The Gift of Being Human
In a world of productivity we rebel with creativity
Last week I interviewed Pat Kane about culture, absurdity, joy, resistance, the internet, thoughtfulness and play. It was a fascinating conversation which spanned the cosmo-local nature of the crisis, and the inherent collective capacity of humankind to respond creatively.
The greatest robbery of capitalism has been to thieve, commodify and gatekeep our creativity, our imagination; art, now, an asset for money laundering and investment. Bound by frames, our vision narrows in, seeing only currency symbols, numbers, the world reduced to 0s and 1s. Creativity and imagination are resources of abundance, multiplied when shared, yet they are captured by ivory towers, by galleries, by prestige, above all else, for value is dictated not by what is offered but by what can be offered to the possessor. The great beauty of humankind is to be possessed by creativity, inflamed by imagination and spurred on by passion as we seek to uncover and explore and sink and fly and enrapture as if feathers sprout from our shoulders and harps hang from our hips. The great tragedy of humankind is we attempt to possess creativity rather than be possessed; feathers turn to ash and harps burst their strings leaving only an empty frame through which the world falls.
It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. Wealth not enough for the famished beast, it feeds upon the instinct which saw the first humans paint cave walls with visions of the world, the very instinct which sees a child dance, which sees a teenager doodle, which sees lonely adults pluck on guitar strings in the silence of their isolation. It demands we line its stomach with words and with colour and with symphony, with images, with movement, with laughter. 8 billion people we are, stretched taut in the darkness trying to be enough and yet still its hunger grows; the pit ever-widening, ever-deepening, ever-dark.
What poor creature we have made, a Frankenstein of delirium, a machine filled with an ugly spirit, eternally dissatisfied, its open maw and hollow gullet filled with unsung screams, our own, its own. Yet even there, in the belly of the beast, a child dances, a teenager doodles, a lonely adult plucks on a guitar. The way is dark, yet still we persist, still that instinct upon which it feeds, feeds us also. And whilst the hunger of that beast grows with every feed, we find satisfaction in our movement, in our words, in our colour, in our music.
Even in the darkness, our instinct shines bright, illuminating those cave walls so we may envision possibility. Stretched out as we are on the stomach walls of a ravenous machine with an ugly spirit as it attempts to digest us into 0s and 1s to feed its mechanical heart, still we shine with millennia of imagination, still we create without witness, still we move to the rhythm of our flesh. We follow that call, respond to that compulsion, allow that instinct to move through us even as our monstrous value system deems such activity a waste of time.
In a world of productivity, we rebel with creativity, and illuminate the way.
Hear within your music the call of joy, see within your paintings the beauty of existence, read within your words a way through the stomach lining of the ravenous beast with the ugly spirit. Send that call and beauty and way through along the 0s and 1s we can never be reduced to; follow the story that emerges back along the gullet and through the maw and turn to face the poor creature we have wrought and shine so bright its mechanical heart breaks for all it could never dream to be.
© Rachel Donald
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