Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Creativity Journal 9/30/09

Homer, credited with bringing the world Odysseus, Penelope, Telemachus and the Proci...

Very cool class discussion today with Dr. Michael O’Hara.

We talked about the definition of creativity, Aristotle's "Poetics," Ayn Rand and the loss of literary diversity, among other things. On that last topic O’Hara mentioned Ishmael Beah, who wrote this year's Freshman Common Reader, "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier."

Beah has been praised for his literary skills but has responded that he was only writing what he remembered, in his own language. From this has sprung many colorful expressions in his book, including how “the night folds its blanket over the sun.” Made me think of Homer, describing "when young Dawn with her rose-red fingers shone once more..."

On the matter of art and creativity, O’Hara said it was critical for creative work to have an audience.

“No song can be unsung, and still be a song,” he said.

In his view a person who would seek to produce creative works has to acknowledge the judgment of others.

“You don’t get to be the arbitrator (of whether your work is actually creative or not) and that angers us,” he said.

“You can have something that’s of value to you, but if it’s not valuable to others, then it’s not worth much.”

One student argued that perhaps the trained elephants who paint in India could be considered creative.

Not so, said O’Hara, because they’re only behaving in a way they think will earn them a treat. The true test, he said, lies in the ability of a real artist to create a work from his imagination:

“Unlike a person, the trained elephant can’t paint what it can’t see. That’s why the painting elephant isn’t creating art.”

Other interesting facts from this discussion:

- Fewer than half of those who begin their PhD’s complete the degree.

- Bette Nesmith Graham, mother of Mike Nesmith of the Monkees, invented White-Out

- The play “A Doll's House” spurred the women's suffrage movement across Europe.

- Something I might have known once and forgotten: Aristotle divided the persuasive appeals of rhetoric into three categories: Ethos, Pathos, Logos – referring to ethical appeals, emotional appeals and persuasion by the use of reasoning.

- By John Strauss,

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