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Home » Archives » March 2005 » The Nature of Creation/Order of Creativity... [Previous entry: "Custom Flashy-flash (ie - I WANT THIS JOB.)"] [Next entry: "F'ing sick of this shit...I've been done wrong, and now I gotta fix it. Damnit."] 03/04/2005: "The Nature of Creation/Order of Creativity..." listening to: Cake. Shit. It's been a long time.
feeling: like a mental patient.

This is a topic that I have touched on pretty frequently, but my thoughts on it are constantly in it's never really gotten the attention that it deserves.

Hell, I probably won't do it justice here either.

What is Creativity?
To me, Creativity is the capacity to, or the act of, creating something. So what is creation? Creation is making something that didn't used to exist.

That can be argued either way to some degree.

If I draw a line on a piece of paper, what have I created? I've created a line. Most people would argue that drawing a line on a piece of paper is not “creative”. However, in combination with other lines on that piece of paper, the end product would frequently be called creative. So, is creatvity a matter of scale? It can be. It can also be a matter of complexity, precision, or any number of complicating factors. Perhaps it would be better to say that 'creativity' is a matter of complication.

In this example I drew a line. That particular line did not exist before I drew it. So, in fact, I created it. It is not a grand masterpiece, and I will not get into any museum (at least not until I am dead) for it...but it is an act of creation at any rate. Does that mean that there is a difference between creation and creativity? Some people would say that I have not been creative unless the line is pretty. Others would say I would have been creative had I not used a ruler. Still others would say that I have not been creative unless I drew the first line, or at least the first line in that context.

Keep reading, it's bound to get better... [Part 2wo:]

I had a discussion with my friend Steve a few months ago. We were drunk, to be fair, so there might be big chunks of my memory that are bear with me.

The basic gist of conversation is this: Steve says, "Don't you think that creativity at this point is nothing more than having good taste?"
To which I said, "No."
"Well, I mean, we're pretty hard pressed to come up with anything that hasn't been done before any more."
"I don't think something can't have been done before to be considered creative. You just can't pick stuff to do, chinese-menu style. If you thought of doing something for yourself, it's creative."
"?" [quizzical look]
"Well," I said, "If you come to the same idea on your own that someone else has somewhere else on the planet, do you think whoever comes in second is not creative, or that they have not created anything in that case?"
"No. But id they both go to market, I will assume the second one was derivative of the first." [Note: I don't think Steve said derivative. We were drunk, I remind you. I think I am the only one who gets a better vocabulary as I get drunker. wink ]
"Me too, actually, but I think that's just because I am a cynic and so much of that stuff is blatant thievery."
"Okay, so what about, like, cover bands. Are they creative?" [Note: I think there was a memory hole before this.]
"Well, strictly speaking, yes. They put together the show, and each show is a new performance, and so each performance is an act of creation. However, song writing is one of the things that screams to me 'More Creative'.
Like, I would never begrudge a designer using a photographer or illustrator's material in their work, but I do think less of a singer who doesn't write their own stuff."

That's about all I remember of the conversation. I think about this conversation frequently. Really, what it comes down to is that there are levels of creativity. Only the most creative people are considered 'creative' people by other people, and only the extraordinarily creative are considered 'creative' by creative professionals. So, not only is it a graduated scale, but that graduated scale is relative to the position on the scale of the observer.

Replies: 5 Comments

On Tuesday, March 8th, David Cloud said

'However, song writing is one of the things that screams to me 'More Creative'
While they RE-Create the songs that have already been created and performed elsewhere, and they didnt make the initial creation, the fact remains that they have the power to manipulate and add or detract certain aspects of the song and make it a new being within a familiar shell...for instance, a long drawn out guitar solo where in the original song there was none. Creativity doesnt stop simply because the concept or 'mold' has been formed in another way somewhere else. Heck, you can go to Rite Aid or Eckerd and see how creative people have gotten with something as simple as a toothbrush. Is it not creative to think of a new way to run a certain football play? The more i think about it there is a fine line between creativity and innovation. Creativity is a talent, innovation is applying that talent to an idea or concept, in whatever medium you find yourself in at that given point. Yes, you could draw a line on a piece of paper, and that would mean that you created it. Michelangelo carved human figures out of stone. He created a humanesque image out of stone. Funny thing is, you both were being creative. I tend to believe that NASA scientists were also creative in sending man to the moon. And in complete and total retrospect, I am creative by typing this garbled mess of thoughts and delusions on a tuesday morning. No matter how insignificant it is, or mundane, or any other adjective you would want to label it, creativity doesnt have boundaries, and most of all, shouldnt have labels, but us humans love to categorize and CREATE labels and their own judgement in terms of being extraordinarily creative and also being considered 'creative' by creative professionals

On Tuesday, March 8th, Jon said

See, that's my point, man. Creativity should have something to do with creation. There are varying degrees of creativity.

Lately is seems to me that people who make things pretty are being called creative...and that bugs me. There are lots of pretty things. What's so creative about that?

On Tuesday, March 8th, D C MONEY said

Well, you yourself are labeling things as 'pretty' so you are somewhat conforming to the same misguided standards of all the other people. Its almost like you have to remove yourself from any type of thought and emerge in a higher stream of consiousness and let things just 'be' and from that create what it is that your insticts give you. To many people graffiti is not pretty. To some it is. Does that not mean that it is creative? Those who think it is not creative identify and label it as vandalism, simply because they do not think it belongs there, or it isnt what they would have put there, and liken it to bird shit on a windshield of a car. I happen to think that the Gates, the just now over art display in central park was pretty stupid. However, at the same time, i see the creativity involved, and the absolute abstractness of the exhibit itself. While it is not something i would have created or ever wanted to create or ever pay money to go see. I guess it comes down to not caring what labels are out there, or who holds the power to label. It comes down to erasing all connections to prejudgement, post judgement, how that affects your work, and thoughts and decision making and plainly, simply, just be.

On Tuesday, March 8th, Jon said

Firt off, hey there, thanks for visiting, and thanks for commenting.

Secondly, I don't think I said that we shouldn't label things. We need labels to understand the differences between things.

Thirdly, I like Graffiti. It can be pretty. I like The Gates. I like most of Christo's stuff, and it's a very good example of what I am talking about. Some people would label Christo's work "not-creative" or "not-artisitic" because it is not 'pretty'. I however think it is beautiful because it forces us to reperceive the things that it touches. It challenges our sense of scale, and continuity, and it makes you imagine your world anew.

What I am saying is; that is damn-sight more creative than a lot of what passes for creation and creativity. So, although you may not agree with me that we need labels, what I am asking is, "What is creativity? And, is that accurate?"

And I don't want any American Heritage shit either.

On Tuesday, March 8th, The David Cloud Simple Word with a Complex meaning definition generator thingy said

Creativity is the deliberate, inspired action of attempting to determine a different -or - never before percieved act,without ever needing to physically act upon the thoughts for the creative process to have taken place- also- elaborating on, or changing, a former state of cognitively inspired thought or action to achieve a predetermined goal or function, or to simply appease one's own natural intuition or necessity.