At a time when abundance is arguably the norm in most areas of life in the developed world – from the supermarket shelves heaving with imported delicacies to the information-rich electronic devices that have colonised the collective consciousness of vast swathes of the planet during the past decade-and-a-half – it seems bizarre to speak of acute scarcity. Yet in at least one key area of modern existence, this modality is arguably the defining one: creativity.
With typical creativity guidance searches on popular web portal in the millions per month, it seems as the world is sitting at a desk with a blank sheet of paper and a flummoxed expression. And this phenomenon is manifesting itself in almost every imaginable conventional sector. Literature is forced to draw on translated texts from other languages in order to be viable in qualitative terms: authors such as Orhan Pamuk and Aleksandar Hemon, both so recently curious exotica on the fringes of the mainstream, are now the centrepiece of the entire enterprise.
The general consensus on the Internet is that popular music has been dying a virulent death for at least a decade: what we are left with is endless remixes. And in football, the one position that almost no-one can occupy is that of the playmaker, the one person on the team for whom simple sideways passes are categorically insufficient; even the Brazil national team, the most successful international side in the history of the FIFA World Cup, has no obvious replacement for the iconic Kaká.
Is living in a world where the ability to create – to realise that which was not there and has no precedent – has perhaps never been so rare such a bad thing? Ultimately, this depends on one’s position on the continuua of creativity. The sumptuous insight articulated by Swedish business gurus Jonas Ridderstråle and Kjell A. Nordström – ‘Future success will be about challenging current wisdom and moving your pawn from A2 to E7 in one move’ – has never looked so prescient. But how can a person be or become creative? And what is creativity anyway? These will be the topic of the next article in this series.