Podcast 12: the seven deadly creative sins

A few years ago I was thinking about my tendency toward jealousy and my occasional bursts of wrath. These are among my less appealing qualities but I insist on hanging onto them nonetheless.

As I thought about these shortcomings, I realized that they constituted two of the deadly sins described in Dante, and that in fact, if I was completely honest with myself, I was guilty of all seven: Envy, wrath, pride, greed, lust, gluttony and sloth. Not in my life in general, but specifically when it comes to creative matters.

I decided to write a series of blog posts in the subject which I enjoyed and met with muted response upon publication here. Nonetheless, that series remained very interesting to me and so I decided to revisit them in my new life as an internationally acclaimed podcast host.

This week’s podcast is a fresh version of the seven deadly sins as they apply to creative endeavors, retooled and updated for a new generation, and scored lightly with well-mixed Gregorian chants.

I’m not sure if the listening audience will be any more interested in them than the reading one was, but I enjoy hurling things at the wall and waiting to see what sticks.

If you don’t think the deadly sins apply to you, spend a half hour with me and your headphones and let me know if I convince you otherwise.

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Episode transcript (but please listen to the podcast!) Continue reading “Podcast 12: the seven deadly creative sins”

The Sin of GREED

Creativity, like songbirds, can be bought and sold. But songs sound differently from behind the bars of a gilded cage, when sung for a supper.

Greed makes artists compromise. They follow trends rather than their hearts.  They measure success in sales rather than in the call of their souls. They agree to distort their work to fit corporate agendas and market demands. Greed turns originality into predictability into a worthless tin horn.

Ironically, greed rusts the very things that made an artist’s work valuable in the first place. Greed transforms artists into celebrities, hogging the limelight, addicted to fame, prisoners of their egos, and detached from the pure, original source of their creativity.

Greed distorts and cripples the true purpose of art, turning the fruits of personal expression into a mere commodity. An artist’s heart-felt response to the world shrivels into a rich man’s prized asset, garnering millions at auction, then hidden away, another coveted diamond on a dragon’s hoard.

The opposite of greed is generosity.

Greed prevents artists from sharing their work with the world, afraid it will be poached. Rather than joining a creative community, inspiring others, collaborating, teaching, sharing their insights and lessons, greedy artists hide in their studios, squirreling away their work, waiting for the best offer. They refuse to support causes, to contribute their creativity, to reap the benefits of selflessness.

Greed clouds perspective, skews values, saps generosity.

Greed is a symptom of fear.

When you are afraid of being deprived, you hoard possessions against any possible future famine, no matter how remote. When you are afraid of being passed over and neglected, left to shrivel and die, you hoard attention. Afraid of competition, you crouch on your mountain of toys so no one else and play with them. Afraid of being taken advantage of, you refuse to open the door to others. Afraid of being vulnerable, you amass a pile of any stuff than could be a bulwark or a weapon. You bank your work rather than letting it see the light of day and of possible critique.

Greed blocks your way. Generosity and creativity clear it.

First in a series on seven deadly creative sins.