The Incuriosity Complex

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018-04-20 17:00:00-04:00 No comments

I think a great deal about the bad habits that creators fall into without knowing it, or that they bring into the act of creation with them from their world of being a consumer of things. The one I keep coming back to most is incuriosity.

One of the big myths I believed about fandom — any fandom, really — was that the people in it were by default that much more curious about life, that much more interested. The act of being enthusiastic about something in their particular way had awakened them to how large the world really was and how much could be drawn from every corner of it.

It took some time dealing with actual fans to find that this was no more true in fandom than it was in most any other walk of life. Some fans are like that, god love 'em. But others are no more interested in what's outside their fandom, whether it involves another fandom or the real world, than a dog roving his backyard in Hackensack, New Jersey is interested in what's going on in Port Kaituma, Guyana.

I get upset with incuriosity most when I see it in the very people who are supposed to be exhibiting the least of it. Not fans, but creators. Sometimes I get the impression it's because the people in question feel they haven't got the druthers to wrap their heads around real-world subjects that could inform their works, like politics or economics. I used to find those things painfully boring myself, until I found good ways into them by way of other subjects and by way of people who were good explainers.

At the top of this piece I called incuriosity a bad habit. It's like any other habit; it can be worn down or weaned from entirely. But to be motivated to do so requires some sense of what the benefits are of breaking the habit. Maybe the people stuck in ruts of incuriosity don't realize how they'll benefit because they can't see for themselves, in that moment, what those benefits would mean to their own work — because they would have a hard time recognizing them if they saw them in someone else's work, too! Just saying "this'll make your work richer and more credible" doesn't always do the trick, I fear. It's like when Mom told you to eat your vegetables. What proof could she offer it would do anything?

I think my larger point is that when people go from being just consumers of something to trying to become producers of something, they bring with them, unconsciously, many habits of mind and spirit that aren't always visible to them, and whose detriments aren't always clear. Incuriosity about anything not immediately in front of their nose is just one of them.

Tags: creativity creators psychology