The Hoax of Creativity

Creativity is hugely discussed in society of today, perhaps partly due to the rising industry of so called “creative careers”. This can include the more traditional jobs in the field such as acting or writing but also, from a modern day perspective, self employment in video making, blogging, photography, or styling alias content creators and influencers. But are these careers and people really creative? What even is creativity today? Is it all just a hoax?

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Creativity is defined as “the use of imagination or original ideas to create something” and is referred to as a synonym for inventiveness. The terminology is used left and right, often praised in the process of creation. New ideas and procedures are obviously a huge part of a progressive society and in shifting history, evolving and developing, but also often talked about as crucial in creating something of real value. And sometimes this is true, old can’t compete with new. Introducing new ideas can be paradigm shifting and hugely benefitting in various fields, both in societal and artistic matters, it’s the fundamental basis of science and its discoveries. Medicine, technology, ideology, and human experiences are all built upon the result of change, the result of creativity.

However, as the saying continues, new can’t compete with old. Creativity is not necessary in the process of creation and sometimes completely useless for the result of production and its value doesn’t rely on creativity. In matters of for example literature, history proves otherwise. The larger amount of history of literature is solemnly based upon author’s ability to constantly build and refer their works to writers before them; in certain time periods, showing any kind of originality was frowned upon and showcased that the writer didn’t have the knowledge of previous work or the ability to use them. The Divine Comedy (1320) by Dante is the perfect example of this, a piece of literature highly praised for its greatness but still a product of previous work, primarily The Aeneid by Virgil written 25 B.C (which obviously also was a product of previous works, in this case referring to The Iliad and The Odyssey written by Homer circa 700 B.C). And this is the case of creation even today, in all fields viewed as creative. Writing and composing music is always done in the framework of rhythm and a set of rules regarding the structural integrity. An actor follows notes and instructions from the director, who follows the written screenplay by the writer who often adapt and base their work upon a book which I’ve already established is in most cases a product of previous work. But this relationship of creativity is also dynamic, as it has many levels to it. A product or other creation is separated into different aspects, and the amount of creativity used in the process can vary for the same very matter. However, while a creation can be hugely original in its format, perhaps a movie shot in one sequence (which by this time has already been done various times) or a book written in white ink that only reflects in the sun or whatever, the themes of all creation are seldom truly original. This is what usually is referred as genres. Love and relationships, family conflicts, the different classes of society, war and political conflict, industrialisation and technology, materialistic matters such as money, or even creation itself (and so much more). These are all recycled endlessly throughout the different forms of creation, mostly due to the limited experiences of humanity. This can even be said in modern day “creative” fields amongst content creators and influencers. Playing specific games such as Minecraft, The Sims, or Fortnite; showcasing what’s in someone’s bag, talking through a brands new collection of lipstick, or doing a seasonal look book; sharing food recipes, mystery ingredient challenges, and tasting videos. And furthermore. It’s been done to an excessive amount in the last perhaps 10 years, so showcasing the insides of one’s bag is in fact not a very creative piece of work.

So why do people automatically associate the work of creation as a whole as something undoubtedly creative? Perhaps due to the attitude towards the word creativity. There’s a very mysterious, almost magical aura around the term creativity and people associated with it. Singers, authors, directors, actors, and now also influencers of social media are all portrayed as the stereotypical imagery of the creative, often damaged, loner doing their jobs with a wine glass in one hand and cigarette, perhaps even a joint, in the other having an experience and putting that into their works. A magical stardust that leads them in their lives and work that creates wonders, but can also be easily lost. Writer’s block is viewed almost as a disruption of the soul and its connection to this magical process of creation. A shift or error in the communication of the universe. A sign from the stars. (Perhaps they’re actually tripping?). But all of this is obviously not true. Creativity is not tied to specific work fields or people doing these jobs. Creativity shouldn’t even be viewed as a personality trait, since it’s not absolute. No one can be constantly creative. It’s more of a state of mind, that can be used in fields of writing or acting but equally as well in teaching or data programming. It doesn’t even have to be used in the original context of creating a product, but rather in the more metaphorical kind, such as problem solving. Someone can be very efficient at problem solving in data programming, but that wouldn’t be called creativity but rather cleverness.

However, possibly surprising, not being creative don’t equal not being successful or creating meaningfully. As mentioned before, Dante became a literary figure associated with greatness and perfection even if his books were fanfiction of Virgil. Gaming videos are the most watched on the entirely of Youtube with Felix Kjellberg, otherwise known as PewDiePie, on the very top, being the most subscribed to channel of the entire platform. Furthermore, the quality of creation isn’t fundamentally built upon creativity. Quality and creativity aren’t mutually exclusive, but simultaneously not mutually inclusive as well; but rather separate and sometimes combined. Some of the best works in any field are the well composed intertextual creations, filled with references to previous creators. Certain concepts and procedures of production are much more suitable for human consumption, even if they’re not creative. People will also appreciate certain recycled genres in much larger amount than they care for new. Stories of love have always existed and will probably never die, but books or movies about robot invasions are a fairly new invention due to technology advancement that also might collapse with further advancement. Repetitiveness isn’t as negative as it might appear, for example songs about selfies will definitely, hopefully, die out.

Let’s reserve the label of creativity for the truly creative, not for elitism but for logic and for dismantling the stigma around creating; for the fear of creating in a world that demands constant creativity even though it’s never a necessity but rather a unwritten law. And let’s scrap the idea that some people are naturally creative and praised beyond the statuses of Gods because of it. Even Apollo, the actual God of music, probably wrote his pieces and performed not solemnly creatively, but rather based upon a set rules of music. Be like Apollo. Create both creatively and uncreatively. Let’s raise a glass for that, to the hoax of creativity!



The Power of Moral

In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2014) the author Yuval Noah Harari claims that the fundamental reason humans has established their place on top of not only the food chain but enslaving the entire planet to their advantage, is the human only ability of imagination. All species of animals can work together in groups, but only up until the membership of the group reaches the mark of 150 individuals (depending on the specific species). However with imagination, the idea of a social construct, such as a company or a nationality, humans have the advantage of crossing that mark of 150 members, and are able to trust and work together in spirit of the construct in a much larger scale. This is the fundament of the existence of any kind of construction today, the nations, laws, and social norms all function in today’s society because all accept the imagination of that they exist.

Another, perhaps equally important, aspect to why society as a concept still works, regardless of personal believes, is the usage of moral. The dichotomy of the good and the bad. With everything humans encounter comes a moral code, even if the actual matter is neutral. For example, the action of having sex is neutral, however humans have associated it with a strong morality. A lot of times having and enjoying sex is punished by feelings of guilt and shame, the activity can be seen as disgraceful or even disgusting, and ultimately being categorized as bad. So regardless of individuals’ personal opinions on sex, humanity has used the tool of moral to collectively silence anything regarding the matter. Similarly to Harari’s explanation of imagination’s importance to society, morality and the dichotomy of good and bad is also as configuring to the civilisation of humankind.

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Importantly noted, imagination and morality are perhaps in their nature separated, but in society they thrive of each other, along each other, and because of each other. The result of human imagination creates systematic order, which morality solidifies in the human collectives’ mindset, which can be interpreted as both immensely damaging and, actually, freeing and fulfilling. They create society as humans know it today, in its absurdity but also in its sanity. The imagination of law forces people into submission to act or restrain to do so, and morality strengthens this. People choose not to act if law prevents it, but thinks of the action accordingly to the morality attached to it. For example, most people choose not to steal from others because they can be punished for proceeding it but they also would never choose to do so even if told they could because of the moral code of it (“thou shalt not steal”). Morality also play a huge role in emotional matters, since people in this example also would restrain from stealing even if it benefited themselves due to emotions such as empathy. And while the moral debate of stealing (or anything, really) is a never ending black hole of philosophical thinking, supposedly most people don’t mind following this order of moral since society arguably benefits from it. However, to determine what moral code benefit society is another moral discussion in itself, with no definitive answers. While legalising and respecting all people regardless of socioeconomic status is a given for some people, it is seen as the biggest of sins for others, a disputation created by different morality.  

Nonetheless, as with everything, both the imagination and morality undergo immense change. Laws and structures change, morality as well. In a democratic nation people are responsible for electing the path of change regarding politics, law, and societal structures, and most people happily believe in voting, but most of those people might also be newcomers to trying to alternate morality, due to feelings of shame. Talking openly about one’s experiences with matters morality forbids or associate with shame and/or guilt feels hugely personal and too intimate, and living fully accordingly to the inner self (a highly debatable terminology, feeling rather too spiritual for my like) is rare. However, if democracy is ever so interesting to preserve a shift is desperately needed. The revolution of politics is dependent on morality to also undergo a transformation, as, as stated earlier, they thrive off each other. With a shift of morality humankind could finally, as a whole, accept and respect people regardless of socioeconomic status, end weaponry war to instead lead global discussions in situations of disputation, and radically change society to better the environment rather than destroying the planet. Because actions like these require massive political reformations, that in a democratic state will not be put into action unless people choose to vote with these matters in mind. If voting matters, altering morality must as well.