06 September 2023

The cult of creativity

One weakness of the pursuit of creativity is that it focuses attention on what seems to you to be significant (which admittedly is the only way you have of evaluating what might be significant), so that the tension between the subject or observer and external (unknown) reality is relatively weakened.

This is clearly why creativity is so popular as an educational catchword. If everyone tries to do some multiplication exercises, there is an objective standard of what constitutes doing it right. People will succeed differentially, and get some feeling of their limitations vis-a-vis objective reality.

But if everyone is told to paint or write creatively, and express themselves, no comparison with an external standard arises in any obvious way. It is a popular educational position nowadays to ‘encourage’ children to write what they feel, and worry about the niceties of grammar and punctuation when they have become good enough at self-expression. Of course, they never do get round to the grammar or punctuation.

Another drawback of the pursuit of creativity, or ‘interest’, is that there is little scope in life for this sort of ‘interest’, and a population of people who have been persuaded that they should despise everything that isn’t ‘interesting’ is very much at the mercy of society. To get anything purposeful done seldom requires a great deal of inspirational activity, but does require a lot of activity of a kind which is by no means ‘interesting’ in itself. This is the way reality is.