Creating vs Consuming

[Originally posted five years ago.]

I have a wise neighbor, Mike. We were chatting about various things and the concept of the creative process vs the consumptive process came up. Here’s a brief synopsis.

When you consume it’s like burning fuel in a fire. To retain the emotive high you get when you consume you must feed the flame. You buy a pair of shoes, they’re new for a week or two, but then they’re not—and you have to buy something new to keep that consumptive itch scratched. You consume a mobile game, a TV show, a movie, a blog post, a magazine article or a book as soon as you’re done, you want more. The flame of consumption cannot be allow to dwindle and die. Consuming becomes an addiction. In the case of oxygen, water and limited food intake, consumption is a good thing, otherwise, well, you die. But consumption of everything else becomes a losing battle—the inferno of your desire to gobble up those unfulfilling objects and experiences—will never be appeased.

In contrast, I give you the creative process.

When you create—anything—that creation becomes an established part of you. If you write, or paint, sculpt or build something the end product of your effort, even if the physical object doesn’t endure, will extend you. That is, the fact of its creation will always exist within you. You made it. Creation is an additive process. Every time you create you extend yourself beyond your prior boundaries. If you produce media art like pictures, music, or video, or you create motion art such as dance or activity/skill based (skating, skydiving, surfing, climbing, etc.) you are creating, you are adding to yourself (and to the world).

It’s somewhat ironic don’t you think?

  • Creation, the act of giving of yourself and your efforts to the world—adds.
  • Consumption, the act adding stuff onto yourself—subtracts.

9 thoughts on “Creating vs Consuming

  1. This is a good point: we who create are adding something (hopefully useful tools) to the world. I wonder if book reviewers are also adding, since they create commentary about the books that we write.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A hybrid activity it would seem. I suppose the balance would be found in the quality and constructive quotient of the review. Did I just save myself hours of wasted time by reading this review, bypassing the targeted work? Was I directed into a whole new way of thinking due to the recommendations found?
      An intriguing adjunct to this proposition.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I see it as more of a loop, a sort of yin yang thing. Everything (or many things) you consume becomes raw material used in the process of creation. Creativity seems to be about taking those disparate sources and tying them together in novel ways.

    We could say that novelty has been added to the world, but that gets into whether we have free will (in the strongest contra-causal sense) or are just causal nexuses. If the latter, then the novelty was always there. We just concentrated it in a new location.

    Liked by 1 person

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