The Creativity Conundrum

What Antonio says (transcript from the animation):

Let’s talk a little about creativity. The kind of creativity that is written about all over the internet, best-selling books and business magazines. One need not look too deeply into the typical article about creativity to see that it is offered as a panacea to both, the current economic situation and to all of those men and women who need a little spice in their office life. So you may ask: why is Antonio all of a sudden interested in creativity? Does he need more spice in his life?

Well, let me tell you why: Antonio does not search for more spice, but he recognizes that since we live in a globalized world; what happens in my village impacts what happens in yours. So, the construction and utilization of creativity becomes extremely important particularly if, as popular discourse depicts, it can be a solution to both, the personal and economic problems posed by our capitalist regime. Yet, creativity comes with a caveat: the more its application becomes global, the more its benefits are constrained to be local.

Some further thoughts:

What does the popular construction of creativity really tell us? Take for instance many of the best selling books you spot on the Barnes & Nobles shelves that promise us their ultimate decipherment and employment of creativity; they all convince us that we are innately creative and that we can exploit this characteristic for our personal and professional goals – even for our country’s economic success.

Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind, notes that right-brain thinkers are wired for 21st century triumph, however, triumph over what?

On the one hand, there is triumph over our routine jobs, but on the other hand, there is triumph over others (on both, a national and international level). Pink also states that while certain jobs have migrated to cheaper locations, you still can’t outsource creativity (1). Of course, this sits at odds with the fact that we are all innately creative – regardless of our geographic location – and this gives creativity a hierarchical and selective nature.

Thus, we emerge with one of the biggest conundrums, and less frequently mentioned aspects, of creativity: namely, the dialectic between creativity as an emancipating and a binding economic tool. (Consider for a moment what the packaging of all Apple products tells us; their casing states that they are assembled in China – but designed by Apple in California.)

As Marx said, “capitalist production moves in contradictions which are constantly overcome, only to be, again, constantly re-established” (2). So, as long as popular discourse only illuminates creativity’s bright prospects for pushing past established regimes and geographical boundaries, the socially constructed limitations and hierarchical features of creativity will continue to be left in the dark.

Animation created on: www.xtranormal.com

(1) Winfrey, O. (2009). Why Right Brainers Will Rule This Century. Retrieved from: http://articles.cnn.com/2009-05-07/living/o.Oprah.Interviews.Daniel.Pink_1_brain-outsource-oprah-com?_s=PM:LIVING

(2) Marx, C. (1978). The Grundrisse, The German Ideology. New York. WW Norton. Pg. 95.

Katerina Girginova

Katerina holds a BA in Communication Studies from The George Washington University, in Washington D.C. Upon graduation she immersed herself into the world of work at the National Geographic Channel and is a former MA in the CCT program at Georgetown University. Katerina's academic interests include innovation, intercultural communication, rhetoric and media - she enjoys good ideas and great people.