Create Useless Beauty
Take a gander around the natural world and you will see a remarkable diversity. Even in the depths of the oceans where the creatures are nightmare fodder there is incredible diversity and beauty.
I’ve had the phrase “useless beauty” stuck in my head since I read Franky Schaeffer’s book, Addicted To Mediocrity (*) as a teenager. In reference to the diversity and beauty of nature he cited the jellyfish as an example. It exists within the ecosystem simply because it is. It exists because the creator designed it to be there. Therefore, it is beautiful.
What I mean by “create useless beauty” is this:
Create a piece of art because it has no other function than to beautify your presence, illuminate your thoughts, elevate your attitude, satisfy your creativity, to please only yourself.
Create a piece of art you can throw away or give away.
Create a piece of art you can leave behind on a park bench or a cafeteria table.
The Beatles sang, “I heard the news today, oh boy.”
Every day we are surrounded by examples of the negativity, despair, the depths of depravity mankind can conjure and inflict upon one another on a daily basis.
However it does not take much searching to find the beauty of humanity in a shared experience of creativity.
And it begins with each of us creating useless beauty.
- Write a short story scribbled on a Post It Note
- Draw a random sketch on the back of a serviette
- Record a hastily composed melody on your phone
- Learn a favourite song, record it and post it to your blog or youtube
- Fold an origami flower or a crane or a boat
- Draw marginalia in the borders of the book you’re reading
- Deface magazine pictures with a permanent marker
- Take a picture a day (of the same spot, of something interesting you see about your day, but please don’t make it a selfie unless you’re making a documentary about yourself)
- Decorate your office desk (or someone else’s desk).
- Make a model aeroplane like you did when you were a kid.
- Bake a cake (packet mix cakes are perfectly acceptable)
Make it something you would willingly give away, throw away or delete (don’t throw away the cake, eat it. Better yet, share it with others over a cup of tea).
Creativity is about communication.
Communicate first with yourself then communicate with others.
Practice random acts of creativity.
Create useless beauty.
(*) For those of you who have read “Addicted to Mediocrity” I realise I am taking a different angle to what Schaeffer was proposing, that of excellence in the arts. I believe in excellence in the arts, but I also believe in creativity as an integral part of the human experience. Excellence comes through refinement and dedication, learning and education in the arts. Schaeffer is addressing a cultural issue; I am addressing the need for creativity to be an important expression of our humanity.