This rant violates my, heretofore, hard and fast rule about content for this here blog. Namely, that it really has nothing to do with JCHMusic or ‘music’. In fact, I’ll categorise this as “un hommage à Andy Rooney”. So to minimise the damage to my reputation, I’m going to make this the shortest rant ever.
Maybe it’s this Great Recession or whatever but I can’t seem to turn around without hearing phrases like, ‘You just gotta be creative!’ or ‘You gotta think outside the box.’ Almost always this phrase is uttered in response to trying to ‘do more with less’. Sort of a ‘McGyver’ deal, I suppose. In other words, if you don’t have the money to hire someone to do ‘X’, just think up a lower cost solution ‘Y’ using the old noodle.
Well speaking as a guy who has spent the best part of his life trying to ‘be creative’, this has started to annoy the livin’ shit out of me. Whenever I hear it now, I think, “Oh how silly of me! I simply forgot to hit the ‘creative button’ right there on my desk. There that should do it…” And of course I immediately come up with the ending to Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. Or the solution to Fermat’s Last Theorem. And then I head over to the kitchen to discover a method of producing decaf which tastes just as good as the real thing.
The way people devalue ‘creativity’ these days is fuckin’ ridiculous. You can’t tell people to ‘think outside the box’ any more than Red Green can make waffles with duct tape and an old Buick. Any more than you can tell people to ‘just run faster’ when being chased by a tiger. These are fantastic notions.
Creativity is a gift from above. Occasionally, everyone has a burst of ingenuity, but occasionally, you also hear of a grandmother in Peoria lifting a car to save her child. Occasionally a four year old comes up with a melody prettier than the professional songwriter.
Any artist gets used to having the creative process treated like it’s nothing; if you wanna try making a living in the arts it kinda goes with the territory. But what does upset me is that more and more our society acts as though the ability to ‘be creative’ is something that everyone not only can do, but must do in order to cope with their life. Apparently, one now needs to be ‘enterpreneurial’ and to ‘think outside the box’. In other words, you gotta come up with some unique way to get over that goes well beyond just working hard and being a decent human being. That’s a pretty high bar.
Well, it ain’t polite to say this I suppose, but the truth that dare not speak it’s name is that most of us are just not all that ‘creative.’ Just as most of us aren’t all that strong. In fact, most of us aren’t particularly gifted in lots of ways. It’s OK to tell a child that everything they paint is ‘art’, but at some point, they gotta learn the truth about their talents in order to survive. I only say this because ‘being creative’ is really hard. Coming up with a genuinely inspired thought more than once in a blue moon is a constant battle for everyone I’ve ever known or read about.
If we insist on assuming that everyone is creative, then we can also persist in making that gift a pre-requisite for coping with the new world order. And that doesn’t seem fair to me.