Creativity with a Small c

I attended an event not so long ago where the conversation turned to creativity (luckily Innovation took the night off). It seemed to me that everyone wanted to claim some portion of it and the list of ‘creative’ endeavours and what constituted creativity are lengthy and quite laborious, particularly when espoused by learned individuals who associate with companies ‘known’ for creativity or at least inspiring it.

But here’s the thing. So little of what is done actually moves people. Very little of it, if ever, means something to anyone and it seems that any passing ‘guru’ or disruptor can claim the space without actually ever doing a thing of value to deserve the ‘crown of distortion’. Observation is a marvelous thing, especially when allied with hindsight coupled with not actually having to do anything under the guise of ‘facilitation’. There are many sites that tell you what you can do to be creative in writing essays or ‘think differently’ or ‘do stuff differently at work’ or ‘don’t be boring’, and yet the very thing practiced by the individual exhorting everyone else to be creative is poor at best. Frequently it is also wrapped in a veneer of self deprecation that suggests ‘hey guys, I’m just like you, please don’t pick on me’! I suppose it could be summed up as a behaviour type.

Open Culture ran a very small Eno video that ‘mourned’ the loss of humanity in music. Of course it got retweeted by everyone who identifies with this loss or is at least sympathetic to the ’cause’. But is this the truth? Is it representative and is it fair? Do we need to be fair or should we accept unmitigated opinion for the sake of ‘being provocative’? I suppose the retweet, especially of someone like Eno that stands in place for considered dialogue, is the most that these creatives are capable of mustering in the absence of any real dialogue. It’s not really a solution is it? It doesn’t seek to discuss the topic and is symptomatic of the person lacking ‘cojones’ to speak a truth against power. Eno commands a lot of attention in some circles, and many seem to gift power to him. So much so that he can ‘name his successor’ in that pseudo-aristocratic practice! However not everything that he says is right, nor should it be blown up to become meaningful when it isn’t. It is just the sound of an old bloke being asked his opinion for the millionth time in his own echo chamber.

It is at this point that I should wrap my closing comments in a cloak of self deprecation, so that you don’t pick on me, but I won’t because what I’ve written is observational and seeks to redress the balance where there is none. Perhaps the goal of media is to always be biased and perhaps we should view those who do media studies with suspicion!

From The Society of the Spectacle (Debord), it seems that proposition 60 is applicable to Eno:

Media stars are spectacular representations of living human beings, distilling the essence of the spectacle’s banality into images of possible roles. Stardom is a diversification in the semblance of life the object of an identification with mere appearance which is intended to compensate for the crumbling of directly experienced diversifications of productive activity. (Guy Debord)


The ‘diversifications of productive activity’ might well encompass the very works that Eno and his followers disapprove of. I also believe that proposition 63 has a lot applicability as well:

What spectacular antagonisms conceal is the unity of poverty. Differing forms of a single alienation contend in the masquerade of total freedom of choice by virtue of the fact that they are all founded on real repressed contradictions. Depending on the needs of the particular stage of poverty that it is supposed at once to deny and sustain, the spectacle may be concentrated or diffuse in form.

In either case, it is no more than an image of harmony set amidst desolation and dread, at the still center of misfortune. (Guy Debord)

I realise that for some the reaction, naturally, will be to ‘defend’ Eno but the opposite requires defence. That music as practised and made by young people, generationally different from Eno and the phalanx of retweeters, might actually display different values and reasons for making the music they choose to make. Are the younger generation somehow less creative, in constructing the soundtrack of their times?

When change happens, something always gets lost to make space for something new. Isn’t it better to allow the space for the new and potentially exciting thing rather than cling on to what never was and can’t be reclaimed?