In the future, we’ll forget creativity’s eminence & it won’t be something we realize we miss once it’s gone. The path from whence we came will be hidden and inconstructible. Adumbrating sensory overload will occlude our path, if we even think to look for it.
Honestly, as dysfunctional as I have been, I miss whatever part of me thought to write this down.
Exponential development of culture threatens to detach us from the aspects of life that precipitate creativity. The nature of postmodernism, combined with desensitization and the pruning of adjunct appurtenance supplanted by technology, all may lead us to a place where it is incredibly difficult to form new ideas. Even distinguishing novel ideas becomes difficult. The motivation for discovery is mostly diminished, as the effort required to identify and demonstrate novelty intensifies. Yet, novelty’s increasing scarcity will augment the rewards for a select few.
λ ♥ Metamodernism
λ ♥ Paraparadox
In a world where almost everything has been discovered, how does one cultivate creativity? There is a skill of creating something without knowing about it. Some ideas are just natural extensions of others; maybe two to three steps away. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a head start on those innovations which are so close to something that exists and is well known. Yet, these ideas will naturally be reached by most people who think about them.
Other ideas and techniques are much more difficult to reach. If you’re lucky, you identify something truly new that can be recombinated with everything applicable. These gems may require excruciating introspection and magnificent insight. Being capable of this kind of creativity is an exceedingly rare skill! Some have a talent for it, but it can also be practiced, improved and understood. It is not some mysticism only possible for eccentrics.
Some artists seem to have personalities that naturally enable them to be more creative. It can be some strength of character that the have, like an inquisitive thirst for variety in experience or a curiousity for understanding what most would consider distasteful. Or maybe some quirk or deficiency that drives the experiences to nurture creativity. Often, one becomes creative out of raw struggle to transcend limitation or understand some challenge. They develop such an intimate, intricate knowledge of a domain because their thirst consumes them. They articulate this understanding by filling their works with vividly distinguished statements demonstrating depth of knowledge about those domains.
Limitations to communication and cultural transmission have been evaporating since the introduction of broadband and pervasion of internet video. When I wanted to learn how to windmill, all I had was the Mother Goose Ultimate Windmill Guide. It was hard as shit to teach myself that. After a few months of rolling around in my garage, I miraculously met a bboy that helped me get continuous mills down. My point is, in case you just popped out of a coma, every formerly obscure subculture from breakdancing to cup-stacking has been spreading like wildfire. In the 90’s, if you weren’t in an urban area, you never saw bboy’s breaking it down, unless you rented Beat Street from Blockbuster.
My favorite aspect of breakdancing? It’s a skill that you can practice and pride yourself on, where the only requirement is physical coordination and a pair of shoes. And maybe some parachute pants.
The internet lead to an acceleration of modernization on par with the phenomenon of modernization itself. By 2006, after YouTube firmly established itself, instruction or exposure for nearly any subculture you could be interested became available over a broadband connection, facilitating the recombination of those subcultures into new artforms. Broadband was the equivalent of strapping a jet turbine to modernization.
How Fast You Gotta Go to Get to Orbit in That Bad Boy?
The speed at which data could barrel through Al Gore’s series of tubes no longer held us back. The next major growth restraints were average time spent online, communication response time and service availability, which were eliminated by iPhone and smartphones by 2010.
When I first started jamskating, from about 2003 until early 2005, I only had one person to practice with. Youtube wasn’t available, I had just upgraded from dial-up to broadband and we couldn’t travel to learn moves from other skaters. So we were forced to work with what we had and we struggled hard to come up with our own stuff. It was hard, but if we didn’t try to create moves, we would have been limited to maybe two dozen. Because we spent so much time thinking about what constituted a move in search of new combo’s, we began to intuitively deconstruct what we knew and eventually created a plethora of new stuff …. Of course, now that I look for my 2006 singles/doubles videos online, they are all conveniently missing, instead of just mostly conveniently missing. Wow. This is not the first time I’ve been scrubbed, it’s honestly $#@!’ing typical. Maybe this is for the best? LMAO. Fuck it, take what they will, I will always know…
… Moving on
λ ♥ Metamodernism
Metamodernism looks at cycles that transition between the modern and postmodern trends. These cycles are like waves that ripple in a pond. Modernism creates the original waves that bring together disparate cultural elements, which were originally separated geographically. And postmodernism is a reaction to modernism, where it is clear in art and culture that people seek to differentiate themselves by reaching further or seeking to combinate elements that others have missed. So, postmodernism is represented by the waves that are reflected off the edge of the pond that mix and mesh together. But, since there is always cultural disparity created by the dispersion of new culture, there is a continual, cyclical interplay between the notion of modernism and postmodernism. That’s how I understand it anyways. Also, IMO, metamodernism is about seeking to understand the trends and factors that create the basis on which art movements are driven and on which art can be judged to be novel and original.
Read this fantastic article to learn more: [Re]construction: Metamodern ‘Transcendence’ and the Return of Myth
However, in a world standing on the shoulders of giants – who are, in turn, standing on giants all the way down – several things become limiting factors for creativity which present unique challenges. There is the sheer scale of time require to learn all the necessary skills to advance a field. This is a huge issue and so is all the repeat information you’ll need to process when learning the required skills.
Yet there is another more subtle limiting factor for us inhabitants of our postmodern world. In a world where mostly everything has been done in some way or another, people have less of a reward system in place to exercise their creative muscles. The opporunity for creativity dwindles and the cost for true invention skyrockets. Our drive to create diminshes, but our thirst doesn’t disappear. Like anything else, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
We’re two steps away from a world where it’s possible to download jujitsu from the matrix – yet, the need for many skills will be supplanted by tech. Outside of amusement or curiousity, there would be many skills we wouldn’t need to download. We can currently learn nearly anything we want for free with Coursera and other online education tools. We are more in control of the design and development of our mind than ever before. But you can’t so easily teach someone to be as creative as the people who struggled to innovate in the first place.
For people to profit from discoveries in society, there are more efficient ways to teach skills and subjects, but it’s one that may or may not foster creative aptitude. It is simple with technology, but not easy, to optimize the education systems on quantity of knowledge developed – though technology never replaces the community of IRL college and school. Yet, this is orthogonal to the knowledge required for creative process. And I would say that there is no set of knowledge which could completely replace the experience and passion that drives the creative process.
Speaking firsthand, in a world where anyone can conjure up youtube videos of any fantastic combination of keywords, I’ve found myself desensitized to what should be truly amazing. We’ve become so oversaturated with access to prime content, sorted by viewcount and rating, that we can easily lose appreciation for the amazing experiences around us. It’s like reality porn, since it strongly warps our notion of what’s normal. It can drive people to strive harder, but obviously may lead to unrealistic expectations. For me, watching some amazing maker videos would stimulate my imagination and simultaneously stem my desire to try it or something like it, since it had been done before. This led me to avoid learning some skills altogether, had I just been willing to work very hard to experience something without feeling a need for that project to be something new.
In my head, a reel is playing my 2004 image of an amazing bboy hitting the most insane powermoves. The windmill sensei that brought me up in the bboy game comes to mind. I was so excited to meet this guy because I had never met anyone who could teach me how to bboy and here’s this guy that, breaking it down for 120 seconds, pulled 200 kids into the center of the floor to watch. Fast forward just three years and getting a crowd that size so quick was impossible. The ability to have vicariously experience anything at any time sapped the magic from so much out there. And after TV shows like America’s Best Dance Crew, it’s to be expected this wouldn’t be such a rarity in Roanoke.
But there’s really no replacing that kind of magic moment, where out of nowhere, life hands you precisely what you’ve been searching for. You just had no idea; your mind had no concept of it, but your heart felt it. That is the power of mystery in life and it’s dying. There is power in seeing something, which your mind struggled to assess, model, measure and compare. That moment is what life is about, to me.
We rob ourselves of the power of these experiences as we sift through videos, tweets and shares to immediately satisfy our craving for humour or wonder. Though too often this understanding lies below the veil of my conscious mind: it is desire for the ecstacy of incomprehensible, imcomparable experience that drives my behavior; to recognize it, to control it is to exhibit masterful control of my mind and my life. And to practice is it, one must meld with the beauty of now and dissolve preconceived maxims or schemas for the world, the experiences of which further inform our mind, all to often quenching the flame of the child inside us.
This is because the more powerful our schemata for predicting and controlling the world become, the more likely we are to lean on the same schema again and again. This results in constriction of variety of experience and myopia and the elimination of dynamic behavior. And yet, the world doesn’t ask us to do this; quite the opposite. Structures in society tend to extinquish this, except in a few cases, particularly for artists. If your livelihood demands strengthening your inner child, I hope you realize how lucky you are.
To tap into the power of the unknown, we have to develop the intuition to evaluate the true value of unknown experiences, as well as their fidelity and authenticity when they are vicarious or surrogate. We also need to resolve the self-restraint and patience to wait for the bona fide phenomena, instead of self-indulgence on a rough imitation. You only have one first experience with something or someone, although yes, one can argue that there are never two experiences or two things exactly alike. And yet, the only way we can develop this intuition is through experiences and by living life.
λ ♥ Paraparadox
When I meet someone, I always try to remember how it happened. I’m not good at this, but I try. Some people’s creativity derives from their model of attention and focus. They simply process different information and notice different things. Optimal social behavior is a very hard problem that requires storing and processing lots of information. For me, that’s a challenge. For others, it appears to be simple and natural. However, if you constantly process and store what is happening around you, you are more aware of the present and you’re more likely to remember the little things about the first time you met someone, which IMO is irreplaceable.
A corollary to this is to actually restrict the number of times you might meet someone new or experience something completely new, since that requires so much energy and effort on your part. Yet, it’s another paradox, since trying to control the experiences you will have limits your range of life experiences from which to discern truth. The only way we can hope to discern a sense of truth in the flux of life is by being exposed to as many authentic situations as possible. Yet, again, so many religions and cultures develop their traditions and social structures based on five or more generations of life experience, so how would someone know when it is worthwhile to seek their own understanding?
As for becoming a master of the present moment, I’m sure there are plenty of other exercises to strengthen your awareness, as well as tactics for knowing how to apply your learnings.
Multitudes of people who are incredibly smart, but less creative, especially in a world where anyone can instantly know nearly anything, may leave us in a place where we can not see the way back. However, if we can’t see the way back, how can we claim the way forward? I view the Singularity as more of a Convergence, or exponential development towards a sharply plateaued sigmoid curve, which may consist of several steps over millions of years. But, with this paradox of creativity, we may accelerate our implementation of science and technology, but then stagnate our progression of it, eventually, as we separate ourselves from our past.
Obviously, we must move forward; our economy demands it. Yet, we need to keep a close eye on our trajectory. Total loss of the factors which fecundate and fertilize to cultivate seeds of creativity may leave us stranded and lost. We need to maintain diversity of thought, so that we can take advantage of the cross-pollination of ideas.
Jesus Christ, think of the bees!!
Otherwise, 3 or 4 generations into this phenomenon of quasi-omnisience, if we don’t expend the energy to maintain an understanding of how we got here, then the skills, traits and seeds of originality may be lost. An understanding of what motivates artistry and creation, that could easily be forgotten. Or perhaps it is fated, in which case, it is all the more vital for us to retain the memory of this future moving forward.
This has happened time and time again in history: people understand the “what” of their history, they may even remember the “how” of the past, But, they almost always forget the “why” in their story. It’s simple to remain aware of the what happened in the past two generations. People may marvel at how the pyramids in egypt or stone statues on Easter Island. But can anyone answer the Riddle of the Sphinx? IMO, the same motivation that compelled the inhabitants of Easter Island to construct their statues also, albeit partially, answers that riddle.
Over the next century, this phenomenon of not understandy “why” will rapidly become more difficult to understand. In a world of overdriven sensory overload, this is already a problem. There’s so much information out there, that it becomes difficult to discern things which were once just common sense. And, even though we appear to be so much more “advanced” and sophisticated, our minds are suffering. Needless complexity in our lives has distracted us through constant overstimulation. And it’s become common to philosophize and “discover” some mode of thinking or phenomenon that everyone used to be familiar with.
You can already see how this has effected us by contrasting eating habits now, compared to 100 to 500 years ago. Of course, there wasn’t much decent medical or nutritional records then and no doubt that poverty drove people to eat less healthy. But if you look at conventional wisdom about what were healty eating habits then and correlate it to the beliefs of an average 14 year old, you might be shocked. In the past five years, our habits have changed and America seems much healthier, but 25 years ago, someone thought it’d be a good idea to load food with transfats.
And this is one example where our modern minds, overstimulated with data and the latest scientific understanding, thought it’d be a great idea to completely reject five centuries of conventional nutritional and medical understanding. No, those people had no fucking clue “how” their traditions worked, but they did understand “what” seemed to work. It has always been valuable to draw generalizations across generations of observed patterns in eating and living habits.
Science seems smart, but often lacks wisdom. It appears to explain, yet often lacks the “why.” Science without religion is blind; religion without science is lame. Ahhh, sometimes lines from TV shows can be brilliant eh?
The skills and hard work that we gave up in the name of convenience also endowed us with invaluable knowledge. Usually this we absorbed purely from sensory experience, milking cows and whatever. We made valuable insights from our direct observations. If we completely lack the experiences that cause those observations, or if an entire generation no longer shares like 90% of the observations or experiences of the previous generations, then a rift is formed. It becomes more difficult to relate. The younger generation has a tough time comprehending the belief systems of the older generation and simply considers them wrong, when there is immeasurable value in sharing our experiences. And in a major revolution, the seniors and elderly often find themselves targeted in the following years, as their experience threatens the young power.
And for those skills which seemed outdated, the youth tends to believe them to be a complete encumbrance. We totally overlook how replacing those skills with convenience leads to a vacuum in newer generations, where there was once experience and knowledge. Therefore, large branches are severed from the tree our or collective mind to which we all map our belief systems and knowledge. This reduces the diversity of mind and culture, which encroaches on the universal scope of ideas available to us.
For example, common agricultural practices are mostly lost to this generation. Robots are our friendly farmers and you can see their perfect circular crops dot the terrain from 15,000 feet. But there are great insights that can be attained from a life working in this trade, or perhaps just a few humble years. This is stuff you’ll only understand by doing it yourself for a protracted amount of time. Someone could try to explain it to you, but the relevance of this knowledge would be completely invisible, if it can even be put into words. Farmers are closer to nature. Farmers learn to be closer to animals, at least they do if they’re not using cruel factory farming techniques.
Sidenote: There is an economic benefit to restraint on cruel agricultural practices, which is that it restrains livestock production to smaller operations. This translates into higher prices and profits shared amoung more people. Good luck with that one though.
In a Hollow Tree
My point is, by severing ourselves from longstanding cultural practices, we poison that tree, culling all the branches to leave just one. In doing so, we stunt our own growth and our fate may be that our great-grandchildren are all blind. Or lost. Or unaware of how they were born into their world? We need to maintain the practice of cultural practices and trades which can be automated, so that we can continue to maintain this diversity. It’s obviously not efficient, but our future depends on our ability to understand our world. After all, we only arrived here by understanding the world around us, right?
In 2030, education will be so streamlined that equivalent of a bachelor’s degree could be attained in less than 10 years, instead of 17. Innovation will eventually be driven by AI. And the more facets of life that are supplanted by AI, the darker the shadow of nihilism will grow. Nihilism scares me more than any robot or zombie apocalypse because we can never be sure to prevent or defeat it, no matter how much progress we achieve. In fact, it is progress itself that strengthens the spectre of nihilism. The more we eliminate disease and poverty, the more certain we are to struggle against widespread nihilism.
Imagine that. The more we win, the more certain we are to lose. To lose hope. To lose progress. To lose understanding. The seeds of our salvation and hope lie in recognizing this early and fomenting cultural resilience against it. In a world where there is no reason to work, we cannot forget the value of hard work. In a world where there is no disease, we cannot forget the pain, fear and regret so often experienced in a hospital or a deathbed. In a world where there is no poverty, we cannot forget the valuable lessons we learned enduring stagnant poverty. If we don’t manage to push forward with this information, we will be forever cursed to being pulled back. When that happens, we may have forgotten where we came from, so how can we know where to go?
So I hope we never forget the value of being creative. It won’t be something that we realize we miss once it’s gone because even if we could turn away from the adumbration of sensory overload, we won’t know where to look. If we forget, we will be lost. As progress accelerates, culture exponentiates, as do its effects on society. With culture, we have the opportunity to nurture our tree to see it blossom or see it curl inward as we become fastidiously blinded by hubris. Which one would give our children a resilient haven for Líf and Lífþrasir?