Some people love creativity for its own sake, for the exhilarating feeling of making something new in a world that has seen, heard and tasted everything. Most people in our culture understand creativity in the context of success or failure, the urge to invent being a transactional impulse that can move someone to an exalted place if sold, or a depressing place if creativity is left unmonetized. If you’re really good at a hobby, most people smile blandly, understanding only what the world considers financial/artistic success, that of the professional. Sometimes they may be moved to say “you should do this professionally!” a high compliment.
I know I have nothing to say to the world on this score, but I can assure you that the first view of creativity is the better view, in every possible way. Do what you love, as much as you can and feel grateful for that love and the feeling of fulfillment creativity brings.
Now I think of the ultimate transactional American, former president Donald Trump. To men like him only domination matters. You are a sucker and a detestable chump if you let anybody beat you, that’s all there is to it. His father Fred was a psychopath who amassed a vast fortune. His mother, Mary, a dirt poor immigrant from a godforsaken Scottish island, married the wealthy psychopath and produced several children. The oldest boy, Fred Jr. had all the tools, intellectual, social, emotional and otherwise, to do anything he set his mind to.
Fred Jr. was, according to his little brother Donald, loved by everyone. He was, Donald said, a great athlete, funny, popular, the first person people would call if they were in trouble, he was an amazing person, everyone liked him, everyone wanted to be friends with him. In Donald’s version this is what killed his older brother, he was too nice, people fucked him and he drank himself to death. Talk about a lesson learned.
Dad started paying baby Donald $200,000 dollars a year back in 1947. By the time little Donald was eight, he was a self-made millionaire. When Fred Jr., managing a Trump property, did a kind thing for tenants without forcing a long court fight, his father flew into a rage and Fred Jr. opted out of the family business and got a commercial pilot’s license. Little Donald, a distracted student and schoolyard bully, was eventually sent to a reform school for wealthy juvenile delinquents, after buying a case of switchblades.
After Fred Jr.’s banishment the far less talented Donald was reluctantly groomed to become the heir of Fred Trump senior’s real estate empire. Starting with every advantage in the world, except the love of his parents, Donald launched many closely held businesses where he was the boss, made every decision, the buck stopped with him. He learned young about the power of unscrupulous lawyers, guys like the satanic Roy Cohn, ready to bend and break the laws to prevail, working on a gigantic retainer that was a business expense. He learned to stiff people who worked for him, get revenge on anyone who tried to take him to court, he declared bankruptcy over and over. He refused to lose, even though every business he ever launched, outside of his personal brand, failed. If you lose, you are a loser and deserve your humiliation.
Do you have any doubt that Donald was at the center of the seven tentacled plot to overturn the results of an election that humiliated him? His only choice, faced with losing again, was to lash out desperately and enlist a group of blindly ambitious toadies to carry out his crazy plans. They did so. Is any of it surprising? I’m looking forward to the rest of the case against him, laid out as clearly as in the opening hearing the other night. Laying out that case persuasively, in the face of virulent propaganda, is an act of great, other-directed creativity.