Perhaps an image of creativity would be useful. Here is a vineyard at Hauterive, Switzerland. That’s Lac Neuchâtel in behind. The 21st Century term creativity here does not refer to the creative potential of the lake, or the creative energy flowing through the grape vines. Neither does it apply to the artful skill of the man or woman who pruned the vines, or the future skill of the winemaker who will help their fruit on their way to wine. Those are pre-21st century skills, and are not what is called creativity today. In their place, creativity is a series of problem solving strategies that use technology to enforce codes of ownership, especially codes that eliminate communal energy or labour costs. These include: the spot-welded fence, a solution for quickly manufacturing a replacement for hand-woven willow hedges; the drip irrigation tubing, a solution for eliminating the need for community water systems and the adaptation of crops to landscape; close spacing of vines, a solution for concentrating minerals and sugars in grapes, on a per-acre basis, without costly inputs of stone walls to collect heat or the dispersal of animal manures; and upward training systems, to concentrate the fruit at one level, to allow for easy bird control, untrained labour, and rapid harvest. All of these are technological fixes for the replacement of human community, human artfulness (dignity in work and its use as extensions of human space), and human labour. Here are similar technologies applied in an orchard in Vernon, Canada:
The “problems” solved here are the exclusion of deer, who come for the growth these orchards replace, as well as the exclusion of people, to protect against aggressive insurance claims and to assert ownership; rapid productivity of the orchard, due to grafting onto ultra-dwarf rootstocks, enabling a rapid capital turnover and integration with marketing campaigns and the development of new apple varieties to build market without having to build quality or flavour within industrial packing and storage systems instead; the elimination of almost all labour costs; efficient saturation of chemical sprays; maximum light exposure. Again, they are all technological solutions, are all called creative, all manipulate relationships to the land by simplifying ecosystems (and creating technological dependencies, a kind of drug culture, as their foundations) and all eliminate common space, artfulness and labour. That is the observation for today: creativity is no longer art. Does it follow that art is no longer creative?
Is it not the recombination of previous technologies into narratives of assembly and disassembly? Are not these narratives called arrangements? Does that not say that the role of human actors in contemporary creativity is to arrange technologies into narratives? Fine for novelists, maybe, but what about poets? If they’re not creative, what on earth are they doing? This man wonders…
This is not a poet. This is a German historian and journalist on the Kaiserstuhl, who is trying to figure out what the poet behind the lens sees. So is the poet!
More on that tomorrow!