The Myth of Divine Creativity

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Throughout their Introduction to the Creative Industries, Davies and Sigorthosson address a dichotomy that has daunted me since I realized that I wanted to work creatively. This is the separation between the creative and the lucrative. The notion that creativity can manifest itself as intellectual capital that in turn can be transformed into economic capital is not something that is hard to grasp…in theory. When considering the work of a painter, for example, it is not difficult to imagine how the Renaissance systems of commission worked, at least on a business level. They would be commissioned, they would do the work, they would get paid. Rinse, wash, repeat. Obviously, years worth of training would be required to guarantee that your hand would be as reliable as the Master artisan’s, but the method of finding creative work was relatively cut and dry.

Now, however, we live in a world of “whales and plankton”, Whale_Chases_Planktonof gatekeepers and filters, of executive boards and producers, where it’s as much about what you know as it is about who you know. It’s scary to imagine starting off a career as a freelance worker, riding from project to project, living in a city (which means higher costs of living) doing work that may or may not be local or consistent or even close to what I want to do. Hello Hollywood, hello food service. Am I right?! On top of that, the very idea of creativity is ephemeral; it can come and go. Inspiration often strikes at odd times or not at all and it may not come when you are ready for it. Stand up comedian, Mitch Hedberg describes his experience with creativity well in a line that goes: “I write jokes for a living, I sit at my hotel at night, I think of something that’s funny, then I go get a pen and I write it down. Or if the pen is too far away, I have to convince myself that what I thought of ain’t funny.” It’s this fear that my best moment is going to come and go and I might never even know it. This, I believe, is a myth. It’s the myth of writer’s block: that mysterious, undiagnosable, incurable disorder that prevents a writer from ever being creative again. It is for this reason, that I found the inclusion of Charles Bilton’s contributions within the chapters to be a vital area of the reading’s discourse.mitch1

This definition, the idea that “creativity is a product of systems and processes inherent and inspired by working within specialized group environments” puts to bed the notion that creativity is this “divine force” whose whim we must answer to lest we be robbed of it altogether and instead claims that creativity can not only be crafted by the individual but also through multiple individuals contributing to and participating within collectives. This seems a much more accurate depiction of the nature of creativity, one that also fits much more accurately with my own creative experience. Filmmaking is itself a collective experience, but one that is often misrepresented as being an individual act of creativity. When we see a film’s credits, we see the big names: the leading actors, the director, the executive producer and it becomes easy to forget about the plethora of invisible contributors who also helped make the movie happen. We don’t think about the gaffers and best boys when we watch Casablanca. We think about Humphrey Bogart. We don’t think about the lighting technicians who spend hours assembling and tweaking their designs, we just notice ‘cool shadows’, oft with little more than a passing thought about how such designs are created. We don’t see the hours of work, the blood, sweat and tears, the cut thumbs and eating meal after meal off of the same craft services table. We only see the polished product that has been made available to us this Tuesday on Blu-Ray and DVD!!!

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Polished product is all we see because it is all we are supposed see, at least, if we are consumers. However, to join the ranks of creative producers, to move from consumer to producer requires a knowledge of how products are made. This kind of content is the content that I am interested in when I think about learning more about the industries I would like to work in. I want to hear about the hours of reshoots and the scores of failed projects that never made it off the ground. When I think about making a career out of my creativity, all I want to know is that I’m not alone in feeling afraid that I may never be good enough. I want to know that it’s normal to feel lost. I want to know that everyone else out there has felt the same way I have at some point. I want to know that I’m not crazy for wanting to have my feelings validated.

This, I believe, is the beauty of empathy. Even if you don’t feel exactly the same as I do or don’t have exactly the same interests, I am sure that we have all felt unsure about our futures, about what to do next and where to go and what decision is the right one, the variables may be different person to person but the feelings are the same. This is why I am interested in the creative industries: because I want to work with people who think like me, who share my fears and my dreams (or at least can understand them) and because, ultimately, I want to be reminded that I am not alone. And that, I believe, is also much the point of creativity. It is through our creativity that we are able to create things that weren’t there before, whether it is an invention or a movie, the act of “making something out of nothing” serves to remind us that we do not live in a vacuum, that we are not alone, and that what we do matters and that we all have a role to play. The thing that having a romanticized notion of divine creativity does is convince you that you are merely a vessel through which the world makes itself, whereas I believe that it is very much the opposite; that creativity is the vessel through which my Self creates my World.it-gets-better

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