If you're in college seeking a life contained within a "creative" field, you're not supposed to be learning how to do things: you're supposed to be learning how things were done. Eventually you should learn how things are currently being done. Not how to do them. Yes, your professor should tell you what words mean, what these forms are, what film is, what composition is, they tell you the way things are done. How Kubrick held a camera. How Picasso held a paintbrush. These are the things you should learn. And then your teacher should tell you to go and do them, follow them as rules and guidelines. Eventually they should tell you to break those rules. Here's how this was done, this famous painting or short film or something, now go do it yourself how you want to do it. There is no right or wrong, no marketing or consumers or audience, just expression. That's the way it should be, but it's not the way it is. Kids these days want to Google it and find an answer if the answer isn't fed to them beforehand. They think the way Kubrick or Picasso did it is the way it should be done. It's not.
Way back when, a man took a chisel to stone and made his own rules. Yes he was taught how to hold the hammer and where to strike to make the stone chip this way or that, but it was his hand that carved the form of a woman or a tree or something more meaningful. Way back when, people sat down under trees with notebooks or at a desk with a typewriter and they built universes and worlds and dreams, with their own damn rules and their own damn characters, and they answered to nothing but themselves. These are what we remember, this is art. Nobody went to school to learn how to write the goddamn Stranger, nobody went to a university to paint the Birth of Venus, nobody told Marx that economics was more than money. They went to school and learned how things used to be and how things are right now, and they did their own thing from that. Nobody said "this is how you should write" or "this is how you should paint." (And if anyone did say those things, they were the first to be rallied against.)
This isn't romantic or sentimental either, I'm not trying to convince you that there is an ethereal plane that creative types need to tap into. If anything, I'm trying to say that creativity is bullshit. Creativity is a word used to describe things that have become ordinary. Creativity is not something you should care about. Expression is what you need to find, and it's not hard. There is no secret. There is nothing special. Everyone mumbles, but some people learn how to talk.
People don't understand that great things really do come from thin air. Well, it's not thin air, but it may as well be. Ideas come from reality, from the fabric of life, from the tapestry of a moment or the breath of a year. They come from thoughts, dreams, memories, friends, patience. Great things do not come from training or procedure. Expression itself is the elusive prey, not the great idea you wish you had.
There is no Truth if everyone is editing its Wikipedia article. The pursuit of knowledge is meaningless when anyone can not only search for it but also edit it. People say there is no originality left, but that's just because people are content to stop trying. People are ready to blame the process and the bureaucracy. Kids are eager to get high and "generate" ideas that way. Assholes are perfectly willing to splash paint on canvas or a brush across a screen and call it art. Anything on celluloid must be regarded with admiration, right? Kids don't want to think about what makes lines form shapes, they want to be told, they want it outlined and downloadable so they can use it later. They want status updates. They want event invitations. They want friend connections. (There was a time when the word "friend" had no real definition, either.) The big capital letters that once dominated art have all fallen down in our postmodern world, which isn't the worst thing, it's just that we're all lost at sea and everyone is willing to drift along in ignorance. We have pacified ourselves to this point.
We sat in class and wondered what to do with ourselves when asked to speak our opinions; our whole lives things had been spoon-fed us by old people. And when we reach their age, we think we know all we need to know, when really nobody in that position should teach anything. When asked again by our teachers, we sit with our mouths gaped open, not knowing what to say or completely unmotivated to say anything. How did we get this way? Why don't we care? Why do we only care about our steaming piles of tweets and profile pictures and parties? Becoming a networked society has only made us lonelier, has only convinced us that we need more and more and more of things that make us happy for moments instead of hours instead of days. We don't think of things that really honestly we'd be happy doing for ten years, let alone a lifetime. We don't know what we want to do tomorrow. And we always think there's time. Who needs time?
The group used to be a means and an end in itself, a collection that made a collective, now the individual wishes it all for themselves. Everyone feels and is made to feel like their own collection. And we are - we are all experiences and emotions - but we are not self-contained. We depend upon others, and that's being taken advantage of now. What happens in a group when everyone is merely concerned about themselves? Nothing, that's goddamn what. Everything gets negated by everyone else's self-centeredness. People get drunk and fuck and shit everywhere. The great 21st-century romance starts at making out with a stranger at a party and ends a year or two later not knowing why the relationship ever started. Who is this person I'm fucking? Self-realization is when all things end in our generation, because looking inward reveals a hollow space we don't know what to do with. We scramble away from this notion. Do something with that space. You'd be amazed what a little self-fulfillment can do.
Our generation is hopelessly, desperately trying to be absurd, and we don't really know it. (Why study philosophy? It has nothing to do with creativity, right!) Trying ever so hard to believe that human mistakes and poor lifestyle choices are funny because there really isn't any meaning to anything anyway. Trying so hard to stop life from being simple and boring while trying to make every move appear effortless and worthless.
And what grand solutions have people come up with? Networks. Blogs. Parties. Sure, Debord said the internet was the only place left to find art, but that was in the 90s. It's been wrecked. The party: crashed. That which made the network unique, the ethereal quality of it, was quickly washed away by social networks, which allowed people to be stupid en masse. I didn't think an infinite void could be filled. People are stupid; the individual has a much greater chance at being intelligent. But the people have taken over, and not only people, but Americans. Who need to watch their sitcoms right now or need to collect every season of every show that was ever on early-90s Nickelodeon.
I say all of this, but it really isn't all that bad. We're not that important.