Is creativity positive

The word 'creativity' is imbued almost exclusively with positive connotations. But should this be so? The creative impulse can be negative. It can produce weapons that kill as well as medicines that cure. The purpose and goal of creativity is as important as the process of being creative. Importantly, too, both the trivial and the profound are equally called creative. An imitative, formulaic design might be called creative, just because it appears funky, as can a deep new insight about human personality.

Creative as a word, a concept, as a desirable state or aspiration has taken over from the word 'cultured'. 'Cultured' appears to have an old-fashioned ring and backward look. This need not be so. The best cultured people seek to understand the present and are focused on the future too. Being creative has a forward ring and it appears to be about the new and inventive, about being on the pace - it seems to be glamorous. And business too is tripping over itself to attract creativity in the 'war for talent'. Companies frequently claim how creative they are.

With so much creativity cities should be exciting, but this is not what we see in most streets, downtowns or neighbourhoods. Too often there is a blandness and sameness masquerading as difference and excitement: 30,000 McDonald's with their 50 million customers daily,73 5000 Wal-Marts with a total occupied retail space of over 50km2, a third of the size of Amsterdam,74 ad nauseum.

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