that i do it myself in fits and starts and not very consistently. and i believe in the power of co-creation - where a group of people from different, seemingly diverse fields, come together and put their ideas into one big pot, where they are stirred together and become new and improved ideas. and i'd say that one of my main talents lies in an ability to put such groups together and have magic come of it. but it's unpredictable and the magic is always, always different than you imagined it would be. that's actually the magical thing about magic. to co-create ideas with other people also means being very open and willing to throw an idea into the mix and see it change and morph and become something else that only carries a kernel of what it originally was. and it's there that a lot of people have problems. they're not willing to let go of their precious baby ideas and really let them outside of their original box. i think that's where the dogged persistence and the actual nitty, gritty work come in. you have to keep going and pushing and seeing what happens. just like in real life.
and ultimately, it's why i still think ted talks are a good thing - ideas are floated into the world, consumed by people, who combine them with their own ideas and they become something else entirely. life, it's an act of co-creation.
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always pondering libraries, so i liked this guardian piece by neil gaiman.
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fantastic photos and stories of a forgotten russia.