Creativity and Popular Culture

Creativity and Popular Culture

Creativity and Popular Culture

Creativity and Popular Culture

Synopsis

"In this book David Holbrook offers a fresh definition of creativity as a natural and fundamental dynamic in all human beings by which they seek to make sense of their lives. The symbolic expression of children is examined to support this view. Also examined are various manifestations of popular culture, manifestations that Holbrook suggests are manipulative - failing to satisfy primary needs, tending to encourage overdependence and regression. Holbrook believes that commercial culture has intuitively found ways of exploiting the natural needs of children. Without being able to offer any genuine sustenance for the existential needs of the child, commercial culture uses unconscious material to arouse deep anxieties and to seize the child's fascinated interest while promoting regression. Holbrook considers children's comics and pop lyrics, among other cultural media, and through them shows that commercial culture tends to enlist a preoccupation with disturbances for which there are no solutions. The anxiety aroused undermines a child's achievements. Children often seek solace in "pop cults" and, in the words of the late Marxist critic Charles Parker, are made "agents of their own debauchery." The fascination of cult loyalty impedes their natural growth and maturation processes - and their infantile addiction can follow them into adulthood. Case in point is the nostalgia of the Beatles generation. Upon John Lennon's death in 1980, some individuals who had grown up listening to the Beatles declared that there was "nothing left to live for." Holbrook investigates such group hysteria, noting its effects on the family, and asks poignantly if the total perversion of adult-child relationships is necessary to sell electronic recordings. Creativity and Popular Culture offers a new basis for discrimination in cultural criticism. That David Holbrook has hit his target is perhaps best proven by the fact that the publisher of one comic he discusses has refused to allow reproduction of the drawings." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

The word "creativity" is used in many different ways in our society, and has become a loose, vaguely emotive term, with a good deal that is false in it, as in talk about "creative work in the media." I continue to use the word "creative," hoping that I have demonstrated in my writings what I mean by it, through examples. But I have continued to feel that the word needs further definition, so that we who try to use it seriously can feel that there is an agreed sense between us and our readers, as to what kind of phenomenon we are dealing with.

While I have felt this, I have also been exploring possible philosophical endorsements of our work of exploring and evaluating aspects of culture, education, and society. In an early work I used the title English for Maturity (1961), arguing that English as a humanities subject was concerned with the growth and development of the whole person. In this, I supposed, I belonged to the tradition of Coleridge (who spoke of "Growledge"), of Matthew Arnold, the George Sampson of English for the English (1921), and philosophers such as Susanne Langer and Michael Polanyi. In this tradition, learning is seen as bound up with the growth of the whole person, while the imaginative exercise of symbolism is the basis of thought. I would still aspire to belong to these traditions. But my last book on the teaching of English in schools was called English for Meaning (1980), and this indicates a shift of emphasis. This tried to develop an existentialist basis for an approach to the teaching of English, and to suggest that the need to develop a personal culture was a primary need in every human being, and that this was the exercise of the pursuit of meaning—for every human being to feel that their life has a significance, given the recognition that we all live in the condition of "being-unto-death," with which the existentialists confront us. In this I have been trying to draw attention to what the "Daseins-analytical" or "existential" psychotherapists have learned, by paying attention to the gloomy philosophy of Martin Heidegger and other philosophers in the phenomenological tradition in Europe.

In the light of these philosophies, which I examine in detail in . . .

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