Easy Chair — From the June 2013 issue

Getting to Eureka

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The writer for Harper’s Magazine had a problem. Books he read and people he knew had been warning him that the nation and maybe mankind itself had wandered into a sort of creativity doldrums. Economic growth was slackening. The Internet revolution was less awesome than we had anticipated, and the forward march of innovation, once a cultural constant, had slowed to a crawl. One of the few fields in which we generated lots of novelties — financial engineering — had come back to bite us. And in other departments, we actually seemed to be going backward. You could no longer take a supersonic airliner across the Atlantic, for example, and sending astronauts to the moon had become either fiscally insupportable or just passé.

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  • Stephen Anderson

    Just an aside about “urban theorists, with their celebrations of zesty
    togetherness.” The glibness of that intellectual terrain is a problem, a
    reactionary miscount of the subversive, anonymous, conflictual
    characteristics so vital to cities. Still, the relationship between city
    and creativity is strong, to say the least, and has much to do with
    structures between selves, others, and situations. I agree that we
    should be wary of concerns with creativity that are instrumental,
    consumerist, naive, or formulaic. We should also hold urbanity as a
    bright spot, and take care not to dismiss that as we dismiss its less
    enlightening theorizations. The sustenance of the city’s creative
    dimensions merits our attention — more so as much of that attention to
    date has been misguided.

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