Daily Paradox - Written by John Bittleston on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 19:25 - 1 Comment
If creativity is the ability to perceive relationships what is the process by which we do that? It sounds passive, as though perceiving was merely keeping our eyes open and having an ah-ha moment. It does not require association of genius ability to say that a cat standing by her feeding bowl looking around is hungry. Or are there other, more subtle, reasons for her behaviour?
We are creative all the time, mostly without recognizing it. Our memories are associative, relating something we want to remember to something we readily call to mind. You can recite your shopping list if your memory hooks are in place and you relate an item you want to purchase to one of them. With practice it becomes second nature. It is a simple act of creativity.
A French schoolmaster told me I would use the language not because of good vocabulary but because I could get around an unknown word by substituting it with a known phrase. In the same way seeing something can evoke a memory or a thought of pleasure or pain. Elgar’s Enigma Variations set me mentally walking over the Malvern Hills in England where I spent part of my childhood. Some WWII songs reduce me to tears with their memories of loss and sadness. It is a small step from these associations to relationships that produce new thoughts and ideas.
I therefore find it disturbing that nearly one hundred students at a top university could not say what the Costa Concordia accident implied for Singapore, the second busiest harbour in the world. Why? “Italy is a long way away”.
One of my children at the age of four observed an aircraft leaving a vapour trail. He said “Look, Dad, another of those airplanes scratching the sky”. He grew up to be highly creative because he avoided doing what George Meredith warned us of “When we let romance go we change the sky for the ceiling”.
William James, Harvard Psychologist, said “The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” It is from this point of view that we approach creativity. The rapid changes we have all had to deal with have left many without a rational or secure base. Some have fled to religion, some from it. But flight in any direction denies thinking for ourselves, solving our own problems.
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi counseled “Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen, but thinking what nobody has thought.” We discover only when we create and we believe what we discover ourselves more than what others discover for us.
Let’s move forward tomorrow to Creativity Regained.
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by John Bittleston
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