This book is positively fabulous.
First and foremost it’s not an easy read, certainly not initially. You’ve got to wade through all this brain science that would turn most people off. Malcolm Gladwell is a much better writer. That’s why Gladwell is a household name and Jonah Lehrer is not. But that doesn’t make Lehrer’s book any less significant.
I guess that I’m troubled by the fact that people don’t like to work. No, let me restate that, people don’t like hard work. They don’t mind working hard, putting in the hours, but if their brain hurts, if they’re frustrated, they give up. But all the great creative work comes after a period of frustration.
So you’ve got to read this book. Once again, it’s entitled “Imagine: How Creativity Works”.
Yes, depressed people are more creative. The mentally ill are a fount of creativity. Did you read the Remnick piece about the Boss in “The New Yorker”? I highly recommend it. Because within its pages, as the news has so forcefully delineated, we find out that Bruce Springsteen is an incredibly screwed up guy from a less than perfect background. The Boss has talked ad infinitum from the stage about his father, but Remnick gets it right. How Bruce’s dad sat in the dark and controlled his son. Made him talk long enough until they got into an argument and Bruce left the house.
But the Remnick article is flawed. Because the writer is constricted by the “New Yorker” ethos. It reads like a “New Yorker” piece. It’s absent any joy or excitement, the essence of Bruce Springsteen’s music. You learn facts, but you get no emotion.
You see Remnick has been working at “The New Yorker” too long.
Turns out the young are more creative. Because they don’t know the game. They don’t know what they can’t do. You can be creative as you get older, but you must stimulate yourself by playing with younger people, having new experiences. In other words, the classic rock artists shouldn’t work with their friends, but twenty year olds. Not necessarily flavors of the week, but those who are not in awe of the legends, who don’t see what can’t be done, only possibilities.
And this is why the major labels are doomed. They can’t see solutions. Turns out those most trained in their disciplines usually can’t. It’s outsiders, oftentimes untrained, who come up with answers. We see this again and again in entertainment. Napster (a creation of teenagers) and the rest of the tech innovations have undermined the creative industries. In other words, the established institutions and players are doomed. They’re circling the wagons instead of engaging with the young ‘uns to benefit from their insight, to gain solutions.
Kind of like those nitwits in the U.K. telling Google to crack down on file traders. Hell, Google can’t keep spam out of Gmail, do you really think they can eradicate piracy? What is required is a breakthrough business solution. But the old farts agitating just want to return to a past that is never coming back.
Whether it be the autistic surfer or the loosening up of the minds at Second City, the Lehrer book is a wellspring of information. And the longer you read it, the more you get hooked.
We’re in the creative business. Without ideas, we’ve got nothing.
My instincts told me not to write this. I’ve written enough this week and I’m only a third of the way through the book. But I felt something. And it was that which I wanted to convey to you. I had to cast away my inhibitions and go with what I felt. My instincts were reinforced by this book. Hell, I said hallelujah when I learned that school saps creativity. If I’d paid attention in college, I’d be a drone.
And “Imagine: How Creativity Works” is just a stepping stone. Just a beginning. There’s more to come.
But it explains how EDM can burgeon and the major labels can miss it. Hell, it didn’t fit on Top Forty radio, they saw no way to make money. Never mind that most of the money is on the road now anyway. Furthermore, insiders have seen the electronic scene spike and fade so often they didn’t think it could be for real this time. But to Deadmau5 and the twentysomethings, it was brand new.
I could write forever, but I’m going to go back to reading the book!