Follow by Email

Monday, July 7, 2014

David Brooks, "The Creative Climate": Meet The Beatles?

Some 47 years ago, I kind of liked Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but with the passage of time, The Beatles have become elevator music for me. At age 60, I'm still keen on rock & roll, but my taste gravitates toward The Doors, The Who, The Rolling Stones and The Byrds.

The Beatles? In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Creative Climate" (, David Brooks would explain their creativity. Brooks writes:

"Lennon and McCartney came from different traditions, but they had similar tastes. They brought different tendencies to the creative process but usually agreed when the mixture was right. This created the special tension in their relationship. They had a tendency to rip at each other, but each knew ultimately that he needed the other.

. . . .

But the Lennon-McCartney story also illustrates the key feature of creativity; it is the joining of the unlike to create harmony. Creativity rarely flows out of an act of complete originality. It is rarely a virgin birth. It is usually the clash of two value systems or traditions, which, in collision, create a transcendent third thing."

Brooks's conclusion:

"This suggests a final truth about creativity: that, in every dialectic, there is a search for creative synthesis."

Transcendence? Dialectic? Creative synthesis? Hey, man, we're talking about rock & roll, not Hegel's thesis-antithesis-synthesis dialectic.

A formula for creativity involving tension and contradiction? Cute, but sometimes it is also the product of hard labor over the course of many years, as evidenced by the achievements of some of the hi-tech geniuses with whom I am privileged to work.

Formulas and simplistic rules? Were it only so easy.

1 comment:

  1. Sondheim said something similar through the character of Seurat in his musical "Sunday in the Park With George." Tension. Balance. Harmony. In Judaism it is that distinction between "chochma" and "binah" and "da'at" where there is the creative spark which is momentary, then the mulling over of how it could be realized, and then the arduous work to make the product fit the inspired original concept.