'Its origin and purpose still a total mystery': Leavis and Kubrick on creativity

Cranfield, S. 2012. 'Its origin and purpose still a total mystery': Leavis and Kubrick on creativity. Leavis: an International Conference. Downing College, Cambridge 28-29 September 2012

Title'Its origin and purpose still a total mystery': Leavis and Kubrick on creativity
AuthorsCranfield, S.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

Fifty years after the ‘Two Cultures’ controversy, what continuing value is there in the kinds of critical arguments F. R. Leavis (1895-1978) was urging upon us then, notably about how to 'read' human creativity? One positive answer to this question lies in our seeing Leavis in a radically different contemporaneous context, in relation to the work of the film director Stanley Kubrick (1928-99). Leavis's and Kubrick’s oeuvres, while conceived independently in different media, can be seen to share characteristic 60s' socio-artistic and philosophic concerns: about how to affirm the complex nature of human creativity, with its fragile sense of hope, in the face of technologically enhanced destructiveness. In particular, Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) provides an illuminating foil to some of Leavis’s ideas of this period, and vice versa: about social learning and the dynamics of creativity, the nature of human and artificial intelligence, and the omnipresent threat of hubris arising from what Leavis dubbed the technologico-Benthamite mindset. If, as Leavis and Kubrick similarly contend, creativity is a capacity over which humanity cannot exert complete transmuting control, then this is an idea that surmounts period anxieties and continues to challenge. A major part of that challenge, then as now, at least for those of us concerned with critical thinking, is to advance this claim responsibly as thought, to acknowledge the element of mystery in creativity while remaining firmly this side of the mystical.

Keywordscreativity, Kubrick, Leavis
Year29 Sep 2012
ConferenceLeavis: an International Conference
Publication dates
Completed29 Sep 2012

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