Answer: Because we line up to buy them.
That’s our answer to an essay by Thomas Frank on Salon.com that raises the obvious, but rarely asked, question: Why do books claiming they will help us be more creative and innovative all use the same time-worn examples and display all the creativity of a Velvet Elvis painting? (Note: Frank does not refer to Velvet Elvis in his essay. That’s just us trying to be creative.)
If the authors are presenting themselves as experts on innovation, they will tell us about Einstein, Gandhi, Picasso, Dylan, Warhol, the Beatles. If they are celebrating their own innovations, they will compare them to the oft-rejected masterpieces of Impressionism — that ultimate combination of rebellion and placid pastel bullshit that decorates the walls of hotel lobbies from Pittsburgh to Pyongyang. Those who urge us to “think different,” in other words, almost never do so themselves. Year after year, new installments in this unchanging genre are produced and consumed. Creativity, they all tell us, is too important to be left to the creative. Our prosperity depends on it. And by dint of careful study and the hardest science — by, say, sliding a jazz pianist’s head into an MRI machine — we can crack the code of creativity and unleash its moneymaking power. That was the ultimate lesson. That’s where the music, the theology, the physics and the ethereal water lilies were meant to direct us. Our correspondent could think of no books that tried to work the equation the other way around — holding up the invention of air conditioning or Velcro as a model for a jazz trumpeter trying to work out his solo.
Read the complete essay: “TED talks are lying to you,” Salon.com