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Primal urge

illustrationWhile I only recently discovered Hugh McLeod’s fantastically popular ChangeThis Manifesto: How to Be Creative from 2004, the gapingvoid cartoonist captures so many practically useful ideas about living a creative life, I can’t help but recommend it. It’s an eminently readable free PDF with plenty of Hugh’s unique back-of-the-business-card illustrations.

One of my favorite passages comes in the midst of Hugh’s reflection how some have passion to change the world. He traces the roots of that kind of passion to what he calls the “Pissed Off Gene”:

Human beings have this thing I call the “Pissed Off Gene.” It’s that bit of our psyche hat makes us utterly dissatisfied with our lot, no matter how kindly fortune smiles upon us.

It’s there for a reason. Back in our early caveman days being pissed off made us more likely to get off our butt, get out of the cave and into the tundra hunting woolly mammoth, so we’d have something to eat for supper. It’s a survival mechanism. Damn useful then, damn useful now.

. . .


Part of understanding creative urge is understanding that it’s primal. Wanting to change the world is not a noble calling; it’s a primal urge.

We think we’re “providing a superior integrated logistic system” or “helping America to really taste freshness.” In fact, we’re just pissed off and want to get the hell out of the cave and kill the woolly mammoth.

(Emphsis mine.) Go read it. Really. It’s fun too.

January 18, 2008