Is creativity valued and rewarded?
Is creativity valued and rewarded in modern society? This might seem like a silly question to ask, when such exemplars of creativity as Einstein, Shakespeare and Da Vinci are held up to universal admiration, but I am led to ask this question for a very clear reason: I don’t believe it is.
It is altogether possible, to live a life being creative in all spheres of that life, but to be utterly unappreciated, unvalued and unrewarded for doing so. There are no automatic rewards for creativity, in modern society, though, indeed, there do appear to be a number of automatic punishments.
A creative person, for instance, will quickly discover that, the moment anything creative is shown to other people, it will be plagiarized. This is so frequent an occurrence that I am willing to propose that it is universal, in modern times: everything that is created, gets stolen – without exception. This has certainly been my experience of creativity. Every unique or interesting art work that I ever created, has been plagiarized, upon being shown to others – every single one of them. The ideas have gone on to being used by and credited to, others, who are nothing but plagiarists. My ideas have, among others, ended up in the works of Marc Quinn, Cornelia Parker/Tilda Swinton, and Peter Blake. You should note that the former was at my College at Cambridge, the middle pair I have met personally and the latter I do not know, in person. My ideas have also appeared in a Nike ad, an ad for the Museum of the Moving Image, a film poster, and the works “of” the far from original Ian Hislop. All of this, without a single shred of credit. By the way, I only make note of those ideas which were so distinctive and unlikely that an accidental replication is remote, indeed – I also emphasize those for which I can trace a line from my work, to the plagiarist, through known contact with it.
I am sure that my experience with being plagiarized is common to many artists, or creative people. I came across a recent article in which FIFTEEN artists complained that Damien Hirst had plagiarized them. Some of them had even known him, in the course of their lives. Isn’t it wonderful how he repaid their friendship? By the way, a set of images by Damien Hirst in the 1990s, that appeared in an American magazine, perhaps Esquire (I cannot recall for sure), are also highly likely to have been derived from the same work of mine that Cornelia Parker/Tilda Swinton, imitated.
Another aspect of this is that creative people often do not receive any financial reward for their ideas or works. Besides the frequent theft of these works, even if not stolen, the work may never produce any financial reward. Certainly that accords with my own experience. As an adult I have been creative in science, literature, art and acting…but I haven’t really seen what you would call a decent financial return on my efforts. Nor has there been enough of any other forms of return, to have made the efforts worth it, other than their intrinsic value of self-expression.
I would like to think that, one day, my life of creative effort will be rewarded, suitably – but I am also aware that that may never be so. Certainly, many of my ideas have been adopted by famous plagiarists, which may deprive me forever of being credited for them. Even if I do receive credit in the end, and am suitably rewarded, thereby, I am not sure that the painfully long wait, to such a day, will be sufficiently compensated for. It is possible that that which must be endured, before any reward, may make any reward seem inadequate.
In theory, the creative life is an ideal one. However, in practice, we live in such an ugly world, with such ugly people in it (see the plagiarists above), that it can be one of the worst ways to choose to live. A creative life is often filled with such injustice, such pain, such suffering, such loss and such disappointment, that any rewards that are ultimately achieved, are far too little compensation. Of course, in many creative lives, there are no rewards at all (see Van Gogh, for instance).
As yet, I do not know if my own life, is going to be one of the creative ones that is ultimately rewarded. Up until now, it has not been particularly beneficial to me. I would have been better off choosing almost any other way of life, than the one I chose, in all material ways, and many other ways, too. I would also have been a lot happier never to have created anything, only to have seen it stolen by opportunistic others, whose names are better known, than my own. It would be worth it, not to have created those works, just so that they would not have been stolen. In that sense, choosing to be UNCREATIVE, might be a happier life choice, if one was aware of the costs of being creative, in the first place.
This world needs to change. It needs to be kinder to creators, and crueler to plagiarists. I do believe, for instance, that plagiarism should be made a crime, punishable by long prison sentences and extremely heavy fines. Were the world to move strongly against plagiarism, creators would find it easier to be appropriately rewarded and appreciated for their creative works. Plagiarists should be so scared of the consequences of plagiarism, that they don’t dare to do it. It would also be very interesting if such a law could be enacted so that it has retrospective force. Many of today’s “brightest names” (see above), would then have to spend long periods – well deserved periods – in prison.
I know, however, that such a world will never be. This modern world does not value creators and positively eulogizes plagiarists (for some of its greatest “stars” are serial plagiarists). The modern world seems not to care whether its favourite of the day, is a plagiarist or a true creator. There seem to be no consequences for plagiarism. So many times, for instance, has Damien Hirst been denounced as a plagiarist, without an idea to call his own – yet his works still sell for millions, or even tens of millions. It is, in short, madness. No-one seems to care for the true creators. Until that changes, it is probably not a good choice of life, to become creative. It is likely that anyone choosing such a life will endure much suffering, much rejection, much disappointment and little reward of any kind. It is likely that such a person will see many of their works stolen and see little monetary return on their creative investments. If a person wishes for success, in the conventional sense, any of the many safer choices, would lead to a life more fulfilled in those respects: be a banker, a financier, a doctor or a lawyer. These choices lead to conventional success in a fairly predictable manner. If, however, you choose to be creative, be prepared to see the world’s true ugliness –and be prepared to fight it.
That being said, it is possible to succeed as a creator. You just have to be more patient, more resilient, more lucky, more tenacious and more insistent than you would have to be in ANY other line of work. A creator who succeeds, is one who has overcome a truly ugly world. Theirs is a kind of unheralded triumph that far surpasses that of any other achievement. Yet, the difficulties they would have had to overcome, are unrecognized by all but those who have led a creative life. That, too, is one of the dooms of the creative person: to be forever misunderstood. The non-creative person has no idea, NO IDEA AT ALL, of what the creative person has to go through, to win through, in life.
So, if you choose to live a creative life, I wish you luck. It won’t be an easy life and you may never reach your goals – but it is a life that is worth it, if you believe in one thing: that to express the self, is the meaning of life. If you choose a creative life, you could, indeed, succeed, in expressing your self, your views and your world – but you may never succeed, in being rewarded for it. I wish you all, therefore, luck in achieving both aims: self-expression and suitable rewards.
(If you would like to support my continued writing of this blog and my ongoing campaign to raise awareness about giftedness and all issues pertaining to it, please donate, by clicking on the gold button to the left of the page. To read about my fundraising campaign, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-in-support-of-my.html and here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-first-donation.html
To learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 7 and Tiarnan, 4, this month, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html
I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.
There is a review of my blog, on the respected The Kindle Report here: http://thekindlereport.blogspot.com/2010/09/boy-who-knew-too-much-child-prodigy.html
Please have a read, if you would like a critic's view of this blog. Thanks.
You can get my blog on your Kindle, for easy reading, wherever you are, by going to: http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Knew-Too-Much/dp/B0042P5LEE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284603792&sr=8-1
Please let all your fellow Kindlers know about my blog availability - and if you know my blog well enough, please be so kind as to write a thoughtful review of what you like about it. Thanks.
My Internet Movie Database listing is at: http://imdb.com/name/nm3438598/
Ainan's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3305973/
Syahidah's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3463926/
Our editing, proofreading and copywriting company, Genghis Can, is at http://www.genghiscan.com/
This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.)