Creativity's Indigenous Opposite
Being creative can be hard work but it doesn't have to be. Since we as humans are inherently creative we don't need to wrestle with whether or not we are creative but how we can be more informed in our motivations. Expressing creativity can be a challenge to ourself and expressing our creativity can also be challenging to the cultures and sub-cultures with which we engage.
As an artist myself, I observed that I would wrestle with choices within a limited understanding that had been previously established by myself or by someone else. I was really good at being creative within certain circumstances.
Conversely, I also found my wrestling with wanting to be creative in situations that had already been established as "creativity-free zones." I don't know if you have ever showed up with your creativity where it is not welcome. Let me tell you from experience, that showing up with creativity that is unwelcome is akin to creative asphyxiation (and shortly thereafter, creative death).
So what's the deal? How can we begin to tackle this kind of creative death? Sometimes I loke to ask open-ended hypothetical questions to point me in any direction. So, here is my question: If creativity had an opposite what would it be?
Actually, I might have three responses to this question of creativity's opposite. The first and most obvious answer to this contemplation is the self. We, humans, are primary to the opposition of creativity.
But this response is too easy, too vague, and too contradictory. If one of the distinguishing attributes of humans from other living beings is the ability to self-reflect, one can see that self reflection -- especially when distorted -- can greatly impact one's creativity. This is because healthy creativity requires holistic self-reflection. I don't know if the ability to see one's self is attainable. When I was in grad school I reflected on the idea that we as humans could only ever comprehend about 25% of our own selves. Who knows if the assigned percentage is accurate as I just intuited a quantity of knowing. Regardless, our existence is complex and our humanity is directly linked to our creativity.
Still, I think we can find more accuracy in this contemplation through the second, more specific, categorical opposition to creativity: fear. That makes sense that if the unhealthy self is in opposition to creativity then logic leads us to identify the root of opposition within the self! David Bayles & Ted Orland wrote a practical guide on the topic in their book Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking. These authors discuss the various forms that fear manifests in our creative lives and allow permission to the creative who struggles in the war of art.
On this topic of war, I would like to propose my third category of opponents to creativity. Since fear is the opposition to creativity, we should consider philosophies that are motivated by fear as oppositional to creativity. Some politicians use fear to motivate and control, so too do certain religious factions. The greatest offenders of creative freedom are the fear mongering controlling forces of FUNDAMENTALISM.
Creativity versus fundamentalism is a battle that is raging within ourselves and against our best creative self.
Stay tuned for more about my creative war with the FUNDIES and with the fundi within.