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Artists and philistines side by side... / 19 August 2011

Bernadette Cremin's feet pictured side by side

Bernadette Cremin's feet. Photo © Robin James

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I was sent a link to an extract from a book called ‘The Creative Personality.’ I, of course thought DAO readers might be interested in the article but I also wanted to ‘stretch and test’ my opinion of it and so I hosed down the dusty sociologist in me and conducted my own little experiment.

I forwarded the link to three overtly ‘creative types’ (actress, musician, poet) and three self-professed (loud and proud in one case!) philistines and asked them to send me 100 words in response. All replied.

In short all agreed the terms ‘creative/artist’ were problematic in themselves for a host of reasons. It was agreed that creativity is innate and the traits mentioned were simply human and not exclusive to ‘artists’ it was suggested that ‘tangible’ art actually kills creativity…an echo of Paul Valery who once said ‘a poem is never finished, only abandoned.’

It was commonly felt that the article implied that ‘artists’ were somehow ‘superior’ and the implication of a higher IQ was a real ‘hottie’ The point was made that by calling artists ‘complex’ suggested non-artists were simple. One ‘philistine’ was particularly miffed by the intro which inferred that creativity is the only way to achieve true fulfilment and experience the most interesting/important aspects of life thus implying that philistines lead inferior existences.

Feedback re artistic sensitivity was amusing (even if offensive!) here the camps really did divide and the philistines really put the boot in! Interestingly 4 people felt artists were more extrovert and liberally minded where one felt art was a means for social incompetents to express themselves!

Interestingly it was unanimously agreed that such research is a waste of time and money. One respondent even suggested it was only conducted so as regimes can be devised to control/inhibit free thought and expression! What do you think?

Ten Paradoxical Traits of the Creative Personality is published on by academic Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.