Creativity, of course, in solving the central problems of life—food, clothing, shelter—and then when it has solved them and moved on to the new central problem of life—having something to do—is the mother of all innovation. I’ve been fortunate never to lack for things to do—but that’s mainly because I didn’t exactly have the career path I once envisioned, and turned out, hilariously, to be only me, and have had to be “creative” in compensation. This is why I’ve always seen creativity as pathological.

But I don’t mean that in a bad way.

It is only through the fending off of assault that we can grow. And for life forms, growing seems to be the thing.

As we go through life we build or accrue or attach ourselves to structures, material and mental, that become familiar, and, eventually, stifling; creativity is the force that replaces them with others, so creativity and destruction are synonymous. Or, more accurately, simultaneous. To be conservative is to prefer the existing structures to what would replace them. Often with good reason. Often not. Which is why conservative people fear and mistrust creativity—it carries the latent threat of forcing them into the most taxing of all labors: reorganizing their mental architecture. I guess creativity is good because the opposite of it is not destruction, as I said, but boredom—though in the end we probably all feel the need to build a hut where we can have a little peace of mind, and grow wary of creativity, in spite of its rewards in its season. See Yeats’ late poem, “The Circus Animals’ Desertion.”

When I think of creativity I think of Flaubert or Beckett—the words tortured out of them—leaving a record of the cornered human soul’s only recourse—the re-arrangement of the elements around it in its hut. Or Pynchon, with his brilliant and voluminous mind, together with a major case of logorreah. He has to keep making the words come out (like a shark must keep swimming) because he dare not stop. He is Beckett’s nightmare. Of course, Beckett is Beckett’s nightmare.

Creativity is just the dance you do when life is shooting at your feet.

And has its own agenda and annihilates the creator in the process.

February 13, 2019

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