Big Ideas and Big Egos

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As of late, my friend Serdar has been on a tear, speculating on constructive loafing to quality and “difficult” work. I’ve come to realize a lot of creative speculation is self-justification and self-aggrandizement. That is hardly creative.

For instance, consider the idea of the “auteur” creator, the wild madman (always a man, isn’t it?) who doesn’t play by the rules. Supposedly their greatness is in their disdain for rules of all kinds.

 . . . but isn’t a great part of this a desire to just not have to play by rules? Many a wild auteur, deconstructed, is a gloss of transgressiveness over unoriginality. But if you can say you’re a troubled genius, you can get away with a lot.

Or consider how we treat creativity as some magical happenstance from outside. That there’s this bolt of lighting or genetic lottery that decides creative power.

. . . but isn’t this part of the desire to feel special? We want to feel chosen. Of course, if you pretend to be special, some people may see you clothed in the wardrobe of an artist, despite your naked lack of talent.

Creativity is a messy way of bringing about order – or an orderly way to make a glorious mess. It’s hard work because no matter what magical spark you have, it takes work to make it real. The reception of creativity is unpredictable, as many a talented person can tell you by pointing to their bank account.

It may soothe egos to believe one is a great auteur or give one license to take the frustration out on others. It may boost one to think they have some unique divine creative spark burning within them. But we only delude ourselves with such thoughts, and delusion rarely leads to creativity.

Worse, if we encourage these fantasies for ourselves, we allow them in others. I think we’ve learned again and again we need less egomaniacal auteurs and artists with delusions of eugenics or godhood. No matter how gifted, such people will eventually have their art be all about themselves, and then it ceases to be art.

I’d rather deal with creativity face to face, like a person, with the humility and unsurety that involves.

Steven Savage