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Author Topic: Alain Briot's Reflections #8  (Read 39187 times)
Chris_T
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« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2007, 01:25:36 PM »
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You bring out some good points there and, in the UK, there is also a tendency for Photography clubs to be more third age than youthful. Often containing a fiercely opinionated elder class that are not open to new ideas and ways of working.
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The same holds true in the US. These geezers (BTW, I'm one also.) seem to be more interested being in *control* over anything else. Perhaps at their stage of life, the club is the only place where they can do so. Among the many things they control, nothing is more important to them than the membership dues. While some clubs do offer members a chance to provide inputs on programs, etc., I know of none that will opennly discuss how the dues should be budgeted. Clubs in general do not publish annual budget reports or holdings. A local club happens to hold a huge endowment from a generous soul and chooses not to inform its members. Meanwhile they want to raise the membership dues. Go figure. The dues amount is insignificant, but *how* they are being spent should be transparent.
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2007, 02:26:59 PM »
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Seeing beautiful, even great images, in a well established way in a well established genre is not creativity. It is competency. True creativity (or creativity with a capital C as Russell said) breaks norms, established traditions and ways of seeing.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2007, 02:40:19 PM by Kirk Gittings » Logged

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« Reply #22 on: August 20, 2007, 02:45:48 PM »
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Seeing beautiful, even great images, in a well established way in a well established genre is not creativity. It is competency. True creativity (or creativity with a capital C as Russell said) breaks norms, established traditions and ways of seeing.
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The (excellent) author Neil Gaiman once attended an elocution class.  When the teacher noticed him trying to do the most outrageous accents, she told him, "Neil, dear, before you can be eccentric, you need to know where the center is".

I agree that the camera clubs cannot teach Creativity (if it can be taught at all), but they can (if well executed) give the knowledge and competence that can turn the create impulse into something real.

-Lars
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russell a
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« Reply #23 on: August 20, 2007, 03:06:40 PM »
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Well said. Contests seem to be the main stay of all photo clubs. Why? If you are aware of their problems, why not get rid of them? After all, you are in the US, and certainly should know the executive privileges of a president by now.
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Even if it were possible for my little presidency to emulate the unilateralism and arrogance to which you allude, I would resist.  And yes, if left to me, I would have tossed all contests but there was so much interest on the part of a traditional subset of the club that we compromised on a reduced number.  Recoding DNA can only be done a gene or two at a time.  As to why they are popular, there are those for whom the game of conforming to a set of rules and receiving an award for doing so provides validation.  Others chafe at taking what becomes "other people's photos" (OPP).  I said ours is a diversely populated club.  It's interesting to see how the dynamics play out.
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Gordon Buck
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« Reply #24 on: August 20, 2007, 03:15:12 PM »
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Our club website is http://www.laphotosociety.com

We have monthly competition; it's described on the website.  We've recently changed the judging method.  Everyone present (including guests) gets tokens:  blue for 1st place, red for second, white for third.  Each person votes for their choices by dropping a token into a box by the picture.  Since we typically have 40 to 60 people present, the quantity of votes cast outweighs personal feelings, friendships, prejudices, etc (we hope).  A sort of "wisdom of the crowds" approach.  Seems a bit hokie but, at the very least, everyone gets involved and really enjoys the process.  The voting method has also solved the problem of obtaining qualified judges and speeds up the process of determining the winning pictures.
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Rob C
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« Reply #25 on: August 21, 2007, 10:40:40 AM »
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Chris T

Your quotation of Andreas Feininger was pretty close to what I tend to think too, but the thing is, there should be no need to knock clubs. They are what they are and should simply be accepted or rejected as such. I´ve been guilty of such bashing myself, but I have concluded that it is misplaced; there is no legal obligation to join.

The real problem, which I think is what we are probably all thinking about here, is something more specific: whether creativity can be taught. The answer is that it cannot be taught. As I´ve pointed out already in this thread, all one can teach another person with less knowledge than one has, is the mechanics of going from point A to point B. That has zero to do with creativity.

It´s my opinion that things will probably get worse as we lose more magazines or they downmarket to survive. My memory goes back to the 50s when Popular Photography would put out two annuals: Popular Photography Annual and also Popular Photography Color Annual. Those two publications were an immense inspiration to me, even though I was still at school. They introduced me to the greats of photography as did another magazine published in Britain, called, simply, Photography (this was edited by Norman Hall). Where are these today? Pop Photo has turned into something I have bought just once recently for old-time´s sake - US Camera? Modern Photography? well, the deaths or take-overs tell their own stories.

I see no contemporary sources for people to be inspired, other than the websites of photographers´agents, where the possibility of one doing much in photography that measures up to the standards in some of those is practically nil. It is all team production now and the photographer but a cog in a bloody great wheel of supergloss production. (I do refer primarily to model-related work.)

To tell you the truth, inspiration can´t exist without the related quality of creativity being present in the recipient of that inspiration. Without it, all you can have is ´I wish I could do it too`, which is not inspiration but frustration. If the creativity exists, it will fight its way out regardles of external problems. Let´s face it, most photographers of note had a darn long fight to make it - the ones who simply had the cash to join the game also had to have a spark or they would have fallen foul of the old chestnut: the easiest way to make a small fortune in photography is to start with a big one.

Ciao - Rob C
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« Reply #26 on: August 21, 2007, 12:59:12 PM »
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I see no contemporary sources for people to be inspired, other than the websites of photographers´agents, where the possibility of one doing much in photography that measures up to the standards in some of those is practically nil. It is all team production now and the photographer but a cog in a bloody great wheel of supergloss production. (I do refer primarily to model-related work.)

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Not sure where you are exactly coming from on that one. IMHO there is far more opportunity to come across inspiring images than ever before. Go back 5 years and only a small cotterie of Canadians would ever have heard of Michael Reichmann, as it is his fame now precedes him...and many others that wouldn't have received global exposure as well.

If you want inspiration you can go to any of the photo blogs, flickr, the stock image libraries, the news websites (CNN, BBC, Reuters, Getty, AP, AFP, etc...). There are no shortage of sources for images of all types, tastes and levels of creativity. It's not as if you have to look very far.

Creativity is the result of an inspired journey...if you don't follow the path, or loose your way, then you ain't going to get it.
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« Reply #27 on: August 21, 2007, 01:30:38 PM »
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Not sure where you are exactly coming from on that one. IMHO there is far more opportunity to come across inspiring images than ever before. ...

If you want inspiration you can go to any of the photo blogs, flickr, the stock image libraries, the news websites (CNN, BBC, Reuters, Getty, AP, AFP, etc...). There are no shortage of sources for images of all types, tastes and levels of creativity. It's not as if you have to look very far.

Creativity is the result of an inspired journey...if you don't follow the path, or loose your way, then you ain't going to get it.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=134573\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Very true.  To be creative it is necessary to look forward, not backwards, and to say "I can" not "I cannot".
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Alain Briot
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Rob C
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« Reply #28 on: August 21, 2007, 02:51:01 PM »
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Not sure where you are exactly coming from on that one. IMHO there is far more opportunity to come across inspiring images than ever before. Go back 5 years and only a small cotterie of Canadians would ever have heard of Michael Reichmann, as it is his fame now precedes him...and many others that wouldn't have received global exposure as well.

If you want inspiration you can go to any of the photo blogs, flickr, the stock image libraries, the news websites (CNN, BBC, Reuters, Getty, AP, AFP, etc...). There are no shortage of sources for images of all types, tastes and levels of creativity. It's not as if you have to look very far.

Creativity is the result of an inspired journey...if you don't follow the path, or loose your way, then you ain't going to get it.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=134573\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yes, you have a point, of course, and perhaps the stock librares turn you on. I was with Tony Stone for quite a few years (became Getty´s prize - Stone, not I!) and even then I used to take professional pleasure from Image Bank´s offerings (another casualty to the same brand of globalisation...) so I don´t think I need instruction from anybody about that industry, if such was intended, of which I´m not quite sure.

But two things:
a. I don´t think I wrote here that I was particularly feeling without the creative spark;
b. creativity is most certainly not the product of following ANY path or journey. If you are creative it will out, no matter how tough it might be or anything else which life might throw at you. It is the START of the journey of your life, not the product. Without it, you might as well join those supermodels in bed untill somebody offers you the 10,000 bucks to get up. Or out, as the case might be.

But those current professional examples that you quoted are not there to tease your juices out; they are there to sell something to somebody and that you look at them for the images is neither here nor there, from the busines point of view, you don´t figure at all. On the other hand, those olde worlde magazines were very much designed for the lover of photography; the images were what it was about and they were chosen because they were just so outstanding for their time. The new magazines, from the minute they start to sell trips to the moon - okay, ´exotic´locations here on this poor old Earth, sponsored by brand X or Y, the alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear. That´s just another commodity wrapped up in dreams, just like watching Angelina or Brad, perhaps, except that you get to pay more so the buzz is bigger. But the creative payoff? Right.

But then, I´m sure not trying to sell anybody a philosophy - not trying to flog anybody anything - just one old guy´s opinion which you are at liberty to ignore at your pleasure.

Ciao - Rob C
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #29 on: August 21, 2007, 04:07:25 PM »
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b. creativity is most certainly not the product of following ANY path or journey. If you are creative it will out, no matter how tough it might be or anything else which life might throw at you. It is the START of the journey of your life, not the product.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=134610\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Interesting comment. If creativity is the start of the journey then are you implying that people are either born creative or not as the case may be.

If someone is not initially creative but over the course of their life becomes creative what is the path that brings enlightenment?

Is someone who is not born creative forever doomed to repeating the works of others? In which case should 99% of this boards readers pack up their cameras and go home as they will never produce a creative photograph in their life?

If there is no path to creativity and people are not born creative then does it strike at random and to the lucky few? Can I increase my luck of being struck?

I'm not disagreeing with what you have written, but posting questions that arise as a result of you postulation.
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« Reply #30 on: August 21, 2007, 04:37:23 PM »
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Interesting comment. If creativity is the start of the journey then are you implying that people are either born creative or not as the case may be.

If someone is not initially creative but over the course of their life becomes creative what is the path that brings enlightenment?

Is someone who is not born creative forever doomed to repeating the works of others? In which case should 99% of this boards readers pack up their cameras and go home as they will never produce a creative photograph in their life?

If there is no path to creativity and people are not born creative then does it strike at random and to the lucky few? Can I increase my luck of being struck?

I'm not disagreeing with what you have written, but posting questions that arise as a result of you postulation.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=134634\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I think that creativity starts with a positive approach to life and to art.  Negativity is definitely a hurdle towards being creative, or towards becoming creative.

For example holding the belief that "everything has already been done" will bring discouragement, not bring about the creation of new work.

We have to keep in mind that creativity shares the same roots as creation: making something new. To make something new one has to believe it can be done, that there is room for it, that it is possible.

Similarly, holding the belief that the best is in the past --exemplified by prefacing statements with "in my time" or something to that effect-- results in discouragement rather than in the desire to go out and make something happen.  Such a belief means, for those who hold it, that the best has already been done, that the ideal time has passed, that the opportunities are gone. The outcome of such beliefs is a lack of desire for engaging in creative endeavors.  A further outcome is a lack of vision for new possibilities.  Such a belief kills excitement and passion for the creation of new work.

Creativity needs a positive approach to life.  Negativity is the enemy of creativity.  Creativity neds passion, excitement and the desire to create.
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Alain Briot
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russell a
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« Reply #31 on: August 21, 2007, 05:18:39 PM »
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I think that creativity starts with a positive approach to life and to art.  Negativity is definitely a hurdle towards being creative, or towards becoming creative.

For example holding the belief that "everything has already been done" will bring discouragement, not bring about the creation of new work.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=134643\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Creativity, in the sense that we are speaking here, has nothing to do with the Norman Vincent Peale (author: 1952 The Power of Positive Thinking) style of self-hypnotically-induced optimism.  Creative people from history, many of whom were rancorous pessimists and inveterate complainers, didn't kick up their heels and announce "By gum, I think I'll create something new".  It's the obsession, stupid.  The most celebrated artists were, by standard measure, misfits, malcontents, or monsters.  Mozart, Beethoven, Cezanne, Picasso, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, to name a few.  

As far as "everything has been done", that issue is irrelevant to an obsession.  On that point, however, a lot has been done. If you don't think so, you aren't looking and you can pretend that your "sunset over the sand" is innovative rather than one more example, for better or worse, of a well-trod genre.  Not that it isn't fine for someone to do such a thing, just label it correctly.  It depends on one's measure.  Just like, although rumor has it that every snowflake is unique, most snowfalls do not strike us as an innovation.
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Gordon Buck
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« Reply #32 on: August 21, 2007, 09:23:37 PM »
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It is easier to be different than it is to be creative; in fact, one can learn to be different through study.  It is especially easy to be the frog that is different if the pond is small.
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Rob C
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« Reply #33 on: August 22, 2007, 03:05:15 AM »
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It is easier to be different than it is to be creative; in fact, one can learn to be different through study.  It is especially easy to be the frog that is different if the pond is small.
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And if you know, in your heart, that you are really a prince...

Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #34 on: August 22, 2007, 03:18:08 AM »
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Should almost everyone just close up shop and go home, it was asked.

Well, as far as this particular shop is concerned I´d hope not. The LuLa has been, and still is, a very usefull source - the best I´ve stumbled upon so far - for all manner of ´new photography´ information; its owner does some very interesting and pleasing pictures which are generally well worth looking at - not a lot of cliché - there are also some very talented writers abroad whose work might be better appreciated were it given its own slot rather than just getting lost in these threads.

Having said that, the answer is also a resounding yes, if only because on the basis of numbers there can only be a tiny percentage of people anywhere with the ability to both entertain, impart information and provide pleasing photography. As I don´t provide you with any photography at all, perhaps I should be one of the first to slink away; sorry, though, I still feel the need to communicate with the wider world.

Even creativity is not there for the keeping; it´s a resource that, like the sex drive, has its best period. You never lose the desire for sex (speaking from a male perspective) and neither do you lose the creative urge of self-expression. Sadly, with both, the desire outlasts the quality of the performance.

Rob C
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russell a
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« Reply #35 on: August 22, 2007, 03:21:34 AM »
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It is easier to be different than it is to be creative; in fact, one can learn to be different through study.  It is especially easy to be the frog that is different if the pond is small.
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Exactly!  The arc of Modernism put a premium on innovation=different.  

Over time Art lost its place as handmaiden to, first, Church, then, State.  As the arc continued into the 20th Century we saw the gradual elimination of 1) subject matter, 2) narrative and social/spiritual relevance, 3) art's position/posture of privilege (Pop Art), and 4) emotion or affect (post-modernism).  We have now come to a period where what we call Art is the serial anointment of aesthetic commodities for marketplace consumption.  It has become difficult to determine the meaning of Creativity now that the arc of Modernism is over.  We are left to ponder the degree to which the capital "C" Creativity was perhaps an illusion, created by the precursors of today's Art Marketing establishment.  

There were always artists who were denied a seat at the main table because they were pursing an individual arc that was out of phase with the "Grand Arc".  Fairfield Porter is a good example.  

There is no longer a Grand Narrative, such as Modernism represented, to which an artist might align or rebel.  To a large extent one's relationship to the Grand Narrative provided definition and meaning to one's Self.  That the would-be Artist is now free of that constraint comes with a price - that is that art may offer little in the way of a framework for self-identity as it once did.  

At this point I am reminded of a quote from deKooning, something to the effect of whenever he felt he was getting close to a Big Truth he would lay down and take a nap.  ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz
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Rob C
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« Reply #36 on: August 22, 2007, 04:18:40 AM »
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Interesting comment. If creativity is the start of the journey then are you implying that people are either born creative or not as the case may be.

If someone is not initially creative but over the course of their life becomes creative what is the path that brings enlightenment?

Is someone who is not born creative forever doomed to repeating the works of others? In which case should 99% of this boards readers pack up their cameras and go home as they will never produce a creative photograph in their life?

If there is no path to creativity and people are not born creative then does it strike at random and to the lucky few? Can I increase my luck of being struck?

I'm not disagreeing with what you have written, but posting questions that arise as a result of you postulation.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=134634\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

To answer you as best I can:

a. yes, I believe people are born either creative or not;
b. I believe the second is impossible;
c. yes and yes, but only if it matters to them that they are doomed to mediocrity of vision (not the same as mediocrity of technique);
d. I believe there is no path, that some are and some are not so struck; only if you can engineer your own gene allocation.

To amplify on your last point, I´d say that if you are born creative (I don´t say that makes you lucky - far better to be born an accountant or lawyer, particularly a mildly creative one) then your environment - possibly a parent, as with my own life - can help you escape to where you want to be more easily.

In the end, we are all different. I live in what some consider a fantastic environment but am not particularly well-off; others of my family have followed the twin-Mercedes syndrome; others in it are working their butts off to put two children through private school because they know (both are teachers) that what the state provides is a programme for disaster. Nothing is perfect and to pretend otherwise is self-deception.

But even when one chats on about creativity with a firmly held idea of what it is, certainty begins to disappear: what of the lady in the kitchen who can drum up a surprisingly good meal from left-overs; what about the guy in the downtown garage who can turn your old jallopy into a hot-rod; what of the unsung hero in that sweatshop in Hong Kong whose talent for design and adaptation makes mass fashion available on the street market for next to nothing? Perhaps few of these would think of themselves as creative - maybe it´s just a conceit of the chattering classes...

Rob C
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Ray
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« Reply #37 on: August 22, 2007, 07:34:24 AM »
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To answer you as best I can:

a. yes, I believe people are born either creative or not;
b. I believe the second is impossible;
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=134735\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

What are you trying to say here, Rob? You don't strike me as a man of 'belief'.

Who on earth could be qualified to assert, when a child is born, this child is not creative, or not going to be creative as he/she grows up?
 
Who can say to what extent our genes or our environment influence our future? Some so-called experts glibly assert it's 50/50, which means they don't really know.

I think Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken, is relevant here.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there,
Had worn them really about the same

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference !
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Rob C
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« Reply #38 on: August 23, 2007, 11:28:54 AM »
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Ray, I don´t think ANYONE is trying to decide whether a newly born child is or is not ´creative´.

I think that what I´m stating (hard to be sure, these days) is that the child´s qualities are formed in the womb at the moment of the magic spark when all hell breaks loose and people sigh, shudder, reflect, either beat a hasty exit without smoking that last cigarette or, perhaps, go all warm all over and sing soft lullabies and dream of nests and things of that ilk, it matters little in the greater scheme of things. What does matter is the particular chemistry of the participants and how they gell at that precise moment.

After that, the child will know by itself which way its cookie is going to crumble. To be or not to be (creative); that is the question, if my poet is a valid as yours.

Ciao - Rob C
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Ray
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« Reply #39 on: August 23, 2007, 08:36:30 PM »
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I think that what I´m stating (hard to be sure, these days) is that the child´s qualities are formed in the womb at the moment of the magic spark when all hell breaks loose and people sigh, shudder, reflect, either beat a hasty exit without smoking that last cigarette or, perhaps, go all warm all over and sing soft lullabies and dream of nests and things of that ilk, it matters little in the greater scheme of things. What does matter is the particular chemistry of the participants and how they gell at that precise moment.


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Rob,
This is still not clear   . You've previously stated you believe that creativity is something you are either born with or not. It cannot be taught. Now you are going back even further than the moment of birth and claiming that it's at the moment of conception when a person's creativity is determined.

The anti-abortionists will love you for such views   .
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