THE GRACE OF GREAT THINGS: Creativity and Innovation by Robert Grudin

THE GRACE OF GREAT THINGS: Creativity and Innovation

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this intriguing attack on complacency in modern America, Grudin details the unique forces inherent in a liberal democracy that discourage innovation. According to Grudin (Time and the Art of Living, 1982), creative gain requires a substantial amount of integrity and pain. It follows that our open society's success in distancing its members from discomfort may have tragic consequences, since the more easeful an individual's life, the less likely he or she is to produce innovative products or ideas. A liberal democracy such as ours, Grudin argues, stifles creativity as well (though more subtly than authoritian regimes) by refusing to establish a hierarchy of ideals and by accepting all new ideas as equally valid, thus failing often to recognize or properly encourage truly original work. In academia, an atmosphere of supposed universal tolerance sets the stage for resentment when the discomfort caused by a new, disruptive view arises: ""clubbiness,"" timidity, and overspecialization are the result. Grudin is careful to add that a liberal democracy is nevertheless more conducive to innovation than any other existing system, as long as its potentially creative citizens are alert to the hidden obstacles in their path. He is especially convincing when discussing the creative-writing process and academia's means of stifling creative achievement. His efforts to expand his theories to other areas (politics, science, etc.) are also reasonably successful. Provocative ideas, but somewhat dry execution.

Pub Date: May 23rd, 1990
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/ Houghton Mifflin