Sunday, January 1, 2012

A creative understanding of creativity

As a sociologist, and a somewhat radical/liberal one at that, I spend a lot of time defining the proverbial "box," the set of cultural norms, values, and opinions that dominate American social life, and then doing as much work as I possibly can to fuck that box up to the point where it's no longer even recognizable. I consider it my JOB to tear people's assumptions asunder and make them question things they've always taken for granted. Maybe I don't live my life coloring outside of the lines in every way imaginable, but I refuse to let myself feel confined by any of them, and more importantly, I refuse to sit back while people try to force those lines upon others' lives and conduct (with the notable exception of immoral conduct, though who has the authority to determine morality is something I'm still wrestling with...). 

I'm sure some of you are scratching your heads right now in an attempt to figure out how the title of this post and that first paragraph have anything to do with each other. Yesterday was my best friend's 22nd birthday and New Year's Eve, so I didn't quite find the time to write a post for Kuumba, the sixth day of Kwanzaa. Kuumba translates to creativity, but not in as restrictive a sense as most of us are used to thinking about creativity (as oxymoronic as that sounds). Officially, the sixth day of Kwanzaa calls for us "to do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it." This is active creativity, putting creativity to WORK.
This can be done in the typically creative way, via some artistic form like visual art, music, poetry, theater, film, *cough*blogging*cough*, especially when the content of that art challenges expectations and assumptions, but to the best of my understanding, Kuumba demands that we explore broader ways to interpret creativity. We must never forget that artists are FAR from the only people capable of creating. Entrepreneurs create economic opportunity where there was none. Community leaders and organizers create political action and social camaraderie where none existed previously; they are creative. Teachers, professors, and scholars are creative, putting forth new ideas and queries that stimulate discussion and action around previously ignored topics/issues. Students are creative, taking the ideas teachers, professors, and scholars raise and running in incredibly interesting and varied directions with them. The man who gives a few dollars to a homeless person creates hope. The couple giving themselves to one another honestly and working on their relationship thoughtfully creates love. The protestor, the person who speaks up in the silence, creates a counter-narrative, creates the possibility of change.

I took a class last Spring for which we read and wrote a paper exploring Richard Florida's The Rise of the Creative Class...and how it's transforming work, leisure, community, and everyday life, in which the author argues that today's young professionals are demanding the ability to lead creative lifestyles, lifestyles that turn a lot of the things our parents and grandparents took for granted on their heads, and productively fucking shit up in the process. Florida argues that by “apply[ing] or combin[ing] standard approaches in unique ways to fit the situation, exercis[ing] a great deal of judgment, [and] perhaps try[ing] something radically new from time to time” (Florida, 68-9), today's professionals are introducing creativity into the workplace and American culture overall; we're on a road to ALL being identifiable as "creatives". And with that, I say go fuck some shit up. Ask questions. Raise issues. Be heard. Hear others, and help others hear them too. What you make is up to you, but create.      

No comments:

Post a Comment