What Is and Isn’t Creative—and Not Just in Hollywood

Pierre de Craon


In the comment thread following Kevin MacDonald’s recent blog post “Hollywood and the Left, Again,” one of the commenters, Caleb, wrote “It’s not just Hollywood. Creative people in all fields tend to be tolerant and politically liberal. Show me an artist who’s also a country club Republican.” In effect, several of those who replied seemed to think, as do I, that generalizing about creativity and creative people should be approached with caution. After I tried teasing out the implications of this concise sentiment, however, concision soon got consigned to oblivion. The paragraphs that follow are what replaced it.

The truism that “creative people” tend to manifest the “values”—tolerance and liberalism, for two—of this society’s masters is as uninformative as every other truism (“a proposition that states nothing beyond what is implied by any of its terms”). Unsurprisingly, the people who have successfully peddled this bill of goods, even to some TOO commenters, fail to reveal that the definers of creativity are the same people that run the communication, information, and entertainment industries and much else besides.

Anyone who has had his young world turned upside down by a chance encounter with a poem, a painting, or a piece of real music understands the explosive force of true creativity. In five-plus decades of working out the consequences of the explosion I myself experienced, the familiarity I have acquired with the materials and makers of art—a familiarity sometimes exhausting but by no means exhaustive—has taught me that the one sure thing to be said about genuinely creative people is that, except in the precise area or areas where they tend to manifest creativity, little is fixed, little is predictable, and most of all, little about them is necessarily even relevant to the wider sphere. That is to say, generalizing about the larger societal consequences of art and, a fortiori, artists is a waste of time, a fool’s errand. Yet it is a rare pundit and an even rarer “creative person” who will have the honesty, the self-awareness, or the modesty to say what Kirsten Flagstad said to a shy young woman who, encountering Flagstad on the street, stumblingly told the soprano that she was a great artist. After thanking the woman, Flagstad replied kindly, “My dear, I am an artist only when I sing.”

The West has an artistic heritage of staggering dimensions and of a richness that—sadly, humans being what they are—only a scattered few now or ever living will understand or truly experience in their innermost being (i.e., in the place where art ultimately matters). Yet living as we all are in an age when culture, both popular and high, is undergoing desertification at a rate to turn the Sahara green with envy and when creativity is equated with full-frontal nudity, with hatred of the Cross and those who follow it, and with the disordered exaltation of the ugly and the evil as the beautiful and the good, we ought to be shocked, not merely left suspicious and skeptical, by our masters’ ever louder insistence that we recognize and honor the “creative” and the “cultured” in our midst—especially since these people who, whatever they may be, seldom if ever seem to be intelligent, virtuous, White, Christian, or heterosexual. Nor are more than a few, if indeed any, of them creative in any sense not coined the day before yesterday.

In writing of Franz Boas, among others, Professor MacDonald has demonstrated convincingly that there has been a century-long Jewish-led and -orchestrated war on the content of the word culture. The words creative and creator have been cheapened to an equal or a greater extent. Fifty years ago, my parents and my teachers knew and understood relatively little about Bach, Giotto and Virgil, let alone such wildly abstruse disciplines as particle physics and French film. Yet because they trusted their Guardians (to use Plato’s term), they were, to a surprisingly large extent, confident that what Bach and Giotto and Virgil had been about was deeply significant. They were confident, too, that there was something laudable about people who valued Bach and Giotto and Virgil and who either tried to emulate their accomplishments or (since, alas, precious few of us can emulate them) tried simply to profit to the full from exposure to their work. (The fact that many such people saw the life of the “creator” as being of dubious desirability for their kids had more to do with lifestyle and ancillary concerns than with artistic activity sensu stricto and hence is beside the main point. Of course, the verdict of history, sad to say, is largely on the side of the worried parent.)

Even by the early seventies, however, our enemies’ cause was so far advanced that the next batch of people like my parents—middle-class folks of second- or third-generation Celtic and northern European stock—had largely ceased looking up to their own illustrious heritage and to those who stood for it (already then a dwindling number) and were instead looking “down”—that is, at the growing Black and Hispanic segments of the population, people whose conduct, frequently quite frightening and usually criminal and immoral, their government and its designated tastemakers seemed to be rewarding, financially and otherwise. Nor did that new batch of White parents fail to notice that, a generation earlier, the selfsame conduct had been roundly condemned in White Christians by White Christians. Yet the fact that American Protestant and Catholic religious leaders were lined up alongside and behind the secular masters of society virtually to a man (if such a word can nonrisibly be used of what was, as is now known, an overwhelmingly homosexualized subset of the churches’ members) clearly left the weak-willed majority of the successors to my parents and teachers with the distinct feeling that fighting for their own heritage—which in fact they little understood—had nothing to offer them or their offspring compared with the potential rewards that “going along” could bring them.

With regard to the redefinition of creator and creativity, the importance of the successful corruption of Christianity from within can hardly be overstated. As the end-product of many centuries of subversion, it is well documented in learned books, monographs, and journals that are now largely sequestered from all but a handful of researchers. Curiously, they have been replaced by tales, written by Jewish scholars and popularizers, celebrating Marranos and other counterfeit converts.

It is no coincidence that in this new world of Judaic triumphalism the word artist has come to be the top choice on the word-association charts. It is flogged night and day for everyone from sex-and-drug-obsessed hip-hop rabble to feces-fondling “entertainers” who make . . . stuff . . . for the performance space, the gallery, or the once-sacrosanct museum. (How seldom one now hears artist employed to describe the very people to whom the term was formerly and exclusively applied!) This arena of cultural and moral transformation is one where exaggerated description is simply impossible, where banal and often disgusting reality dwarfs even the most imaginative man’s capacity to satirize it.

The point here is a larger one. This abuse of language and the concomitant abuse of the vast cultural iceberg beneath it are not merely what we, the members of what was once the majority culture, have been force-fed, what we have been sold. Sadly it is clear that this is what has been bought, even by a good many of the very White people who damn well ought to know better (not excluding some commenters on various TOO threads). Notwithstanding that in this virtually art-free wasteland that the United States has become, one hears the word ‘artist’ used more every day than, say, Bach or Giotto or Virgil heard it used in his lifetime. Yet obeisance rather than scorn has become the default response. Neither Plato nor Aquinas conceded that appearance and reality were the same thing; so why should we?

When in his great biography Boswell records Samuel Johnson famously telling him, “My dear friend, clear your mind of cant,” the point of the italics becomes clear in the next sentences. “You may talk as other people do: you may say to a man, ‘Sir, I am your most humble servant.’ You are not his most humble servant. . . . You may talk in this manner; it is a mode of talking in Society; but don’t think foolishly.” Likewise, in order to endure the tedium and the misery of life in an unfriendly and unforgiving society whose alien rulers are close to their goal of complete dispossession of the descendants of its founding populations, it is inevitable that people watch and listen and even take cheer from things that would have surprised or even appalled their grandparents. Since, as Johnson also said, on the whole life is more to be endured than enjoyed, availing oneself of what options there are is the understandable response to the modern world, if not necessarily the best one. But once a man allows himself to believe, to truly believe, that Stephen Spielberg or Andres Serrano or Annie Sprinkle or Jerry Seinfeld or Lucian Freud or Beyoncé is an artist, not only has he succumbed to foolish thinking, but he has crossed a line that he may find it difficult or even impossible to recross before his inner life gets utterly Stepfordized.

In closing, full disclosure requires me to say that while I can truly claim that for decades I have shunned all Spielberg movies, irrespective of the size of the screen exhibiting them, I have many more times than once wasted precious hours watching explosions and car chases and preachy futuristic fantasies where everyone anachronistically swears by and worships the Establishment “values” of today. Put otherwise, I may never have breakfasted on Cap’n Crunch, but I have certainly eaten a lot of tortilla chips. To continue the metaphor, however, the critical point is never to assert that tortilla chips equate to real food. Whatever corners I may have or may still cut, that assertion is one I have never made. I hope I never shall.

Under another name, Pierre de Craon was for several decades an editor of academic and scholastic reference books. Perhaps he will be again.

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