"Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing." Salvador Dali
Dali's words bring colour to worldview's rooted in black and white. Where every word and brush stroke is trademarked with an air of ownership and intellectual property. Trying to hold onto what exists in imagination is like cupping an ocean as it falls through wet fingers.
Our creative freedom is much like the freedom of our western living, it only works within the system. Success and survival are built upon the way in which our society sees us. And so, we are tentative to expose our true expressions, we tiptoe around others creative claims on styles and tones, searching for a quiet space to explore ourselves.
Enjoying an idea, a person, a place without having to possess it, is a rare trait in our age.
We endeavoured to claim Earth until we found an edge; with hundreds of metal poled wings piercing the ground, we dissected space; with lines, borders and boundaries, but we could only go so far. Soon we discovered we could sink ideological flags into the ethers of imagination, claiming colour, space and style; as though creativity was also, a finite resource. Ideas dwell in the source of an unseen mystery, floating around us all, waiting for the receptive ones to make them manifest. So we tread carefully, dwelling on the edge of inspiration and original ideas; feeling out the borderlines between copyright and creative evolution.
I have faced a great deal of creative shadows. My mind, imprinted by my mother, whose own creative conditioning planted seeds, the seeds deep in my subconscious that “no one in our family is creative”.
Childhood is delicate, threaded with undercurrents of acceptance and rejection by those around us, we learn who we are by how our our expression of ourselves is received by our society. The pendulum swings. Either we live in the light of a healthy belief system (knowing our inherent creative worth), we wither in the damaging illusion of the “I don’t have a creative bone in my body” or we are displaced somewhere in the grey zone; where talent is thwarted by cultural patterns of perfectionism, projections and self-judgement.
I have felt a chokehold on expression all my life. As though a plug was placed in the wellspring of my self worth because of the Great Creative Wound in which we are living. For many years I believed that there was a certain way in which true artists create, a certain effortless genius. The language that cannot not be learned, you either knew it or you didn’t. Yet as I have unhinged the shackles of my own creative voice, I have learned that we are like birds; feeding from the regurgitated wisdom of those who have learned the art of flight. You could say that birds who fly on the left wing would react to the idea of ‘regurgitated artistry’ as something akin to gay marriage. But flying on one side of the hemisphere of existence is a limitation, and denying half the flock a chance to fly is a corruption of our humanness. We all deserve to feel free in the expression of ourselves.
Dali may be right, yet
In my experience, we whisper the significant influence others have had in our own creative achievements, as though it is something to be ashamed of. The modern worldview that reveres extreme independence, shames the human need of sharing and support. Everything is separated, ideas are fenced off, creative collaboration often has an undertone of competition; we would rather throw food away than be seen eating from a stranger's plate.
This is the creative curse that is embedded in our culture. We are starving in our desire for freedom of expression, and yet we don’t feel able to explore it without being judged. It is easier to stay hidden.
Not only is our archetypal artist confined to the category of a tortured soul, we glorify mental illness, alcoholism and drug addiction as the aspired headspace to draw upon for creativity. We need to loosen the grips upon what is socially acceptable, or disproportionately ideoloised and begin to reclaim ourselves, the regular Jo, as Artist. In Dali’s words,
“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.”
There is no greater art than the manner in which we live our expression in every moment. Validation of our creative work is important and so copyright has its place. But I do believe we need to loosen our grip a little, and make space for synergy to move us, like sound waves; creating symphony where there was only monotone, creating an orchestra where before there was one instrument. It is the hour to reclaim our humility.