Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Creativity Hub

So if we assume for a minute that the world isn’t in fact ending in December 2012, then there are some pretty exciting plans afoot for our beloved city. Word on the street is that everybody’s favourite premier, Helen Zille, has Cape Town earmarked to become a creative capital of the world. I think that’s a fantastic strategy! For a start, it's already a city that's teeming with creative buzz. And creativity and innovation are what make regions such as California so successful. And it means politics which is about solutions, not problems. Instead of the familiar nationalistic diatribes against colonialism and racism, we find ourselves with the prospect of an intelligent, dynamic and forward-thinking strategy; from whinging to action. And becoming a creative capital of the world is exciting for many reasons:

It means us residents will live in a city which fosters the arts, innovation and creativity. More gallery openings, more live gigs, better graffiti, quirkier designers, more innovative companies that are inspiring places to work and inject energy into the environment. Nothing stimulates growth better than creativity. 

It means the best part of globalisation – the spread of ideas and of interesting people. Opening our city to the world’s most remarkable personalities and ideas. And opening our city's residents to our own creative geniuses. A city always in Beta. It’ll open our eyes, widen our frame of reference, and dispel any parochialism that may linger.

I love the idea of the 21st Century as a sort of neo-medieval network of global cities. A city is a much more tangible place to relate to than a country. We are citizens of cities, and our cities have a distinct character and history. Nations, on the other hand, are contrived and never did us any favours. The problem, of course, is that the nation still decides on immigration policy and so if Helen’s ingenious plan to win the war on talent and attract innovation to the mothercity is to work, it looks like a battle for regional autonomy also needs to take place. South Africa as a federation? Ha! We live in exciting times.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fantasy to make you move

I finally saw Avatar last night, after weeks of it being sold out every night and then me disappearing for the vac into a province that is only now catching on to the newfangled concept of cinema.  It was just as fantastic as I had been anticipating (and I’m a master at sleepless-child-at-christmas anticipation.) The visuals and imagery were gratuitously stunning – to the point where you are genuinely disappointed to have to rejoin the real world afterwards. I was also delighted to discover an actor worthy of a crush again! Let’s hope Hollywood is coming out of its obsession with prepubescents. In return, I guess I’ll have to become open-minded enough to consider marrying an Aussie. But predictably, what really tickled me about Avatar was the allegory. So I engaged the one person I know puts up with my idealistic rants (my brother) in an email debate about the evils of the West. And he told me, after a few well-placed supremacist remarks to make my blood boil, that the problem with ‘green crusaders’ is their lack of a sense of humour.
Let’s disentangle the Avatar allegory a little. It was not only about the destruction of the environment and all the natural wisdom and biodiversity in it, but also about the subjugation of indigenous peoples by colonialists. The first was started by the West and is now pursued ferociously by everyone; the second was particular to the West but driven by the same economic forces that drive the first. And try as I might, I can’t really see what’s funny about either of them. But I do see his point. As he said, being overly earnest doesn’t get anyone’s attention. Entertain people or they will wander off. So the trick is to find the humour in an essentially grim subject. But entertainment is different to humour. The arts world has been entertaining us with stories of our stupidity for years. I remember reading The Wump World as a little boy, and, more recently, movies like Wall-E and Avatar make similar pleas. Humour, on the other hand, lets people off the hook and lets them feel better about not doing anything. And I'm not convinced entertainment galvanises people into action either. So how exactly do you change people’s behaviour to fix the world? It’s a good thing I’m in marketing – maybe one day I’ll know the answer to that.
In the meantime, I guess I better throw some alien sex scenes into my book. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year!

So 2010 is upon us, and it feels pretty good. I’m hoping that the rule with New Years Eve parties is similar to that expounded on Sex and the City about weddings; that the more disastrous the wedding, the better the marriage. Because my New Years Eve was spent surrounded by food I’m allergic to, missing the party I was intending to go to, and paying R250 for a terrible cover band in a nondescript venue in a town in which I knew almost no people. It culminated in my passing out on the pavement at 2am like a derelict homeless person or teenage Essex girl and having to be rescued by my father - something that has never happened in all my 25 and three quarter years. But the defeat, symbolic as it was of my emotional state towards the end of last year, was oddly cathartic. Somehow in that broken mess I found my resolve, my backbone and my optimism. So instead of throwing my voice in with those who actually felt The Recession and shouting good riddance to 2009, I’m looking forward to 2010 with an unfamiliar and welcome lightness of being. If the Mayans are right, we’ve got less than three years to work with, and I’m not going to lose another moment. The non-believer in New Year’s resolutions finds himself plotting everything from running the Two Oceans to learning violin, falling in love, decorating the hell out of my new flat, and finishing my book. This is going to be the year, people. Yee-fucking-ha! as the cowboys get to say.