Thomas Frank: The creative class has never been more screwed. Books about creativity have never been more popular. What gives?
A final clue came from “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention” (1996), in which Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi acknowledges that, far from being an act of individual inspiration, what we call creativity is simply an expression of professional consensus. Using Vincent van Gogh as an example, the author declares that the artist’s “creativity came into being when a sufficient number of art experts felt that his paintings had something important to contribute to the domain of art.” Innovation, that is, exists only when the correctly credentialed hive-mind agrees that it does. And “without such a response,” the author continues, “van Gogh would have remained what he was, a disturbed man who painted strange canvases.” What determines “creativity,” in other words, is the very faction it’s supposedly rebelling against: established expertise.
“When someone works for less pay than she can live on—when, for example, she goes hungry so you can eat more cheaply and conveniently—than she has made great sacrifices for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life. The "working poor,"[…]are in fact the major philanthropists of society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stocks will be high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else.”—
“We have sacrificed the old immaterial Gods, and now we are occupying the temple of the Market-God. He organises our economy, our politics, our habits, our lives and even provides us with rates and credit cards and gives us the appearance of happiness. It seems that we have been born only to consume, and to consume, and when we can no longer consume, we have a feeling of frustration and we suffer from poverty, and we are auto marginalised.”—Jose Mujica, President of Uruguay, in a recent speech to the UN General Assembly. (via Al Jazeera)
Wealth is the overriding factor for college admissions, making a farce of institutions that boast of diversity.
Harvard’s admission is “need-blind” only in that it turns a blind eye to actual need. Like many universities, it increases its number of aid recipients by inflating its price tag. With tuition higher than the median US household income, students from families making $200,000 are now deemed poor enough to qualify for financial aid.
We need to admit that our situation is bad, economically, politically, socially. The response should not be to stick our fingers in other people’s eyes for catharsis (the snark/gossip blog model). The response should also not be to focus exclusively on the positive and pretend that all is well in the world (the Upworthy model).
The solution is to be honest and aware, to be critical and tolerant. That is the mindset that will allow us to do something about it all.
Because that’s the real trouble. Whatever the intentions of the Upworthy and Buzzfeed creators, the consequences for real, honest and complex ideas, causes and people are the same: they get ignored or drowned out in a sea of bullshit. The only difference is the flavor: sour and bitter or artificially sweet.
1. Spacemen 3, “Ecstasy Symphony” 2. Rose Windows, “Native Dreams” 3. Can, “Paper House” 4. Foals, “Fugue” 5. Donovan, “Season of the Witch” 6. Nick Cave, “Higgs Boson Blues” 7. Chelsea Wolfe, “The Way We Used To”
“Perhaps if we could popularise through the techniques of branding and consumerism, a different idea, a different narrative, perhaps the world can change. After all it changes constantly and incessantly, it’s just the perceptions that we have are governed by people with self-interest and are not in alignment with the health and safety of us as individuals or as a planet.”—Russell Brand
Wired UK | Report: 'the crisis of what it means to be special is no longer limited to the young'
The groups came up with the idea of youth as a mode, or as an attitude of being…rather than as an age-related phase people pass through. It’s partially defined by something the report is calling our “Mass Indie” culture, which is based on the idea that everyone concentrates so hard on what makes them unique and special that they end up in a state of sameness due to their preoccupation with proving their difference. One of the ideas behind Mass Indie is that it tricks us into thinking we are celebrated because of our difference, when in fact what we’re seeing is homogenisation and mainstreaming of difference. As the report puts it: “just because Mass Indie is pro-diversity, it doesn’t mean it’s post-scarcity.” — Katie Collins