Creativity in an age of constraint

2019 John Bonython Lecture for the Centre for Independent Studies
Freedom of speech Political correctness Politics Creativity Arts citizen participation

The proliferating dos and don’ts of political correctness, the predations of ‘gotcha’ identity politics and the hypersensitivities of the #MeToo movement are battering and boxing creativity.

There is a danger in faithfully following this host of concocted rules and dutifully avoiding stepping on a plethora of toes. Among other things, it could lead to bad, obedient art. It’s time the creative professions pushed back.

Lionel Shriver challenges the propositions that any of us ‘own’ our own culture, that a culture is even subject to strict definition, and that a culture has any borders that can therefore be rigidly policed. “Because we are all elements in other people’s landscapes, our experience—how we act, what we say, what traditions we observe—is also an ingredient in other people’s experience. Thus I would submit: we do not even own exclusive title to ourselves. I reject this hoarding, hostile, selfish relationship to ‘identity’. Better that we all conduct our work and social lives in a spirit of sharing, generosity, exploration, curiosity, experimentation, and even willingness to fail in our sincere efforts to understand one another.”

Related Information

Lionel Shriver: Identity politics, political correctness and #MeToo (video)

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CIS Occasional Paper 172