Sunday, 16 May 2010

The definitive, absolute, undeniable truth about creativity

More reading from Brophy's Creativity this week, which resulted in two decisions:

1. I probably will not read Lacan, Foucault or any literary theorist in any depth during my research, even though Brophy (along with some others) considers it necessary.

2. I'm going to look for Brophy's fiction and read it for pleasure, because the guy is a great storyteller.

I haven't read Creativity from cover to cover, but I've got through most of it and the main point I've taken from it is that I enjoy Brophy's creative writing (he's included a few of his short stories in the text) much more than his writing about critical theorists.

I read some paragraphs of Creativity and wonder what any of it means. I know I'm at a disadvantage because I've never read any of the theorists' work discussed; to me it's just a ten metre high brick wall of words with no way around. Shouldn't this mean I'm not 'Phd material'? No doubt some would think so. But then again this comes back to the main argument behind a creatively-based Phd and its tension between academia and 'creativity' (whatever that means).

Broohy's book is now more than 10 years old and many of the arguments around the place of the creative piece in post-graduate study have well and truly moved on. There is money in 'creative industries', which means that post-graduate study in the field, inlcuding formal study incorporating a major creative piece, is well-established in universities across Australia. I've been encouraged to apply for a Phd based on my Masters (by research) work, which included a 50,000 word creative piece and a 8,000 word thesis. Yet to a degree I feel that my Phd will be worth less than one that uses quantitive research, for example, or provides some sort or practical tool or answer to a problem facing the world, like a cure for a disease.

And yet fiction can be a legitimate tool for at least easing (if not curing) many ills. In an article I read this morning, author Lionel Shriver said something along the lines of fiction being the only place where the big issues of the world can be explored and discussed (and she's speaking as an author of her books that deal with 'taboo' topics).

So clearly the struggle about what I choose to research and the 'worth' of my research is largely an internal one. Of course, I'll eventually have to convince examiners that I am worthy of being awarded a Phd for my work. And along the way I'm sure my supervisors will keep me on track, because they want to see me succeed.

At the end of it all, maybe I'll be writing complex insights into Lacanian theory with the best of them. And maybe I won't. But I'm hoping the quality of my work won't be judged on its familiarity with critical theorists but on its creative piece and the insights into that piece examined in my thesis.

PS. The definitive, absolute, undeniable truth about creativity does not exist. Except maybe in a Sponge Bob episode.