Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Creativity: Blogs & Balance

I just listened to an interview of a journalist who began his career covering the freedom marches that were a part of the civil rights movement in the 1960's.  His anecdotes were fascinating, but as he talked about his work in the 40 years since then, I realized that he saw everything through a 1960's lens.  The world was black and white - not racially, but in terms of good and evil.  This made me wonder how much of our lives and worldview are set in our 20's never to be changed or even questioned.  The reporter was obviously smart and well educated, but he seemed to have lost his curiosity and creativity 45 years ago.  Or perhaps he had simply limited his curiosity and creativity to non-journalistic parts of his life.
This line of thought led me to consider the creative people I have known.  The pattern I see in my "artsy" friends is that they are very creative and adventurous in one part of their lives, but very settled and staid in other parts.  Several excellent artists I know have developed a "style" which is a constant in an otherwise scattered life.  Most architects have a style of design and drawing which is consistent, but is developed in a number of ways, like variations on a theme.  Imagine the bureaucrat that "swings" on the weekend, or the rock star who has a traditional home life.  It's all a balance.
I found the interview noted above on the internet.  And, since this blog and a large portion of the stuff I browse through each day is on the internet, this seems a good place to make an observation on creativity and blogs.  I remember reading a blog comment stating that "an essay was like a painting, but a blog was like a mosaic."  Now many blogs are simply electronic essays, but it is true that most have the granularity of a mosaic's field of different stones.  Each post is often a world of its own, but taken together, a blog of a hundred posts reveals a pattern that reflects the author's view of the world.  An essay perhaps starts with a worldview, while a blog ends with a worldview.  Or said another way, the essayist begins with a clear idea of the point he wants to make, while the blogger is daily groping around for an elusive theme which becomes more clear as the blog develops.

So, which approach is right?  Which is more useful?  It seems to me that it depends on what kind of world you are living in.  A world that is confidently coherent is an essay world, but a world that is redefining itself is a blog world.  And in the same vein, a person confident in their understanding of their world will tend to write in an essay-like way with arguments and bold statements.  A person trying to make sense of a new and uncomfortable situation will write in a scattered and questioning way, which will mature and develop over time.
And what about creativity?

I would say that creativity is more likely to develop in an uncomfortable, searching, blogger format, but will eventually be expressed in its highest form via the essay.

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