Last Thursday all of my professors seemed to have read the same memo. After our morning class, I went straight to Philosophy of Creativity and then to Philosophy and the Good Life, and in each class we discussed creative origin and if there is such a thing as originality. Needless to say, after that five hour run, my head was oozing with philosophical juices, which made for a pretty bad headache. Don’t get me wrong, I love pondering unanswerable questions, but pondering the same unanswerable question in three different classes was a bit much for the second week of classes.
Now that I’ve had some time to digest the question of originality, I’d like to ask what are the criteria for an original act? It would seem to me that to be original, something must reference the familiar (like we said in class), while adding a “newness” to a previous tradition, as well as have an author/artist’s intent that may or may not be fully known by the artist at the start of their creation. This is my temporary criteria, being that I’m likely to change my mind and because there is so much that I don’t know. To demonstrate my temporary criteria, I’ve attached a YouTube video, which I stumbled upon, being that I’m a YouTube addict.
I took to heart one specific line in the Stallybrass piece, "The cure for the disease called thinking is work." I'm a creative writing junkie, and I took Short Fiction II last semester with Karen Russell who said, that the worst piece of writing advice she ever received was to, "write what you know." Writing only about your experiences is a hindrance. After all, even if you've never worked on a farm, can't you imagine what it would be like? Limiting yourself in this way is a "disease", one that can be cured, as Stallybrass suggests, by work. Thinking, and over thinking, and then rethinking your over thinking just to make sure your work is based justly, isn't beneficial to anyone. Just write. Just work. Let horrible prose or hypotheses or whatever be written. It's better to write junk than nothing.