Searching for inspiration

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Monday, Apr 12, 2010

Sometimes I feel so uninspired. Or should I say, (Sometimes I Feel so) Uninspired.. Usually what happens when I feel this way is I begin driving myself with ever more relentlessness through posts in my RSS reader, looking for something to spark my interest. But what I always seem to forget in these moods is how many ideas and articles I have already set aside because I was too busy to deal with them at the time. I probably have dozens of things that I have either starred or shared in Google Reader, thinking I would write about them later here. And I have a stack of articles printed out as well that I have been meaning to read and write about. Yet when I am in this mood, I never feel like going back to that stuff. (Once I shelve something for later, I am essentially logged it for permanent limbo.) In fact, the essence of the mood seems to be a weariness with the backlog, a sense of futility, and a craving for some deus ex machina that will crank the wheel of my “creativity” without my having to do much of anything.

So I press forward it pursuit of novelty, because novelty seems to work that way—as canned creativity. The freshness of some particular meme can generate a seemingly automatic response: “So and so recently wrote X about Y. I agree/disagree with X, but believe that one must also think about Y this way. Also consider what Z said about Y when responding to so and so as well.” (In a post about the sudden outburst of journalistic cheerleading for the economy, Ryan Avent notes how this mentality among journalists can stampede them into manufacturing new received wisdom.) Novelty can stand in as a replacement for deliberation, can simulate the feeling of having thought something through, simply because it leaves a residue that’s similar to what I gain after I’ve thought my way through to what seems to me a fresh synthesis or analysis. When I go to the stream of fresh new content, it is because I want to avoid having to think anything through but still yield the same reward. I think that is the danger inherent in novelty generally.

A corollary to this is that I generally need to immediately think of something interesting to write about something I read or else I won’t bother. This also seems like a problem.

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