The Importance of Creativity
By Doug Stuber, Visiting Assistant Professor, English Language and Literature
There is a great book by Rollo May called “The Courage To Create.” Its preface says, in part:
“How did Homer, confronting something as gross as the Trojan War, fashion it into poetry which became a guide for the ethics of the whole Greek civilization?”
Creativity has been a sub-theme of certain conversation classes because it takes real bravery to have a creative life in Korea, yet many still do. To be creative is to risk that no one will like your work, that the official critics will gather and put your work down, that you will be poor, that friends and family alike will not understand your decision to forgo the mainstream lifestyle of earning regular money from an employer which remains the same for life, or for as long as you can stand the job, whether it is creative or not.
Many high-salary jobs, of course, are creative, whether designing new PC Games, making movies, designing clothing or being the curator of an art museum. But something unusual is happening in Korea these days that would make pursuing one of these unlikely careers more likely: 27% of the recently hired university graduates in South Korea are quitting their jobs in less than a year. It’s amazing, considering how hard it is to get a job now.
Being creative has always been likened to being a monk in Asia. You have to be disciplined…in yesteryear that meant mastering calligraphy, poetry and painting. It meant having a life completely immersed in creativity, your soul connected to nature, and perhaps a regular tea, sometimes with friends, and a small garden, or large garden.
These days creativity need not be so reclusive, but the best creative types do spend an awful lot of time alone honing their craft(s). Creative people often lead meager lives…the old rumor is that the first painter do die rich was Picasso. Most of the famous classical music composers were also poor at the bank while providing humanity with a very rich legacy.
KPOP music has given many people an outlet to earn money performing. Their level of creativity will be measured by how long the niche continues, but there are signs it is devouring itself, as one band repeats another band’s melody or motif. The creativity part of music is the songwriter, and too many times the songwriters (especially lyricists) have nothing important to say anymore. These creators are constricted by the norms of “popular,” and thus an entire generation has been robbed of protest music, and outlets for driving social change via creativity.
In the 1950s even the poets (USA) held big sway in the culture, in the 60s through the 90s the poets who could transform their words into music managed to gather multitudes and change society. Which creators will be the ones to point out the wrongs of government and the injustice of capitalism now? How much longer must wage-slavery dominate the earth before the creative types scream out against it?