The Mysteries of creation

I was talking to Thomas Kendall (Yes, I know, I should give it up, it just makes me think and we all know where that leads) and he was on a lovely rang (just before he sent me the lovely rant that took up yesterday) and he blew up to the tune of “the problem is that the establishment– well, all of the establishment — got rid of our kind, if they could find us, and now they’re trying to replicate our creativity. And what we get is fifty seven genders and a dog named Binny, all of it so boring you fall asleep after the first two paragraphs.”

When I was done laughing, I joined the amen chorus, which is par for the course, but also part of a thesis I’ve expanded here in the past.

Look, creativity is weird.

No, I mean, really weird.

If you can create — really create, not just make the same thing but in black, or with more post-modernism, or more irony or whatever — and particularly if you have to create, you are by definition an Odd.

This never occurred to me, till I was in my teens, because of the family I came from. Part of the reason we might have been “poor as Job” (to quote my brother) but never noticed it, is that the family was creative. By which I don’t mean we were artistic. Oh, sure. The art was there, and some generations would go that way. My mom’s parents met on stage. My paternal grandmother’s father was a sculptor and also a singer (besides being a cattle drover in between. Don’t go there. Yes, Great grandfather was a proto-hipster.) And there painters, and poetry reappears again and again, like a recursive genetic illness. BUT–

But mom designed (and often made) clothes, and dad wrote (or declaimed off the cuff) poetry, and grandma made up stories to tell me, and both my grandfather’s were carpenters, but more importantly and above all else, we were good at “making.” Which meant if someone had an expensive whatchamacallit and we couldn’t afford it, and either wanted or needed it, we took scraps and bits, and a ten cent of nails, and we made it, by gum. Like mom seeing an expensive rack/shelf set to store fabric and thread, and making herself one from used cheese crates begged from the merchant across the street. Or the fact that my crafting as a kid often involved hand tinted paint, from discarded leftovers someone was throwing away. Or– You get the point. The family’s way of getting by was: get creative. Spending money only came if the creative didn’t work.

I was used to people extemporaneously creating whatever was needed, sometimes to imitate what we couldn’t afford, and sometimes dreamed up out of whole cloth. I THOUGHT all humans were that way.

Then when I was in middle school, we were given an assignment, to write a made-up legend. And all my classmates did was retell the last legend we’d read. AND THE TEACHER DIDN’T NOTICE. Worse, she looked at what I’d done, and accused me of plagiarism. Because it was so different from everything we’d studied and yet so well written/plausible, that she couldn’t believe I created it.

Took me some years to figure out that some people are not just stunningly non-creative. They don’t believe that anything new CAN be created.

Then there was the writing, where I had to reign in and bring it back to “what people expect” before I could sell. Not complaining about that. writing exists within certain boundaries.

Of course, when I did that, I felt like I was being stunningly uncreative, until a friend in the field told me I couldn’t write normal Urban Fantasy because I couldn’t create normal ANYTHING.

Took me even longer to figure out what she meant was that I was creative in a way she didn’t get. Which since this came from a creative professional was…. weird.

But most creative professionals aren’t that creative. Yes. Most of them are leftist too.

In fact, the fact leftists and “progressives” took over creative fields means that it’s almost impossible for really creative people to get in.

The idea that creative people are leftists, or primarily leftist is deranged. It’s born of the idea that leftism is somehow “rebellious.” Only of course, it’s not. Hasn’t been since FDR. In fact, that entire fable is one of those long-running-cons society has accepted.

Am I saying that politics flow from a certain political viewpoint?

Well, no. But I’m saying that creatives aren’t in general conventional anything.

Some of them are “leftist” in the sense they haven’t thought about it, and they get all their news from the MSM. Not in any other sense.

Those who parrot or ARDENTLY follow the ever changing party line can’t be creative. They can’t be creative because if they were they would occasionally accidentally create something that got them cancelled.

So, the creative fields, in the hand of the totalitarian group-thinkers, has slowly blackballed and pushed out any creatives.

Yes, there are exceptions. I might have found one of them in mystery. I’m listening, stunned they haven’t been blackballed. (They because it’s a team effort.) But they’re very rare.

Mostly, having run out all the Odds, and everyone consumed by the fires of creation, they’re left with people who have no idea what “creating” means, and dutifully invoke all the shiboleths of the sacred writ of Marx, then run it by the sensitivity reader. Yes, indeed. Fifty seven genders and a dog named Binny.

I mean, we’re talking about people who can make hot and heavy erotica BORING.

And now they’re in charge of everything else, including our economy and government.

This is bad. Of course it is. It’s very bad.

They don’t believe in creation, which is part of their devotion to redistribution.

But it is also an opportunity.

You see, they can’t create, they hate creation, but most of all, they don’t realize that people can create, or use things for …. um… off label uses, shall we say? And I’m not talking drugs.

We can. We Odds can’t avoid doing it. Kind of like my family when I was growing up, we create with careless largesse and without realizing it.

The hard thing is to stop us from creating.

…. they’ve tried. Oh, Lord they’ve tried.

Only it hasn’t worked. And we keep…. slipping through my fingers.

Therefore my friends, in this lethal pause between boxes? Let’s get creative.

221 thoughts on “The Mysteries of creation

  1. Grandpa needed a tractor so he made one from old Buick and Dodge leftovers. He also had a contraption he and others were using that McCormick came and looked at getting his ideas for the 3 point hook-up on modern tractors.

  2. The fact that these industries that were the first ones colonized by leftist pays into my notion that much of it has always been a dodge -These people don’t want to work hard, which creating something out of bits and pieces certainly is. That is the core mission of such blue-ribbon panels such as the Endowment for the Arts. A sinecure for mediocre/no talent boobs to approve each others derivative BS so they all make a living, and the beret, glasses and goatee are just the affectations of the class. I must confess, being creative is somewhat easier when nobody knows you from Adam’s off ox. Critics being, of course, the curse of the creative class as they damn what they have no hope of ever doing themselves. The sad fact is, with notable exceptions this describes working for government entities as well. Nobody has to produce, except for ‘norms’ that are set so low my Hell-hound Charlie could fill them in an hour or so. (Come to think of it, Charlie could probably do a days work for them in a few minutes. He’s an industrious dog.)

    1. When I retired from the Department of the Army, they divided my workload among three people (maybe more, three I’m sure of). I was NOT overworked. In fact, my frustration at not having enough to do was one reason I left. Well, and spouse had grown the tax business to the point we didn’t need my income as backup.

      1. Late 90’s the warehouse job I left I was replaced by 3 people. Manager and two workers with the manager also doing the occasional order fill. I was only asking for one additional person. But, I’d fill all outstanding orders on Friday and leave at 6pm or so. The orders came from Fresno so they were open later (I was Central Time) so I’d show up Monday to a full day’s work and get another day’s faxed to me by 9am, with more added as the day went on, so by 6 on Monday I had two days work with another coming after I left at 6pm or so, and an order came every Tuesday at 8:30-9am that got put ahead of everyone else and took most of the day to pull, so by lunch Tuesday I was already at least 3 days behind, sometimes 4+.

    2. I confess that I was somewhat guilty of that: wanted to become an author because I was sure it was “easier” than a “normal job.” I was disabused of that notion in fairly short order, along with the notion that my first book would become an instant mega-bestseller and I’d go to sleep on a bed made of gold bricks every night. Hard to make anything of yourself as a writer when you lack the discipline to crank out words every day. I am getting there, though (if only I could get my crippling self-doubt under control…)

      1. That’s just as well; sleeping on gold bricks doesn’t sound pleasant.
        I know it may be a soft metal, it’s not that soft.

        1. Gold in large quantities has a very peculiar smell. When I was in grammar school we went on a class trip to the vaults at the NY Fed where they keep all the foreign gold. It had the most peculiar smell. I’ve been in a,fair number of vaults and only smelled that smell where there was a lot of gold.

          interesting factoid. The Fed vault and the old Chase Manhattan vault share a wall but the Chase vault was designed to float if lower manhattan was inundated following a nuclear explosion, this was the 60’s, Most of downtown is built on fill, which goes back to colonial times. We’d all be dead but the money would be dry. I don’t think the water would bother the gold.

      2. Easier in some respects, harder in others. The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain by Alice Weaver Flaherty with the interesting observation that the overrepresentation of maniac-depressives among writers may be that it’s a job they can hold down.

  3. I wanted to be an architect, which I would have been had I anything resembling talent, which I don’t. When I was young, I spent a lot of time hanging around artist types where I discovered that they didn’t want to make art, they wanted to be artists, you know wear black, do heroin, the whole thing, it took me a while to see the truth of TS Eliot’s remark that artists dressed like bankers.

    1. Like the distinction between people who want to be a writer* vs. people who write.

      *(vintage typewriter, stack of paper, pencils arranged just so, mid-priced bourbon in a jelly jar, etc.)

    2. I decided in high school I wanted to be either a writer or an architect. I realized architects mostly do jobs where someone else tells them how to do it, so I nixed that in favor of the fame and riches of a freelance writing career where I could do whatever pleased me.

      OK, pick yourselves up off the floor and compose yourselves and take those silly grins off your faces. Join me in a toast to youthful innocence.

      1. I apparently wanted to write since grade school. People told me to get degrees instead.

        On sober reflection, I think I would have been best off with a university library card and left alone to write and succeed or not.

        1. He was no engineer. Many of his buildings would have already collapsed had his engineers not ignored his instructions. he consistently underbuilt.

        2. He was a so-so architect and an artiste-with-an-e. Someone I know in the field told me that his buildings and everything in them were scaled for him (not the client) and he was SHORT. Also that he was incredibly cheap and would space supports and such as far apart as possible, explaining their tendency to fall down / fail. And his roofs all leak.

    3. I wanted to be an engineer. Got my degree and everything. You can’t beat that feeling when the thing you created, sweated and labored over, corrected and redesigned, finally works exactly as intended. And then 2002 happened and I couldn’t get a job as an engineer even though I was living in the freaking silicon valley.

      Now I work as a data analyst (the requirements people post for tech writing jobs are truly mind-boggling) and exercise my need to create with writing, various fiber crafts, or cosplay projects (halloween is my christmas).

      I’d go completely bonkers and start killing folks if they tried to take away my creative outlets. It just would not end well for anyone.

      1. I wanted to be an engineer. Lost it in differentials and the fact I could never be as good as Dad who was top guidance system engineer in the world. Like our host entire family are odds in that way. Have a need create the answer. G’G’ Pa started a farm implement company and ended up being bought out by McCormaick and served as Chief engineer for 30 years.

        I spent 20 years filling my creative and engineering need building boats. Designing original and custom systems to make them better. Now have taught son and daughter to think in same way. Neither can help it. Wife makes up rhyming songs on the fly to celebrate any event. Usually hilarious.

        I know I cannot help it. It seems to be driven by seeing the world from a slightly different angle, and then going HUH, I wonder…

        Big issue is that we are very difficult to control. Because cannot figure out how we think. Therefore bad and must be stamped out They do not realize the level of resistance that they will encounter.

    4. I feel like the only artist stereotype I fit is that my fingers are usually weird colors from ink.

    5. The thing I like about architecture is that it’s a perfect blend of art and engineering – enough of each to satisfy one’s desire to create and make something that functions.

      The scary part is when you realize that you hold more people’s lives in your hand than any (for example) doctor ever could.

  4. I was baffled when I was called creative in elementary school, because I was self-limited by the idea that I had to conform to a particular set of (imaginary) rules. I actually remember the breaking point, when we were doing an idea map for a story assignment which was “the mad scientist and his machine.” Some of the words were “old,” “white-haired,” and “solitary,” and my brain rebelled and said “Young, cute, popular.”

    Everybody in class loved my story. Mind you, it wasn’t good, because we’re talking eighth grade here and eighth-grade writing rarely gets above “competent.” But it was my first realization that I was hindering my own creativity.

  5. I didn’t think they could make erotica boring until I started to read it recently. Oh yea– fifty-seven genders and a dog name Binny– is a perfect example. Anyway– I found that creativity does run in families, but it can skip generations too. My families creativity runs in the sound range– but I remember making up a song when I was young, and my father accused me of plagiarizing it. I quit writing any type of music after that.

    For some reason — I am one of those that has that poetic gene. It just slips out of the time. I am apologizing now because it has to be some kind of genetic defect. 😀

    1. Back in the ’30s Olaf Stapledon created a human species with 96 sexes, gender not being used much back then. Every “marriage,” included all 96, with all the male sexes having intercourse with all the female sexes. But it was purely to facilitate the development of a telepathic group mind and that’s all he wrote about the Last Men’s sex lives.

  6. When you are missing a word, just make one up! If nothing else it’s a placeholder until the correct thing comes to you. Trotting out ancient history, in HS I was on the student newspaper. I wrote poems and to my utter astonishment they published them! I’m sure they weren’t very good, My HS yearbook listed me in the future as the father of Free Verse. That might be true but you wouldn’t know it to look at me, and certainly no one has trotted up to lay dollars upon hand for any thing I’ve written to date. The ‘poetic gene’ I believe is a consequence of thinking of the world in ways that removes you from it, allowing you to examine the thing without being a part of it. Goes for most creatives I think. Now, If I could just figure out a way to get back in!? Some days I feel like the guy outside the shop that just closed, beating on the glass to get someone’s attention.
    Oh, well…

    1. I think the last real paying job as a poet was in the 1900s and that was as editor of a poetry mag. lol Nowadays they want you to pay them to publish it.

      1. Kipling got paid for his poetry and he lived and published around that time. But he was also a journalist and his poetry was often political commentary. Odd, but I don’t know of any commentators, political or otherwise, publishing poetry of that nature today

        1. I was thinking of Kipling and then Yeats( was a Senator). I think another one– but can’t get it off the top of my head…
          All at the turn of the century

      2. A lot of them were teachers, Heaney, Auden for a bit, he also did a lot of work for BBC. Frost and Ted Hughes were farmers. Betjeman and Patrick Kavanaugh worked in the press. Larkin was a librarian.

        The Irish senate Yeats served in wasn’t really elected and though Yeats was part of the Irish Nationalists, he was more a romantic than practical. Gogarty, another poet who earned his living as a doctor, served in the same senate. Gogarty was a school friend of Joyce.

        The only “recent” American poet Imcan think of is Bukowsky, he was a postman. The rest of them have lost me.

          1. For my sins, I now have some of Marshall Bruce’s stuff running through my head.
            (please stand up, please stand up, please stand up….)

          2. #notquiteassilly

            Bob Dylan
            Leonard Cohen

            Yeah, they set their poetry to music, but that doesn’t diminish the quality of the poetry when read off the page.

            Most “official” poetry has been academized and monopolized by professors of English who publish one little volume at their university press and use that as cred to teach a generation of students all the wrong things about poetry.

            1. Eminem is obscene, but he does have real skill that shows through very obviously– Sir Mix A lot, likewise, and it’s a defining characteristic of Country Western that it must play with the sounds of the words, as well as the meanings. My parents still complain about “modern country” that isn’t written by the singer or at least written by a friend whose voice couldn’t do what the song needed (with the expectation that it’s a regular exchange), but will admit that so-and-so does justice to a song for hire if it’s a real western/country song. Don’t get them started on the songs that are just pop with guitars, at least “Brown Chicken, Brown Cow” is clever.

        1. Most of the post modern poets are deconstructionists. I don’t find it pleasing– so I don’t name them as poets except for a rare few btw.

        2. I’ve published poetry in the same journal as Seamus Haney ( if you know who that is)– still didn’t become famous lol and still didn’t make a cent. The journals pay in copies because it is hard to sell then now.

    2. I once weirded out my English class, including the teacher, with the opposite of a made-up word.
      There was this poem about ants, and the teacher was rhapsodizing about how the creative poet creatively coined the word “formic.” I spoke up to say that “formic” was an existing word, one associated with ants, even.

      And I knew this because I was reading Morrison & Boyd on my own, in early high school.

      1. That’s the lemon stuff, isn’t it?

        *goes and looks, verifies it is so she isn’t wasting folks’ time*

        Good memory on the exact word!

        1. And my mind immediately leapt to remembrance of an SF short story (I think, author lost to the mists of time) in which a biologically enhanced child was caught eating ants because their body craved formic acid.

          1. I thought it was AE van Vogt’s “Slan”, but I grepped it and… apparently not.

            Kids eating strange stuff is common enough in the real world; eating cigarette ashes wasn’t unusual. Dietary deficiencies, I guess.

              1. “What made you eat them ants?” came next.
                “Well, I — I don’t know. I guess I just — well, I wanted to.”
                “Do you do that a lot?”

                That’s it!

  7. *laughs*

    My family calls it “good enough” with the implication of “for family use,” rather than “meh it’s cruddy but stop now.”

    But that sounds very familiar.

    If there’s something you need or really want, you make do.

  8. Took me even longer to figure out what she meant was that I was creative in a way she didn’t get. Which since this came from a creative professional was…. weird.

    What did that dwarf say?
    “They don’t want news, they want olds”?

  9. I remember being assigned to write a Halloween-themed story in Eighth Grade and having a rare flash of insight. Haunted houses were traditionally Victorian mansions because they were *old*. Especially if left to deteriorate and acquire a spooky atmosphere, not to mention the old-fashioned architectural esthetic of a dead and gone era now considered out of style and considered kitschy and overdone at best. It followed, then, that the brand-new ranch-style and split-levels being built in suburban housing developments today were the haunted houses of the future, given enough time. So I wrote up a little story called “The Haunted Ranch House.” (Slight mistake on my part — it sounded like a Western. I meant ranch-style.) It was set some decades in the future and elaborated on my idea that the haunted houses of a hundred years from now were already here in the form of new houses. My teacher did not get it. Boy, did she not get it. As I understood her criticism, haunted houses had to be traditional Victorians or similar old houses because that was just how it was. Also, being set in the future, the story was therefore science fiction and couldn’t possibly be a ghost story, and science fiction wasn’t true literature because it had nothing to do with the problems of today, and I shouldn’t be bothering with it, at least not in her class. My insight was completely lost on her.
    So what do you do? You can’t fight City Hall, at least not when City Hall is marking your report card.

    1. That sounds like it’d be a good short to rewrite and sell, maybe a collection of short stories– may I suggest “The Haunted Rambler”?

      Maybe a selection of stories that break the “rules.”

      Dedicate it to teachers who teach you the right thing by doing everything wrong.

      And my goodness, is that a stupid comment she made, about scifi not talking about modern problems! Sometimes it seems like the only thing it does is deal with modern situations, just the GOOD stuff does it in a timeless/entertaining way!

        1. Yep, second automobile I remember my folks owning was a Nash Rambler.
          American motors I think?

    2. Ugh. My teachers were always pathetically happy to get a story or report that was even a little bit different, because grading is kinda boring.

      OTOH, in college creative writing, there was the sad case of the teacher who thought “telepathy” was a strange and unusual word that must be defined within a story. An sf/f genre story. I think there were some other common genre words she thought would need definition, and it was all pretty sad. (Because she wasn’t a bad writing teacher otherwise.)

      1. *blink*

        That’s…. my born-in-the-teens grandmother knew what “Telepathy” was. From the séance and fortune telling type crowds left over from the late 1890s type fads.

        *goes to double-check she’s not misremembering*

        Yeah, it was created by the guys who were super into psychic powers like a century before you would’ve been in school, unless you’re a LOT older than I think.

    3. Plenty of abandoned 50s era houses in Detroit now.
      As to the box houses being built today: Given the construction, they’ll probably age *badly*.

      1. The land behind my Dad’s house was “developed” into identical two-story houses – the only two-story houses in town. Premium priced, too. Took a while to sell them all.

        By the third year, entire rows of them were visibly leaning to one side, and Code Enforcement was in a dither. Eventually contractors showed up, jacked them back straight, and presumably interior work was done.

        I’d watched them go up – 2x3s on 24 inch centers and 3/8″ chipboard sheathing, stapled together by carpenters whose goal seemed to be to pull the trigger of the stapler as fast as possible. Too bad they seldom hit a stud…

        I never found out if who was responsible for that, or who paid for the repairs. Unfortunately the repairs didn’t do anything for the cosmetics; it’s a sad-looking area over there, apparently mostly rentals now.

        1. Well, stapling is more secure than nailing, if you don’t miss the studs.

          All of the rest of that says “this builder bribed the code enforcement officer a lot”.

  10. Re contrariness:

    Senior year of high school I took Mythology, taught by the old battleaxe who also ran the debate team and took no sh*t from nobody. (She literally kept a little rubber hatchet in her desk that she would occasionally wave around and scream “I’ll kill you all!” when her debate students were being idiots.)

    For our assignment to write a creation myth, everybody else in the class cribbed from Genesis (lots of Southern Baptists at my HS), or if they were especially clever from Greek sources with the usual panoply of gods. I felt contrary (and I’d done a bit of world building as a D&D GM at that point), so I wrote the creation myth of an isolated people who lived in high mountains and had never even heard of the ocean or seen a horse or much needed to go to war. I recall that I got an A.

    Similarly, my AP English class had read Tess of the D’Urbervilles (blech) just before the date of the AP test. The essay question was “describe how acts of violence were used in a work of literature”. Everybody else in the class but one wrote their essay on the semi-pseudo-unreliable-narrative-“rape” scene in Tess (double blech). I used the assassination in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and my best friend used the Mercutio-Tybalt fight in Romeo and Juliet. We got 5s, everybody else got 4s and 3s. Ha. Screw you, Hardy.

    1. When I took the AP English test, I went blank on everything I’d read during the year and wound up writing on The Scarlet Letter, which I had read in 10th grade. I got a 5, which I wasn’t expecting.

      1. I don’t even remember AP English, because it was pretty easy that year. I remember that AP HIstory had a documents question that obviously wanted you to talk about the South’s reasons to secede, so I talked about it, albeit not in an approving way because I’m a Unionist. Apparently that question threw a lot of people.

        Nowadays, apparently things are different. All woke, all the time.

    2. I loved “The Mayor of Casterbridge” and “Far from the Madding Crowd” despite the dismal view of life they presented, because, at least, they seemed to be fairly honest tragedies. Tess was too much for me. I just wanted to dig Hardy up from the grave and slap him. Repeatedly. Then bury him even deeper with a stake in his heart.

      1. I like his poetry more than his novels. I’d also like the Dynasts though it’s not to everyone’s taste.

    3. Uggh Tess of the D’ubervilles. I was at a friend’s Maine camp house (lovely place) and had burned through through what I’d brought with me (Moorcocks Jhaelen Irsei Corum books, a couple favorite Heinlens and something else that I can’t remember maybe some Niven?). On the shelf were Tess of the Dubervilles and Zen and the Art of Mortorcycle maintenence. I started the latter gave up moved into the former and soon wanted to slit my wrists. Luckily there was a run into town where I found Cats cradle and a couple other things at a used book store…

      1. Zen might be one of those books you have to be old enough to appreciate. The literature revered by our “betters” leaves me sighing for the poor deluded ones forced to read it and told it’s great. Catcher in the Rye–Boring, Pointless, & Stupid (BP&S). To Kill a Mockingbird—vacuous pieties with no connection to real life, and was the title ironic? Atticus says it’s pointless to kill a poor, harmless mockingbird. Mockingbirds are the equivalent of flying Karens who should be locked up and forced to eat nothing but malaria carrying mosquitos.

    4. Ouch. Tess of the D’Urbervilles is one of my favorites.

      At the risk of going off on a tangent, why the Hardy hate?

      1. Because I hate hate hated Tess of the D’Urbervilles and resented being forced to read it. There are a zillion other late-Victorian books of similar length that we could have read (in hindsight) but no, we had to read that one.

        1. tell us what you really think 😜.

          The one I hate was Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence. Imagine discussing DH sodding Lawrence in a Catholic Boys school with a priest who later got defrocked, for the usual thing, as the teacher. For Hardy we read Mayor of Casterbridge, I didn’t mind that so much and we can’t forget Monty Python doing novel writing from Dorset with Thomas Hardy writing Return of the Native up there with the summarize Proust competitions.

          1. That Monty Python sketch got me to read Return of the Native after I enjoyed Tess. More than any other book I’ve read, Return of the Native made the setting almost a character.

            1. And Marcel Proust had an ‘addock. Sir, if you’re calling the author of a la recherche de temps perdu a loony I shall have to ask you to step outside!

              Where have you gone intelligent comedy?

          2. When I started as a senior in HS needed 1 credit to graduate so took all honors classes. The honors (now called AP) class had a great teacher. The syllabus listed all the books to be read that semester. I had read them all and so informed the teacher. She gave me Sons and Lovers. OMG I thought I would have to defesnesttrate myself. So bad. Not enjoyable at all. Transferred out of the class and added another History credit.

      2. Long tangent for Doldrum’s sake follows. Hardy was big into tragedies. That’s OK. Many spoilers to follow, but Hardy has been dead a long time, so I don’t care.

        Mayor of Casterbridge: protagonist is a drunk, sells his wife and daughter to a sailor in a drunken binge, regrets and reforms, becomes mayor. Daughter shows up having just found out about him after her mother and the sailor died. Mayor embraces newly found daughter, goes to get her a present, discovers his daughter died, and the girl is the sailor’s daughter. Has no interest in said daughter who has no idea what cruel fate brought her to the brink of a loving relationship and ripped it away. Tragedy arranged by fate and human frailty and sin. Tragic, but clever.

        Far from the Madding Crowd. Young poor shepherd loves poor girl. Girl becomes well off, marries a handsome, useless, degenerate gambler who disappears and impregnates someone else. She flirts with the affections of an old, rich man who ends shooting her vile husband who has returned to ruin her life. Finally ends up with the shepherd who she doesn’t love but who loves her. Tragic, but touching.

        Tess of the D’Ubervilles. Young woman is used by her no-good parents, raped by a presumed benefactor, gives birth to bastard child who dies. Finds someone to love her, marries him. He confesses to an earlier affair. Relieved, she tells him her secret and is discarded like a plastic bag full of dog poop. Raped again by her former rapist who now is “reformed” and a preacher, kills him, goes understandably insane and is hanged, while her useless husband takes her last child off to South America. Young woman used and abused by everyone in her life. Tragic and disgusting. What’s not to like?

        I may have some details wrong, but that’s the way I remember it. For my money, Tess makes Hardy basically an emotional Marquis de Sade lacking only the supposed sexual payoff. Now Hardy may have wanted to make a point that you might think the current group of “feminists” would champion, but it must be too highbrow for them, or maybe its male authorship invalidates it for them. Sorry, I see no redeeming features in that book.

        1. In Tess, the husband marries her sister at her urging. (Tess is vaguely aware that it’s illegal but thinks he can get away with it.)

        2. A consistent theme of Hardy’s is that people have stations in life that they cannot change, and that tragedy will follow if they try to do so. I completely disagree with this, but when you read his stories with that in mind, they make more sense. It’s the character development and their aspirations that I like in his stories.

          Tess also has a quote that I like:
          “She suddenly thought one afternoon, when looking in the glass at her fairness, that there was yet another date, of greater importance to her than those; that of her own death, when all these charms would have disappeared; a day which lay sly and unseen among all the other days of the year, giving no sign or sound when she annually passed over it; but not the less surely there.”

          1. “A consistent theme of Hardy’s is that people have stations in life that they cannot change, and that tragedy will follow if they try to do so.” Sounds sooo very British. Since I come from the land of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Frederick Douglass, I apparently had a hard time grasping said theme. I know, you say you completely disagree too, I guess I’m just a little more blind to even getting the concept.

      3. Tess is not really in the wheelhouse of a 14 year old boy which is what I was at the time :-). I remember it being depressing and oppressive, and a very slow read. Admittidely that was 45+ years ago. I’ve never gone back plenty of other stuff I’m more liekly to enjoy.

    5. I once wrote an essay where you could pass, if it was perfect, if you didn’t bring it to the college’s writing clinic. It was about a piece of lab equipment. The guy reviewing mine was SO GLAD I didn’t write about an oscilloscope.

  11. Yeah, I’m reminded of one of the you tube pushes, talking up videos of ‘creators’.

    Was never interested in clicking through, so I have no idea of what the reality is.

    Expectation from other youtube pushes is that it is a curated selection that pushes a political message. Of course, the other thing Youtube does is algorithms, and I have doubts about their ability to make algorithms sort for abstract human qualities.

    What I’ve seen in the real world, among young people, looks a lot like the blind leading the blind. Talking in language formed within the schools, and because the teachers only understand a narrow slice of human behavior or society, words describing things outside the slice are used and applied by rote. Success, creation, etc.

    There are definitely people who know what’s what, but it is easy to drift by rote in ignorance.

  12. I’m necessarily crazy, I’m not necessarily creative.

    My experience is that creativity is trained pattern matching, and that having a lot of specific training, or maybe specific experience, is necessary for me to create anything really worthwhile. If I don’t know how to break a project down to theory and design sketches, I wind up making a bunch of incoherent scribbles no matter how hard I work. Some things I’ve trained enough that I can do the design in my head, without being able to put it in words or in numbers, but I need some way to nail things down, and tell what is good or bad with my implementation.

    When I do not understand what I am doing to find my way, I tend to get confused, discouraged, and wander off.

    Analysis is a habit. Trying to match patterns, and shoehorn things together, is a habit. But sometimes what I produce from those habits is only crazy.

    There is a certain spark, that is maybe inborn, maybe trained, or maybe both. But, to make something with that spark, I have to be well enough to make decisions. When I’m sick, when everything I do is compulsive, or following the path of least resistance, my results are often boring or nonsense.

    If people do not know to train and to practice, they do not hit the point of true creativity.

    If people are encouraged in their illnesses, instead of provided an environment that helps them get better, a lot fewer are going to achieve creative potential.

    1. Lots of folks here have touched on various aspects of creativity. I’ve done a lot of thinking about it and some research as well. Oh no, I feel a guest post coming on.

  13. Creativity is by definition nonconformist.

    It is =not= what came before, to whatever degree that may be.

    The left are, more than anything else, conformist. It is not possible to create anything truly new from inside the constraints of that conformity.

    I’m reminded of this: It’s always been assumed that zebra stripes are for camouflage. Yet objectively that can’t be right, because you can see ’em from miles away. Someone thought — what if it’s not to prevent ’em from being seen (obviously wrong) but to prevent predators, in particular lions, from singling out a =specific= zebra due to the visual confusion? (Having also noticed that early stages of a hunt tend to flit from one animal to another rather than picking out one in particular.) So the researchers caught a zebra and repainted it, just enough that it was easy to keep visual track of. Along came lions, and that repainted zebra lasted about two minutes. The lions fixed on it immediately and never lost track of it against the visual mass of the herd. Repeated several times, same results.

    Leftists live in fear of the lions, so conform as hard as they can so they won’t be singled out.

    1. Scientists.
      And what about the poor zebras, the test subjects of the experiment? I can guess, and also expect there were a lot of fat lions lying around.
      Whenever someone says, “Sacrifices must be made…” They always mean someone else.

      1. Lions were going to eat some of the zebras regardless, so it’s not like it did anything but select a particular zebra on a particular day. Some other zebra got to escape in turn. At least that day. Its turn may come another day.

        In some areas, lions mostly live on kills stolen from spotted hyenas (much better hunters).

        In any event, the point was how leftists use conformity as camouflage, and when one does attempt creativity, is immediately fed to the lions (in the form of leftist mobs).

      1. There’s a website that has the camouflage schemes for every single USN ship during World War 2, and the likely dates that a given ship in question was using a given pattern (the authorized patterns changed, and ships got repainted). One thing that the website notes is that Dazzle appeared to work better against ships, but was not so effective against aircraft. And since kamikaze airplanes were a much bigger threat late war in the Pacific than the Imperial Japanese Navy…

        IIRC, the notes mention that one of the Iowas (Missouri, I think) was launched with a Dazzle scheme that was promptly painted over when she arrived in Pearl Harbor after transiting the Panama Canal.

      2. Didn’t know about those ones (thanks!) but remember a picture of one with Dazzle that mimicked waves — it was really hard to see.

    2. *points at tigers*
      Zebras stick out TO US, our eye-display gamma/saturation is turned waaaaaaaaay the heck up so “black and white” is way different than “shades of gold and green going up and down” in full and clear sunlight.

      Now try something like tigers in dappled shadows, where our eyes have to deal with dappled light– they’re BRIGHT FREAKING ORANGE, with black stripes, should be easy to see!

      ….they’re not. If they’re moving, if they’re not, even when you KNOW that they’re there, it’s a large yard with American local trees in it and not much ground cover and you still have trouble seeing them.

      The described results would be consistent with making the zebra show up against the grass, as well as the rest of the herd.

      Now, with military, the purpose of camo is mostly to make it so you blend into eachother, and it DOES work rather well, even if you’ve got stuff that contrasts…..


      When I went looking for photographs of zebras against tall grass, I found that they’re not very common…because the zebras kinda fade into the grass, unless the color was turned up. (the grass looks funny)

      That is so cool!

      1. One of the big necessities of effective camo is to break up outlines. Some versions of digital camo use very small blocks, with low contrast between dull grays, browns nd greens. Result? At any distance the small blocks blend together, the outline is not obscred, and the camo is essentially useless. A study showed loud McLeod tartan – bright yellow orange and black plaid – was actually a good camo, because it is very effective at braking up the outline, and thereby defeating the brain’s standard image recognition algorithm

      2. First time I saw a gaggle of goslings waddling along the side of the road, I thought, “They’re bright yellow-green! How does that work for hiding?” As I got closer, the Goose family sauntered off the roadway into the roadside grass, and it was, “Where’d they go?”

      1. Oh, geez, they are not easy to see in tall grass or brush. Wild Earth’s Youtube channel has whole herds of zebras wandering around, and you can maybe see one or two, if they’ve got any cover.

        Of course, if they’re in short grass and open country, no problema.

  14. We have a lot of artists in the family, both sides, painting and musical. Exactly ONE is a professional artist. Selling various art pieces, everything from paints to chalk. She also teaches music for a variety of instruments including piano.

  15. I tend to think doing just about any job of work well, except, perhaps stacking bricks or coffee cans, requires at least a touch of creativity.

    Z-man, writing at Taki’s Magazine produced a rather thoughtful piece on why ____ rises to the top, or why absolutely all of our brightest and best are amazingly stupider than all the rest. I do think mediocrity at the top levels of most fields is a major factor in stifling creativity. Here’s the link, including my lead I’ve posted elsewhere;

    There’s much I don’t like about the z-man, often pompous, self righteous, etc., but I suspect there was a Jesuit in his educational woodpile, he can be concise, rational, quite cognizant and when he’s right, he’s right.

    & OK, I’ll admit Z-man’s facets that I find quite annoying are perhaps due to projection; there, except for the grace of lack of self awareness, I’d see me.

  16. I’m pretty sure the “lefitst” definition of “creativity” is “regurgitate everything I said back to me without making me realize it’s actually my idea.” Or at least, it was back when I graduated school a decade ago.

    There were exceptions, including one English prof who told us point-blank that if we just regurgitated her own lectures back to her, we’d fail the assignment. But by and large it was “tell me a version of my position that I haven’t heard before,” and that if we were lucky.

    1. In one of my college classes, a friend joked that all she needed to do to get an ‘A’ in the class was to disagree with everything I said.

  17. I heard that a lot from conservatives growing up in the eighties – ‘there’s something about being a leftist that makes them talented creators’. It was discouraging and, looking back, seemed to come out of the bitterness of people who gave up when they were told this.

  18. I’m a story recycler. I find bits of stories laying around and stick them together into books. If I do it well enough, readers forgive me my borrowings. (That and I break tropes for fun. I’m either Odd or fond of b-b-qing semi-sacred cows.)

    1. I love breaking expectations in writing. I did it often enough that people started expecting it, though… made things a bit trickier, but if you ponder long enough you can find a way to twist things in a different unexpected direction.

  19. In high school, my father used to drop me off around 0630 on his way to work. School didn’t start until 0800, so I sat in the cafeteria, planning to do my homework, but usually writing up satirical essays about the characters in the school for the amusement of my friends. It helped me start to up my skill level.

  20. I can’t make the worlds that I want, figuratively and literally speaking. And, don’t have the fine muscle control (and/or the patience) to draw the things that are in my head. My only option was to write, and I’d like to make enough from what I write to not have to do any number of jobs that are becoming more and more likely at this rate.

    And, there’s this little bit of me that would want to be Walt Disney-in that I can share my stories on a large scale.

  21. Having known artists who came to the US from the Soviet Union, the last thing that totalitarian socialists want is creativity. Anyone who is creative by definition is capable of thinking for themselves, and people thinking for themselves is simply intolerable under such ideologies and systems.

    1. Thought of something– it’s not exactly “someone who is creative,” like having brown hair– it’s who is able to be creative, which involves a LOT more things.

      You have to have inherent ability, AND practice, AND the material, AND the time, and you have to be secure enough to take the risks involved with creativity.

      People put some of themselves in what they create.

  22. It seems that a lot of people think that being creative means willing to break the rules of conventional society. But, as many an artist will tell you, you need to know why the rules are there in the first place and be able to follow them before it’s creative to break them. Any common criminal can break the rules, but it doesn’t make them creative. There are lot of youthful would-be race and stunt car drivers, but those who actually do those things for a living tend to be very disciplined and safe when they drive in public because they know how dangerous it can be. It’s a different matter on the track with safety features and other professionals than it is on the uncontrolled highway and the average unpredictable motorist who may be drunk, sleepy, or distracted.
    When what used to be avante-garde and edgy has become obligatory, I’ve been thinking that to be really creative and break the rules, being an old fashioned conservative with an unexpected twist is looking increasingly attractive.
    I’m finding that in my creative endeavors, I have to pay a lot of attention to nit-picky detail. So first I want to be an excellent craftsman, then I can do what I want with it. I may never be famous, but I will be happier.

  23. I wouldn’t know.
    I don’t create anything, I just break off bits of other things, and shape them into mosaics.
    (I have tried. But the results tend to be incomprehensible to anyone but me.)

  24. I wanted to write poetry and make money at it. I learned that just because I wanted it– that it didn’t make it so. Now a hobby. That’s when I turned to stories.

        1. I ran to that when I was in my 20s. I was smacked down so hard by fate– and finally I realized that like I wouldn’t be a musician in this lifetime like I wouldn’t be a teacher (I got sick every time I tried to get into the teaching profession). Anyway, I sing for fun or in choirs if I can find one. Even then I got thyroid cancer the same time I was getting solo parts in the choir which killed that.

        2. It’s like running your head into a brick wall over and over… After so many times, lying bleeding on the ground, you realize that the wall is not going to fall. So after a beating that you give yourself btw, you look for an alternate route. It was one of the reasons I went into the Navy. At the time I would rather go to an alternate fate than to spend the rest of my life stuck in a trap.

    1. Some poets are called lyricists. Did you ever try that kind of poetry?

      One thing that stops me from writing songs is I can’t write lyrics. I consider lyricists something like unicorns: amazing, unbelievable, unfindable by ordinary mortals.

      1. I used to in my 20s. Apparently that dried up when my dad was so sure that I “plagiarized” all of my songs (this extended to lyrics). But family didn’t believe anyone in music could survive on it. Nowadays I like writing forms– and very short poems.

        1. I can occasionally produce lyrics (more accurately called “doggerel”); because I never played an instrument, I usually have to start by hunting up a tune.

            1. Have you ever heard the joke about a group of scientists who figured out how to create life, so the went to God and told Him that we didn’t need Him anymore?

              He said “Alright, show me.”
              The scientists said: “Sure!”
              And picked up a handful of dirt.
              God said: “Ah ah ah! Get your own dirt!”

              The songs you parody didn’t make their own dirt; there isn’t any completely new creation of great art, and if you imagine it, you can see why– it wouldn’t WORK. It’s like being “creative” by just being different– functioning chairs are going to have similarities. A chair that doesn’t function is “original” but I’d argue it’s not very creative, because there’s an implication in creation that it’s…it’s a thing, that it functions as whatever it’s supposed to be.

              Weird Al has made a career out of turning someone else’s thing-made-of-dirt into better stuff-made-of-dirt; that the prior form is recognizable while the result is transformed is part of the art.

                1. *grins* That’s a very important step– I have internal versions of various relatives, too. (One of those ‘things’ mom taught us about when we were kids, like ‘social masks’ to help communicate with folks who can’t take unfiltered interaction.)

                  I learned to ask “would I take this person’s advice if they were standing here in the flesh?”

                  Sometimes it’s yes; sometimes it’s no, and sometimes it’s “I would listen and figure out what they’re missing.”

                2. From what you’ve mentioned of your father, the proper response is probably to the tune of:
                  “Rah rah rah! Kick’em in the jaw! Rah rah ree, kick’em in the knee! Rah rah rass! Kick’em in the other knee!”

              1. As usual, Kipling said it best:

                “When ‘Omer smote ‘is bloomin’ lyre,
                He’d ‘eard men sing by land an’ sea;
                An’ what he thought ‘e might require,
                ‘E went an’ took — the same as me!

                The market-girls an’ fishermen,
                The shepherds an’ the sailors, too,
                They ‘eard old songs turn up again,
                But kep’ it quiet — same as you!

                They knew ‘e stole; ‘e knew they knowed.
                They didn’t tell, nor make a fuss,
                But winked at ‘Omer down the road,
                An’ ‘e winked back — the same as us!”

      2. Play with making parodies. That way you’re juggling the fewest number of variables.

        Don’t even tackle a whole song at first. Just a stanza to start. Keep it simple. Match the rhythm, mimic the rhyme.

        Take “Paper Moon”, and rewrite it:
        It’s only a blood red moon,
        Sinking into a graveyard sea.
        But we won’t all starve to death
        If we can eat

            1. ” “Why is my District death-rate low?”
              Said Binks of Hezabad.
              “Well, drains, and sewage-outfalls are
              “My own peculiar fad.
              “I learnt a lesson once, It ran
              “Thus,” quoth that most veracious man: —
              You may hold with surface-drainage, and the sun-for-garbage cure,
              Till you’ve been a periwinkle shrinking coyly up a sewer.
              I believe in well-flushed culverts. . . .
              This is why the death-rate’s small;
              And, if you don’t believe me, get shikarred yourself. That’s all.”


      3. Well, first off, not everybody writes lyrics. Composers of good tunes are very popular folks.

        Secondly, lyrics are not difficult, per se. You just say what’s happening, and make it short enough to fit whatever music you’re doing Doesn’t have to rhyme, although that’s fun. Just has to fit the notes and rhythm pattern (“scan”).

        It’s like crossword puzzles, except poetic. There are literally people who are professional songwriters, who just brainstorm bits and pieces, and then assemble them like an Erector set. Other people just write songs straight through. Nobody can tell the difference, and there are tons of other ways to do it.

        It takes practice, that’s all. If you can write poetry, you can write songs. You might never really want to, but it’s always something you can do, if your brain gets interested.

        1. > Erector set

          Lots of lyrics don’t even make sense. I like some of them anyway.

          “Wait, let’s move
          I’m in fairy rings and tower beds
          “Don’t report this, ” three men said
          Books by the blameless and by the dead
          King in yellow, queen in red

          All praise
          He’s found the awful truth
          He’s found the saucer news!”

          Apparently they were placeholders while they worked on the music, and then they decided to cut the track as it was.

            1. “E.T.I.” from Blue Oyster Cult, from the Agents of Fortune album. The same one “Don’t Fear the Reaper” came on.

              When Terry Pratchett was knighted by Elizabeth II, he chose “Don’t Fear the Reaper” for his motto. His escutcheon, within the limits of heraldry, refers to Ankh-Morpork, and bears “Noli Timere Messorem”, which translates as “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”

            2. Don’t forget ‘Morning Final’, ’Tenderloin’, ‘Sinful Love’, and ’The Revenge Of Vera Gemini’ with Patti Smith. It was their breakthrough album, from 1976. Damn, that was 45 years ago!

              ‘Secret Treaties’ should have been the breakthrough, though. ‘Astronomy’, ‘Flaming Telepaths’ and ‘Subhuman’ are all incredible.

  25. Good post and good points, which got me thinking about my own situation… I forgot if I ever went into this here (probably, if nothing else I know I did on MeWe a few times) whatever it’s worth I had one high school teacher tell me I wouldn’t be happy doing anything other that creative work and suggested I write. Indie wasn’t a thing back then and I knew the odds of even getting a crappy trad contract and selling minuscule numbers were lottery-grade so I dismissed the idea and went to college for a plain old business degree, which…didn’t exactly work out, to make a long and miserable story short. I always thought it’d be neat to get into story and other planning for a video game along the lines of Final Fantasy but never came close, which is probably a good thing when you hear the horror stories out of modern game companies (and see the direction in which gaming in general has gone…I’m fast becoming a “get off my lawn” emulator hound). Funny thing is an pastor I knew who was a pretty good guy overall said he never saw me doing a plain old 9-5 job either, well into my last crappy (also not a plain old 9-5) job.

    …And damned if I know where all of this is headed, especially considering my past and the groups of writers I was in before I found our hostess, this group, and finally decided to join in. I don’t think I have the “can’t not write drive that Cedar describes, but is it because I never had it to start with or has it just taken too much damage from being around a lot of toxic environments in the past and a feeling like I’m never going to make a living off of this anyway so I just need to stuff it and focus on the practical? Plus the old black dog, can’t forget that SOB (especially since he’s been running wild today, damn rain). Of course I know that a day job is going to be needed for some time yet and get what ILOH says about treating it like a job if you’re doing it professionally for extra things to juggle mentally. And I do wish I had that knack for creativity when it comes to gadgets and messing with rule Karens, too… When the biggest part of your bad life training is getting the military attitude at home from a veteran stepfather as an Odd kid that really screws up your framework pretty good, especially combined with public school. I just hope it’s not too late for me to really turn things around, especially if one of the many grim predictions about the near future come true… Me getting way too close to 40 to be dealing with all of this is giving me enough headaches!

    1. In high school, as part of the pre-college package they gave us an aptitude test. Mine came back marked “Skewed off scale, retest required”.

      We never did the retest, but turns out it was pretty accurate after all. 😀

      1. Heh, seems fitting for most of us here… I don’t even remember much of what those tests told me aside from maybe research jobs. Which would be fine by me in theory but the degrees required to get there and the amount of woke idiots I’d have to put up with in most of those places doesn’t make that a viable option sadly. Not like I’m sure what is viable, though, and I’m way too old to be doing the entry level job hop…

    2. Write what you love. Write what you hate. Make ’em love, make ’em hate, make ’em wait. Sounds like you have a lot of fodder for fiction in your life.

      1. Well, the only thing that’s ever come through in my writing is that I played far too many Japanese video games with an anime flavor to them in one degree or another in the NES to PS2 era. And not as much fodder for fiction as you’d think, I was just a weird loser kid who became a weird loser teenager who became an weird loser young adult who’s just about to be a weird loser middle aged man. Nothing fun to write about there.

        1. “When the biggest part of your bad life training is getting the military attitude at home from a veteran stepfather as an Odd kid that really screws up your framework pretty good, especially combined with public school.”

          Sounds like plenty to write about there. Just turn stepfather into a troll and teachers into ogres attempting to enslave the poor halflings they imprison in their classrooms. Or maybe real dad is from Land of Fairie who only gets to visit our world once every 50 years, or if you want less fantasy trappings, real dad could be evil serial killer that stepdad was clumsily trying to prepare you to fight. Just make them close to who they are/were IRL

          I was 30 when I gave up the idea of making a living as a writer and launched my current career. I’ve always loved things I could puzzle out by research or ingenuity, so my career is also fulfilling. Still, my ability to write has been a huge asset. Software engineers who can write documents or white papers or even just explain things humorously and well as well as ferret out code bugs are rare and valued creatures.

          Now that I no longer need to make a living, I am turning back to writing. Find something you love, and transform the way you make a living into it or a way to use it in what you do.

          You don’t have to write, but “make friends with the monsters growling underneath your bed. Give a ball and invite all the voices in your head.” Be the hero of your own life even if you end up being a tragic hero.

          1. Honestly? That sounds like something that would get me laughed out of any writer’s group, respectable or not. And would probably get me sued, or something comparable in consequences, if said parties figured out who was what. Hero of my own life, however tragic? That’s giving me far, far too much credit. I barely rate a mention as an NPC in someone else’s tale.

            1. Writing groups right now tend to be infested with people who don’t LIKE fantasy or scifi.

              Modern fantasy’s grandfather got started with Hobbits! How old was Frodo when he went adventuring?

              1. How old was Frodo when he went adventuring?

                Insert rant about how that was the first main thing (of several) that pissed me off about the LotR movies…

          2. Software engineers who can write documents or white papers or even just explain things humorously and well as well as ferret out code bugs are rare and valued creatures.

            Not that I got paid a bundle. But ^This^. When your boss rare reviews contains the quote “I prefer to talk to d because she explains WHY, and takes the time to write it up, with pictures, if needed, even if I don’t ask. The guys won’t. I don’t have to call as often if I talk to d.” Note, this is from Both men and women clients. Which was expected with the women. Not so much with the men (or is hubby says “If I want to know, I’ll ask”).

            Now to be fair, if I got calls on a specific issue, and hadn’t already been asked for written detail by the third call, I took the time to write something up (with arrows, and geometric shapes encircling). Or if something was brand new or major change, guarantied we were getting a load of calls when it hit the updates. OR it was something I had to look up every time (system was quite extensive). Thus I ended up looking like a genus when they’d call or email and the appropriate document hit their email immediately. Could still took a call to go over it. But calls were a whole lot shorter and a lot less disruptive to what I was trying to track down, or when writing code, or both. The best ones were email/call question, send document copy, with a note “call if this doesn’t clear this up”, then blessed silence; which was the point. Note, I 100% would have been lousy in a traditional software support call center. Would not have worked, not at all.

          3. Software engineers who can write documents or white papers or even just explain things humorously and well as well as ferret out code bugs are rare and valued creatures.

            I think the one thing from my abortive law school career that has been most useful to my software career is the 1st-year course in legal writing, which translates very well to business communication and technical writing.

            But it took until a couple of years ago to learn something very important when writing business emails: put the conclusion/recommendation/request up front, and explanations a distant second.

            1. put the conclusion/recommendation/request up front, and explanations a distant second.

              Yes. Answer first. Short. As easy as possible to step through. Then Why.

              In most situations the “why” *doesn’t get read. No matter how important. But at least later when asked, you can highlight, and resend.

              Only time I put “why” in front was when the answer was “XYZ can’t be done. (or unacceptable timeline/expense)” Without (long) *recommendation/request* … Because …

              * Called the wrapped documentation syndrome. But back when documentation was dead tree version, the books would be wrapped in cellophane separate from the installation medium. When asked if they’d checked the documentation, answer “Yes”, go to user’s desk to help, and see documentation. … Still wrapped in cellophane … One can tell when this is happening now with electronic documents. But it is a lot more subtle and less provable. Just as frustrating.

  26. My dad’s mom was very creative especially drawing, painting, and music. I have a lot of her work hanging in my house. My mom was a really good photographer and could draw. So, there’s creativity on both sides. Sadly, I think my mom gave up photography because her parents thought it wasn’t “practical.” My grandmother (dad’s mom) was the daughter of an architect and woodworker. I have my great-grandfather’s hand-made, portable (for 1870 definitions of portable) writing desk. And my dad was really good in physics which is an oddly creative scientific field.

    I really have no excuses for not being creative myself, and all the explanation I need if genetics is any factor…
    But, I was told in jr. high and high school that I really wasn’t all that creative. Even though I had projects that I was told were creative. It wasn’t until recently that I decided to hell with it, I’m going to see what happens when I just go with the flow. Been pretty good so far.

  27. It’s creative if it’s new (or you arrived at it on your own), and if it works.
    If you arrived at it on your own and someone else did it that way before you, that’s not a failure; it’s a validation. And if you solved the problem with the same result, but got there by a different path, that’s creative.
    If it doesn’t work, then it’s not creative; BUT you now know what doesn’t work, and can avoid doing that while trying to create what you wanted in the first place. And just because what you created doesn’t work to do what you wanted, it might, just maybe, work to do something else. Creation by accident has resulted in more AH HA moments than anything else.
    Keep trying. Even if there are laws against it. (And it far too many fields of endeavor, there are laws against it.)

  28. “Fifty seven genders and a dog named Binny.”
    In part because it is INCONCEIVABLE! that two people who share a gender might be different from each other.

  29. About those 57 genders …

    I’m eventually going to have to get back into writing sci-fi, because I’ve got weird aliens living in my head. I was thinkng the other day about eusocial creatures: Hive insects, naked mole rats, etc. What would actually intelligent eusocial animals end up being like? The “soulless automata” angle has been done to death, and then reanimated and done again. The “hive as a metaphor for human sadist totalitarian societies” has also been done to death. Also it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense: Any organization that has to be held together by naked force isn’t going to be very successful in the long run.

    Thinking a bit of bees: I’m thinking more along the lines of “very large mafia families with gender roles that don’t map at all to human gender roles.” It would make sense that with some nontrivial population that shares filial loyalty that a hive would be a lot more internally self-sufficient than smaller human families. They would have less need to trade with each other, and probably *instinctively* less inclined to interact peacefully. (Though they’re intelligent, so a compelling advantage would be apparent to them. Just not comfortable.) They would naturally be extremely protective of their queen, because the queen has all the children. But the queen doesn’t necessarily *have* to be the brains of the outfit: Isn’t in the case of bee hives. That’s human bias. The neuter-females, doing all the work, would probably also make all the decisions. And since they can implicitly trust fellow family, it probably doesn’t follow that organization needs to be strict or formal. If there’s trade or diplomacy to be done, the male-drones, being the only ones with a natural reason to go to another hive, would probably fill the role of diplomats/used-car-salesmen.

    Dropping some human explorers into this setting: “Take me to your queen” probably ends up coming across as a perverted and invasive proposal.

    (Anyway, *thats* how you do 57 genders! (Well, 3ish.) 😛 )

    1. The Droyne from the Traveller TTRPG have 3 sexes and 6 biological castes. As in a young Droyne will undergo a casting ceremony and their body will physically change into the caste the ceremony chooses. Though there’s some psionic manipulation going on in the background during the ceremony. Some of the sourcebooks explain it in detail and maybe it’s on one of the fan wikis.

      That’s what I liked about Traveller, they had some pretty alien aliens.

    2. Olaf Stapledon did some hive creatures, but he set up so the individuals are all sub-sentient; the hive as a whole is an intelligent individual with several million bodies, which interacts with other hive/nest individuals.

    3. The “queen is near-mindless figurehead baby factory” thing is done a lot when folks are trying to be clever about the ‘queen’ thing– I’d suggest giving her other jobs, maybe even teaching all of her children or maybe even keeper of tradition and knowledge (see the modern role for non-physically-able characters where they’re the computer geek/researcher), she just doesn’t LEAD.

          1. There’s a very clever isekai/RPG lit webnovel (written by a US/Canada person) where a guy is reborn in a fantasy dungeon as an ant. (Okay, a magical ant.) It’s called Chrysalis.

      1. *sighs* And before someone takes it wrong, when I say “non-physically-able,” I actually MEAN exactly that– in settings where most of the team is super-powered, it’s a job for the normal human. Whatever the standard for “do physical stuff with the team” is, the character falls short.

        1. Good luck!

          Not sure what media you’re seeing, so just wanted to warn about what twists were going to make folks think it was a reheat.

      2. Pharaoh/High Priest type?

        Going through a history of Egypt it struck me that the Pharoah, while it did have a military role seemed more like a priestly caste where their power mostly derived from their ability to call on the Gods, and the followers of the gods to do and fund things.

        Other entities actually seemed to control what we’d see as more typical government functions and power centers. And that caused the fracturing into the various warlord periods, when the lead Pharaohs spent all their political capital borrowing from the groups who actually built stuff.

        Still don’t fully understand it, but the more I learn about the way their governance worked, the more I think not was profoundly alien to anything we have today.

        1. *bounces off of history for a bit*

          Oooh, I just thought of a twist that is a twist because it’s not a twist at all…

          The “queen” that is the king’s mother. That’s where she’s go no formal power at all, BUT she’s got an in with her son so if there is nobody else you can go to, you can go to the queen. Who has no official position, after all, it’s not an OFFICAL contact….

          Now take that out to where she’s that to everyone who is anyone.

          She’s got no power, but she’s the ultimate “I know a guy….”

          1. In China, this was the Dowager Empress. And quite frequently, she was the one actually running the country. As dynasties grew older, it was common to have emperors who were figureheads for their mother (and were forcibly removed from the throne if they tried to assert their authority), as their mother had been playing political games since before the emperor met his wet nurse, and was *really* good at it.

            This tended to lead to lots of corruption and nepotism favoring the original clan of the Dowager Empress.

            1. I’m familiar with it because that’s why Mary has the title of “Queen of Heaven,” with the tradition of asking her to intercede. (Something not often taught, sadly, because “everyone knows” what a queen is you don’t need to explain that! ::points at Elizabeth and rolls eyes::)
              When one knows they could just as Himself, but don’t feel worthy…well, you can ask His mom….

          2. See: Kingdom of Israel/Judea. The Israelite kings copied the Canaanite practice of having lots of wives/concubines. But the only one who mattered, politically, was the mother of the King/heir.

            This is echoed in the Catholic view of Mary; she’s queen, not because of her husband Joseph, but because of her son, Jesus.

              1. Egypt had the mother of the king as a great power long before Israel and Judah were a gleam in Moses’ eye.

                Occasionally it would be formalized by making her the King’s Great Wife — not that they were husband and wife in the procreative sense, more like recognizing her as Most Important Woman At Court.

          3. China had the big problem that since filial piety was so big, it was held that obedience to the Empress Dowager was vital to the realm. A fact that quite a number of them abused.

        1. From what I remember, Pratchett’s version was a lot more…. Scottish.

          Like nuclear grade Nanny Ogg.

          If the idea is to not so directly to human expectations….

          I was thinking more like how Batman tends to run the com system when the Justice League is in space, or even Mycroft Holmes vs Sherlock.

            1. Point. Felt like more of a side-effect of being Uber Powerful Matriarch… was picturing more of a nerdy role, waaaaay less power.

      3. Ooh, what if the queen doesn’t lead but she does determine what genetic predisposition her offspring have, conciously?

        “Mother, we need ten farmers, three weavers, and a salesman.”
        “Forget it. I’m laying nothing but musicians.”

    4. Since eusocial creatures have what amounts to caste assigned at birth, I suspect you’d need castes that have intelligence at ‘really smart ape’, focused on whatever their role is. Like the low-caste humans in Brave New World, deliberately stunted in the gestation tube.

      Wouldn’t surprise me if we end up with uplifted animals as enhanced servant creatures, for example.


      1. “…if we end up with uplifted animals as enhanced servant creatures,”

        Pierre Boulle would like a word with you.

    5. I could swear bee people has been done. Not in this specific way, mind you, but I have vague memories of reading something like that when I was much, much younger…. like 30+ years ago.

      Now I have to go see if I can find it…

        1. That’s not the one I was thinking of… the one I read was aliens with six fingers, but thanks anyway.

    6. From a different direction: What would the creature look like if _humanity_ were, in addition to being individuals, also a _collective_ creature? (Full disclosure: I swiped the notion from Revelation 21)

      Influence would go both directions. Given the way people act collectively, I’d expect the collective creature to be more like a demon than anything else–though with a spot of Divine surgery at work.

      1. Some possibilities:

        More Than Human — Theodore Sturgeon
        Subspace Encounter — ‘Doc’ Smith
        Stardance and sequels — Spider and Jeanne Robinson

      2. Twitter rules the world? Twitter’s id manifests by giving orders to minions? 2020, but more so? 😛

        There was a beautiful webcomic back when I paid attention to such things (early 2000s) called “A Miracle of Science”. Very fun story, even if it grates philosophically with my worldview. In the story there were a group of Mars colonists that governed their planet by some sort of electronic telepathy mediated consensus. One of their psychologists was dispatched to earth to help the UN thought-police (no, literally, that’s what they call themselves, and what they do) hunt down a rogue mad scientist. Interesting choice of protagonists. The author makes it work within the conceits of the story.

        As a mad scientist myself, I rather find myself in the antagonist’s corner: Supportive of solitary geniuses freedom to create, even if robot marauders occasionally result.

    1. Only, that one lies constantly. Then lets loose with that hideous cackle when called on it.

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