Imagine a Guiltless Creative Life

I stumbled upon this talk while looking at a few different opinions about why America, in large part, seems to be suppressing creativity among its children to favor rote memorization and the standardized testing industry. But before you decide to click through my moralizing post, let me assure you that this TED talk is not about national failures in education, it's about the failure of Western Humanist ideals to serve those brave souls who opt to undertake a creative life.

I have not read Elizabeth Gilbert's "freakishly successful" book Eat, Pray, Love so I have no idea about her proclivities or preoccupations. I do know that I have now watched this TED talk twice in the past two months and found oddly coincidental connections between the ideas it presents and my own fleeting forays into culture that I'm periodically allowed on a weekend afternoon. I'm also willing to grant her a modicum of instant respect for flawlessly pulling off the use of the word "odious" without sounding at all pretentious.

Her summary of the antiquity's perception of the creative spirit came just as I embarked on teaching Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass to my class. For those of you unfamiliar with this brilliant amalgam of fantasy, geography, and quantum physics I will simply say that the relationship between man and daemon is the crux of the plot. Furthermore, the notion of Roman 'genius' adds another level of complexity to my mixed-bag of feelings for ancient Roman culture. Feelings which I've recently been revisiting through HBO's hyper-sensationalized (and short lived) ROME.

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Can you imagine a time before creativity was solely the burden of the creative? A time when we could share responsibility for our successes and failures? Think of the culture of gratitude and humility that might result from an ego-less perception of brilliance. . . that might just be the enlightened world the Humanists were hoping for.

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