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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Rare Creativity?

I often wonder whether creativity is actually pretty rare, hard to find. It's all very well to talk about "creative writing" as a field of studies, but most of it turns out to be very uncreative in the more profound sense. Even a very great writer might at some point just fall into uncreative self-imitation. Periods of intense creativity are also very rare in human history. You can have hundreds of years in which nothing much is actually created.

It's hard to have an original thought.

I'm sure I'm wrong about this, that the very way I'm setting up this problem is question-begging in the extreme. Still, I can't help feeling that this is so. I think that roughly from Garcilaso through Calderón in Spain is an extraordinary outpouring of human creativity in literature. Literary modernity, from Baudelaire through Vallejo, Beckett, and Celan, is another one. The T'ang dynasty...

So the idea is that mediocrity is the norm, and that there are these upswells of something better, from time to time. Once you known what this looks like, it's hard to take seriously a period in which everyone just walks around pretending that mediocrity is something of real value.

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