Merritt College TED Talk of Elizabeth Gilbert Video Discussion

This Ted Talk of Elizabeth Gilbert is a gem. It’s one of those rare proposal arguments that really gets “outside the box”!

Beware, however! She covers a lot of ground very quickly, and unless you have a discerning eye and ear you’re liable to mistake her thesis as being something vague about “artistic suffering” or “be creative no matter what.” You’d be seriously wrong if you did.

Since Gilbert’s introduction is a bit long — after all, her proposal about the nature of the artistic process is a little wacky from the modern perspective — so you’ll need to look several minutes into her talk to identify her thesis.

A tip: it has to do with the nature of creativity.

Your assignment: in a well-developed, short essay, answer these questions. Don’t cheat yourself by not using your intelligence and research capabilities on this one! 😉

  • Can you state the thesis (or main idea) of Gilbert’s Ted Talk in one to two sentences?
  • Give three pieces of evidence she offers to support her main idea.
  • Do you agree with Gilbert’s thesis? Why or why not?
  • How do you think of your own creativity? Where do you think it comes from? Have you ever had an experience of “brushing up” against your creativity in a powerful way?

P.S. Sometimes confusion arises between the word used by Gilbert in her talk, the “daimōn,” and our modern word, “demon.”

It’s a mistake not difficult to make, since the origin of the word “demon” is the ancient Greek word daimōn, but keep in mind the original meaning of daimōn was actually far closer to “guardian angel” than to our modern usage of the word to signify “evil spirit.”

Here is the etymology, or word origin, of the word “demon”:

“Demon” Middle English: from medieval Latin, from Latin daemon, from Greek daimōn ‘deity, genius’; also from Latin daemonium ‘lesser or evil spirit,’ from Greek daemonion, diminutive of daimōn.

Get the idea? Early Christianity “demonized” the polytheistic spiritual cosmos of the Ancients, converting essentially benevolent spiritual entities into evil forces that plague us. Rather than being blessed by the presence of the daimōn, we are now to guard ourselves from their influence.

Is it possible that the Byronic hue, the darkly suspect character, that mark of Cain that “genius” still carries, might be an inheritance from the Christianity of the Middle Ages? 😉


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