Art And Creation (Part 10): Can We Kill Creativity?

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How can we kill creativity? The English say that there’s more than one ways to skin a cat, but let’s think about this a bit.

How can we kill creativity? Maybe excessive work can do the trick. It certainly has proved able to do so. Just think of burn out or chronic stress.

However, many artists produce art at a fast, mechanized rate and spend days upon days immersed in their work to meet tight deadlines. This has been the case with quite a few cases in the history of art. These artists’ creativity did not die. The opposite actually happened. The burden of work forced their creativity to pursue new paths. This obviously does not mean that we should force artists to work all day long or send them to the colosseum of the free market and see who survives/burns out. There is no single recipe. What works for one, might not work for another. Nevertheless, there must be an environment which can facilitate the death of creativity, bringing us closer to answering our initial question.

If we look at the same history of art again, we will also see that many old masters worked for wealthy patrons. Creativity often flourished, where employment and comfort were guaranteed. Then maybe the answer is leaving artists without employment security. But then again what about the countless works of art created under unemployment, insecurity, terrible work conditions?

I remember hearing a Persian poet write that when in love, he doesn’t need poetry. It’s when he has noone that he picks up his pen and paper. So maybe art is a way of making us feel complete, satisfied. So if we are always emotionally full we won’t have to resort to it at all. What then of all the love poems? Don’t they prove the opposite? I think they do.

In the field of art theory today, a common tendency is to view art as social. A way to interact with others. So what if there are no others. Will we then need art? Wouldn’t loneliness, absolute isolation murder creativity? The Persian poet of the previous paragraph would disagree.

It seems to me that creativity is s a special kind of grass that can grow everywhere. Despair, ecstasy, loneliness, love, security, insecurity, stress, comfort, poverty, lavishness, health, disease. No matter the condition, there will always be a form of art flourishing out of a creativity that noone expected to find there. Art created in the absurdity of WWI and the horrors of WWII are good examples. Even under the most oppressive censorship, art will find a subtle way to resist and grow, you just need to learn where to look for it. So then, is it even possible to kill creativity?

Nietzsche said that what sleep is to the body, boredom is to the mind. If we are not bored, we cannot think properly we cannot create new forms. Today, we live in a time where boredom is an endangered species. The moment someone yawns, they simply open TikTok, YouTube, Netflix, Twitter or whatever else works for them, and the mind releases the hormones necessary to quench boredom within seconds. But still, even at this time, where our attention spans are getting shorter by the second, digital art is here. Still, even in the silliness and narcissism of TikTok we can find traces of creativity.

We are at a point where AI art is possible and it is possible that even after humanity’s disappearance art will be made by the machines we brought to life, which will carry with them traces of our creativity. So, it can be argued that even by destroying humanity, we cannot destroy creativity. What is more, even in the act of destroying ourselves I imagine that there must be a creative spark and Nero would probably agree. So to answer the question posed in the beginning, there are many ways in which creativity can die, but these same ways can also renew creativity. It also seems entirely possible that there are no ways to kill creativity which suggests that we are creative by definition. Maybe our unconscious, in a Freudian sense, is where creativity resides and that’s why we may never be able to kill it, since it will always reside beyond our reach, but that is another topic for another time.

In the end, I can’t imagine of ways in which we could kill creativity. However, I can imagine of ways in which creativity can us.

One thought on “Art And Creation (Part 10): Can We Kill Creativity?

  1. Antoni, I have to go back to the start of this series, I don’t know how I missed it. I like your queries, made me wonder if you fell out of love? A good question is what kills genius? Or artistic integrity? Why do some periods flourish and others not?

    Like

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