Is Reading a Creative Process?


When you sit down and read a book — a novel specifically — are you being creative? This is a question worth debating. On one hand, you aren’t really creating anything. There is nothing visible to show for it when you close the book and put it aside. On the other hand, the ideas you are getting from the book, the visuals you are weaving and constructing in your mind, are all intangible materials that you can be applied to your creations.

With that being said, is watching a television show being creative? Is listening to an album being creative? Is watching a hockey game being creative? Where does one draw the line between entertainment and creative research?

For me, the creative process is an intent-driven process. You are present with all that is happening. You aren’t simply walking through an art gallery, but you are stopping to admire each painting and sculpture along the way. You are processing it.

If a novel, a television show, or an album is being consumed with the same frame of mind as one simply moving through it as quickly as possible, as a means to an end, then it is not a creative act. However, if one pauses occasionally and consider why the writer, cinematographer, or artist chose to use this word, this lighting, or that note, then what is being done is perhaps the most important aspect of being a creator.

Yes, I consider reading a creative process, but not everyone does. Some will simply read for pleasure. A filmmaker will watch a movie and consider it a part of the creative process while a mere civilian will watch a movie as a means to escape.

There is this hallway and you get to walk through it at your own speed. That is how I see a piece of work. What you get out of that experience is up to you.


If you enjoyed this article, please consider signing up for my mailing list. You won’t receive emails from me often, but when you do, it’ll include only work that I’m most proud of.

National egotism and propaganda

Photo by Keith Bernstein - © 2014 - Warner Bros. Entertainment

‘American Sniper’is an encapsulating project rooted in pride

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. January 27, 2015

When Seth Rogen and Michael Moore voiced their opinion on American Sniper—the number one movie in January with over $100-million in box office over the long weekend—it was targeted at the machine that was America.

Rogen, accustomed to controversies, compared the highly acclaimed film to the third act of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. One may remember the scene in which Hitler and his posse sat in a theatre, watching a movie with a sniper on higher ground taking out Allied soldiers. He said it without saying it; Rogen was pretty much comparing Clint Eastwood to Leni Riefenstahl and the American public to animals akin to Nazis.

Moore, the director of Oscar-winning documentary Bowling for Columbine, added in a tweet: “Only a coward will shoot someone who can’t shoot back.” A Japanese sniper killed Moore’s uncle almost 70 years ago.

The story of US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, portrayed by Bradley Cooper, was a haunting one. Were we watching a film about a national hero or an international murderer? Either way, I believe it’s an honest war movie.

Of course, movies with a patriotic undertone have been a popular genre in cinematic catalogues since the existence of filmmaking. The original purpose of motion pictures was not just to entertain but also to persuade. How is American Sniper any different from the rallying war and disaster movies that made regular civilians feel empowered?

The criticisms aren’t directed at the performance or the movie itself, but the encompassing scenarios. Why is America hell-bent on murder, enough so to transform a normal man into such a weapon? What does it say about the current system of politics and recovery? How are we helping those transitioning from normal life to a life of war and then back again?

Although I agree with Rogen that the movie comes across as enemy-murder porn, and I understand where Moore is coming from, saying that heroes don’t gun down people from a hiding spot, I don’t believe that the movie is anything more than a reflection on the way we ourselves react to war.

Honestly, I enjoy movies that focus not just on the event, but also on the repercussions. I want to see the brutality of it. I want to see the broken relationships and the torturous anguish. I don’t want to see it glamourized like in many action movies. I want to watch a war movie and feel fortunate that there are those participating in such duties. And then I want to feel disappointed that I live in a world where we require people to participate, to enrol, to risk their lives, and to end the lives of others.

American Sniper, like many other Hollywood-produced war movies, has a clear identification of the enemy, but know this: not everything in movies is real. In fact, none of it is—they’re movies.

America’s most-watched

Opinions_filming policeWhy police officers on duty should be filmed

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. Sept. 4, 2014

Security cameras are an integral part of many organizations, from low-level retail to big brand manufacturing. Whatever is recorded is rarely shown to the public or even kept for long periods of time, but when something occurs it’s always good to have video evidence, especially in this day and age when it’s essential to justice.

So if the barista at Starbucks has to be on camera all day long while serving coffee, why shouldn’t police officers be on camera all day long while serving and protecting citizens? Law enforcement is a tough job—I don’t deny that; however, I’m convinced that often the coercive measures taken to enforce the law might be overly drastic.

Recently, several police brutality videos have been shared on the Internet to ensure that the citizens being detained receive at the very least an apology for the forceful way in which they were apprehended. It’s sickening to see a police officer throw furious jabs at a man who has his arms behind his back, or worse, see a 200lb man wrestle down a woman and continue to pummel her while she’s on the ground. Whether the victim deserved the physical punishment or the police officer overstepped bounds is beyond me, but what I am sure you can agree on is that transparency is the key to establishing harmony between the law and the people the laws are meant to protect.

In the States—California specifically—there are initiatives for police to wear cameras when they are on duty. Instead of having spectators film police when a wrongdoing occurs, the police should just include that in their operations. If they have done nothing wrong in the course of action, then there is nothing to worry about.

The argument is that if certain people see a police with a camera attached to them, then a certain level of fear is omitted, but I don’t believe that to be the case. After all, I sure as hell don’t want video evidence of me showing disrespect to a police officer. Nevertheless, I would want even less to have a video of me being assaulted by a police officer. Moreover, why the hell should citizens, who have done nothing wrong, fear cops anyways?

Well, that’s because 90 per cent of people are law-abiding, but 99.9 per cent of people are unnerved by the unpredictability of law enforcement officers. Simply put, people just aren’t educated in what the police can or cannot do to us. The RCMP, and other departments in charge of our safety, need to meet us halfway. Certain public places are constantly under surveillance. It seems to me that wherever a police officer happens to be, that is a good place for an extra eye.

Cops are people too, and they perform a tough role in our society. Wearing a camera on the job is not an expression of mistrust. Instead, it should be seen as how guns, Tasers, and other technological advantages are used to help them perform their job. It’s an affordable measure that can save a lot of people from injuries and stop officers from stepping over the thin blue line.