CREATIVITY -- At the Library of Congress through February 28.
The Library of Congress has undertaken to say something creative about creativity in an exhibit in the Great Hall of the Jefferson (main) building. The result is a muddle, but being largely made up of rare works, it is an interesting muddle.
The exhibit is unorganized (the buzz word is "diverse") and makes little sense. Right up front we find Franklin, and God knows Ben was a creative fellow, but ranked round his skirts are Edison (well, okay), Ford (Ford?) and Carnegie (Carnegie!).
The rationale for including fatheaded Ford and the steely old robber baron would be clear if it said anywhere that the sponsors of the exhibit, and the symposium that launched it, are a couple of oil companies and the Carnegie Foundation.
The exhibit is simply the detritus of one of those endless exercises in pseudo-intellectual backpatting that keep modern grants-persons well-heeled, well-traveled, well-fed and well-pleased with themselves.
The public would have gotten much more worthwhile leftovers if the Library had used the graceful and modest essay on creativity produced by staffer Leonard C. Bruno as the organizing principle and principal test of the exhibit.
Given an essentially impossible task, Bruno considers several aspects of the creative force and briefly discusses some of the world-shakers who have had it. To his credit he makes no mention of Carnegie, the sweat and tears of whose victims, transmogrified into money, now droppeth as the gentle rain from Heaven upon the philistines. The essay is a good read and makes a handsome pamphlet (which was handed out at the symposium and to the press but is not available at the exhibit).
The exhibit, in contrast, is a hodgepodge in which, for instance, 19th-century French chef Marie Antonin Careme and Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a contemporary bon vivant, share a case with Ludwig von Beethoven. Hoo boy, now, that's creative.
But to hell with them folks, folks. There's a page from one of Leonardo's notebooks, a holograph manuscript by Einstein, the original of Beethoven's Opus 109. . .