The Contradictions of Creativity
Creativity comes surrounded by contradiction. Society Loves and Hates creativity; values and cheapens, desires and fears it. Oddly, our western world both encourages and attempts to squash those who dare try to create. Those who share their dreams are praised – but then YOU are told you best not dare to dream YOUR dreams. It’s a cruel test for the artists of the world.
Of course, the creative introvert is him or herself a walking contradiction, driven to creative expression while preferring not to deal with lots of other people. At the extreme lies a Kurt Cobain, driven to show off his creative genius, both loving the affirmation of the applause and hating the fame and all the loss of personal space that came with it. Some found Cobain’s torture unfathomable – how could someone that famous and successful not love it?
But I kind of get it. I’m one of those creative introverts. Not as extreme as Cobain, myself. But as I look back now, I think that’s part of why I chose radio as my career. Talk to and entertain thousands from behind the veil of a microphone, unseen. Probably just a coincidence that the first station I worked for used to lean heavily on a Wizard of Oz theme. Pay no attention to the man behind the mic…
Speaking of wizardry – Creativity is both Magic and Hard Work – and that’s NOT a contradiction. Though the general public may believe those two concepts are mutually exclusive, they’re not. When you create something new, you bring into the world something that has never existed before – that, by many definitions, IS magic. But the only way to do this consistently and effectively is by spending time working at it – the final product seems new, shiny and whole but behind the shine are hours, days and years of elbow grease and simple, grinding creative generation, putting together the pieces.
The magically fresh appearance of the finished work is a contradiction – makes its creation seem effortless. This may be why society devalues creative labor – why should you worry about getting paid for what you can make magically appear, artist?
“I love your new song/book/movie, just downloaded/torrented/copied it! What, you want to get paid for your efforts? Why? That song just came to you, took you three minutes to make ’cause that’s how long it is, right? Writing is just typing, how long did it take you to type that novel/script/work writer?” When the finished work appears perfect, new and whole, the labor “apparently” disappears. Magic?
Still… Creativity is Gold we mine from inside of ourselves, and there’s no reason not to keep digging. Once you begin to tap into a vein of this ore it can lead to a mother lode and unleash all kinds of creative energy! According to Carl Jung, the alchemists of old weren’t simply chemists trying to turn lead into gold, they were proto-psychologists attempting to reconcile the opposites they found inside of themselves. Jung saw this internal work as preceding his own psychological practices. Their “gold” was thus the generative synthesis they created by uniting their own internal opposing forces. Much the same is the fruit of our imaginative labors and their contradictions – the generative synthesis we call Creativity.