This article argues in favor of misreading as a creative act. There is something involuntary in every creative act, and this involuntariness is itself a force of creation that arrives at the threshold of every act of repetition in and through time. Creativity is always shaped by unexpected encounters with ideas, arguments, and artworks. My defense of misreading as a creative act, however, asks for a broader description of contingency that includes accidents, misprisions, and fortuitous faults in memory generating flights of fancy and unbidden and unexpected imaginative analogies. These erosions of intention by internal or external events are one way of anticipating the freedom for new creation. Before it is expressed in actions, creativity arises in imagination, and to those open to it, imagination is fed by both the inner contingencies arising in memory and imagination and the outer contingencies of surprise encounters with ideas, texts, and other creative works.
In Praise of Misreading (On Contingency and Creativity)
D. N. Rodowick is Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago. He is the author of numerous essays as well as nine books, including, most recently, An Education in Judgment: Hannah Arendt and the Humanities (2021).
D. N. Rodowick; In Praise of Misreading (On Contingency and Creativity). the minnesota review 1 May 2023; 2023 (100): 65–79. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00265667-10320919
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