The latest vogue in success literature showcases an ugly elitism

Cover00Thomas Frank at Bookforum:

It’s 2016, and another management guru is revealing the secrets of the creative mind.

It’s not really a very original thing to do. The literature on encouraging corporate nonconformity is already enormous; it goes back many years, to at least 1960, when someone wrote a book called How to Be a More Creative Executive. What was once called “the creative revolution” in advertising got going at around the same time. I myself wrote a book about that subject—a history book!—nearly twenty years ago.

There have been slight variations in the creativity genre over the half-century of its ascendancy, of course. The cast of geniuses on whom it obsessively focuses has changed, for example. And while the study of creativity has always been surrounded with a quasi-scientific aura, today that science is more micro than macro, urging us to enhance our originality by studying the functioning of the human brain.

In the larger literary sense, however, it is now clear that the capitalist’s tribute to creativity and rebellion is an indestructible form. There is something about the merging of bossery and nonconformity that beguiles the American mind. The genre marches irresistibly from triumph to triumph. Books pondering the way creative minds work dominate business-best-seller lists. Airport newsstands seem to have been converted wholly to the propagation of the faith. Travel writers and speechwriters alike have seen the light and now busy themselves revealing the brain’s secrets to aspiring professionals.

more here.