Tuesday 30 July 2013

The (annoying) arrogance of creativity


Creativity is a trait: a personality trait.

Therefore, although its overall level and expression can be modulated by self-training and environment - creativity is not something which is switched on-and-off at will: creative people tend to be creative at many or most times and many or most circumstances.

Therefor creative people tend to be creative even when they are too young, too inexperienced, and/or too lacking in knowledge to have any plausible basis for their creativity.

This can be and usually is annoying to those who are older, and do have experience and relevant knowledge (as well as those who do not understand creativity or are hostile to it - and instead want to align with consensus).


Creativity tends to go along with the cluster of traits that Eysenck termed Psychoticism


and one of these traits, related to creative genius, is ego-strength, or confidence - or to put it another way: arrogance.

It takes arrogance to look at an established situation and to respond by acting on the assumption that 'I know better' or 'I can do better' (which response is pretty much intrinsic to creativity) and to continue in this way despite inevitable (and quite likely justified) criticism and pressure to stop-messing about and just get on with it!


This necessary arrogance is one of the reason why creativity is so often unwelcome, and why it provokes frustration even when it does not provoke outright hostility.

Einstein, for instance, in his later life provoked intense frustration at his refusal to 'get with the program' in relation to the ultimate validity of quantum theory: to persist in criticisms of its tenets, to regard it as merely a temporary expedient.

But this stubbornness of Einsteins in the face of near universal disagreement, was of-a-piece with the creativity which made him great; and most creative people are much less gracious than Einstein, as well as being of much lesser intellectual stature.

Hence, unless we actually want creativity, it tends to be filtered-out by modern, long-haul, multi-level education/ training systems and employment hierarchies.