Creativity, or innovation, is one thing we pride ourselves on. But it is also one thing we should be careful of.
I know I sound like some kind of reactionary or conservative here – which I am not. So I hasten to explain. It all boils down to what we think we are – and that basically the same as it always has been: our bodies and our overdeveloped brains.
But we are never satisfied with what we are and always want to be something better. This is where we can get into trouble, because we can easily end up in situations where we are worse off than we were before – much worse off. At this point we should think over what has happened to us, where we went wrong, and then try something different. This has been the goal of my life, at the end of my life.
I have lots of company, lots of people are trying to do the same thing, and some of them can talk directly to me and my problems – which I seem to be blessed with in abundance. But we seem to be a small minority. For the majority, the careful consideration of our problems is the last thing they want to do. Our problems are so horrible (as they perceive them) that they don’t even want to admit their existence. For them, the only solution is to rush on doing the same thing – or to destroy the whole mess. Or to do both at the same time. This, my dear friends, is where we are – and it is indeed a horrible situation.
I have been obsessed recently with learning programming again, as I have said in my recent posting Once Again, I Fail to Become a Programmer. As always, I am ambivalent about the Computer/Software/Internet (CSI) complex we find ourselves a part of. I am using it now, sitting here in my pajamas in my bedroom. I cannot imagine being without my blog – the technology for which has matured considerably in the last few years. And I use Wikipedia constantly – and my online version of the Merriam-Websters Unabridged.
On the other hand, the new handheld readers, such as the Kindle, do not interest me at all. Paper books, for me, are still the greatest invention ever invented, and I have a ton of them. But lots of my friends can hardly wait to get one – and make up all kinds of excuses why. It seems to be one of those things everybody has to have – and therefore they have to too. Will their Kindles make them better readers, more learned people? No. They will simply have the latest high-tech toy, and be satisfied with that. They seem to live in a person vacuum, or black hole, that sucks everything into it.
This is amazing. We have created these marvelous things, but have ended up being nothing ourselves. We should be putting all our energy into understanding why this is so. And some of our best thinkers and artists have been doing just that.
I have become interested in poetry, at exactly the same time most have lost interest in it. Poetry Magazine had an interview in it recently with Iain McGilchrist, a Psychiatrist who works at neuroimaging, has taught English at Oxford, and who can also discuss the trends in poetry intelligently. I have his book The Master and his Emissary, and am going to be spending some time soaking it up. Things like this do me a lot of good.
On the other hand, my studies in computer programming are soaking up too much of my time – without giving me, as a person, much at all. I have found an application framework (win2py) that is compatible with me – but is not popular with the business world, which does not care much about quality work or protecting its customers – which are prey to all kinds of virus attacks – one unfortunate side-effect of the Internet.
These studies have opened by eyes to one important fact: that much of our precious creativity is going into making the CSI more powerful – and thereby more attractive to us – and thereby taking away our attention from ourselves – which should be what we are concentrating on.
In practical terms, what does this mean? It means that this morning I have to force myself to forget programming for awhile (which is a struggle, because it gets so obsessive), and concentrate on my people studies – and on some real learning.