Can we be creative and original working in isolation?

The current debate about whether we should be globalist and internationalist in our outlook, or more inward looking and self-reliant and protective, has implications in the sphere of the imagination, creativity, and innovation.

One train of thought is that the stimulus of diversity is an important impetus to the creative process and for the development of a broad artistic viewpoint.

However, even in a homogenous society diversity and variety in the creative process will be present because of the inherent differences in each individual person and their approach and outlook on life.

The philosopher and social commentator Eric Hoffer holds the view that we need the dynamism of densely populated areas and their diversity to stimulate imagination and innovation.

Speaking of the evolution of the creative process, Hoffer says:

“I’ve found that everything creative comes from the city…nothing of importance has ever come from the village – how could anything be invented in places where strangers are not welcome? Man became human in the city; without the city, man would have been nothing.”(1)

(1) Quoted from Calvin Tomkins’ book, Eric Hoffer: An American Odyssey

— Dennis Mellersh


About Dennis Mellersh

Dennis Mellersh is an independent writer, journalist, editor, and editorial consultant.
This entry was posted in The creative process in society and culture and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Can we be creative and original working in isolation?

  1. The Philosphere says:

    Such an intriguing post. It’s important to make more of the underlying problems that get stirred up politically. I think we’re in danger of moving too far from the kind of openness and ‘internationalism’ that breeds innovation and progress!

  2. This is an interesting theory: That we need original external stimuli in order to generate innovation and creativity. There is probably a great deal of truth to this, but I sure enjoy the idea of quiet contemplation away from the bustling chaos of big cities.

    • Agreed, it’s nice to get some peace and quiet, and to your point, the English poet Wordsworth described the creative process in writing poetry as “emotion recollected in tranquility.”

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