Space to Think

So thinking can develop

On Creativity

A happy coincidence coming across the two references below; one by accident in browsing some blogs, the other in my reading of a favoured author.

In help people be creative John Cleese advocates a “tortoise enclosure where your tortoise mind can come out to play”: boundaries of space and boundaries of time; an oasis in which to ‘play’.  Creativity comes from our unconscious so we need to ensure we are not interupted.

I was also struck by David Bohm (On Creativity, 1996: 48) writing about the relationship between art and science. He reflects on the significance of new ideas disrupting preconceptions about the world.

… in the long run it is less important to learn of a particular new way of conceiving structure abstractly, than it is to understand how the consideration of such new ideas can liberate one’s tought from a vast network of preconceptions absorbed largley unconsciously with education and training and from the general background. It seems to me that with regard to this question of preconceptions the situation should be baskically similar in every field of creative work, whether this be scientific, artistic, or of any other nature. For by becoming aware of preconceptions that have been conditioning us unconsciously we are able to perceive and understand the world in a fresh way. One can then “feel out” and explore what is unknown, rather than go on, as has generally been one’s habit, with mere variations on old themes, leading to modifications, extensions, or other developments with the framework of what has already been known, either in one’s own field, or in a closely related form in some other field. Thus one’s work can begin to be really creative, not only in the sense that it will contain genuinely original features, but also in that these will cohere with what is being continued from the past to form one harmonious, living, evolving totality.

All this serves to remind me of the importance of structuring time and space in ways that avoid, at least temporarily, the tyranny of the routine and the well worn track; to develop and maintain strategies to systematically pause, abandon the drive to perform or deliver, and permit heterodox thoughts, images, or feelings. And to find ways to stimulate and fuel heterodoxy through deliberate admission of the products of the worlds of others’; thinking from other discourses and constructions built on alternative sets of assumptions.

Daily I experience and observe the lack of such disciplines.

September 13, 2010 Posted by | Bohm, creativity, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Slow Thinking for Creativity

I discovered an article by the well known John Cleese, originally prublished in edutopia magazine in December 2005: Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind | Edutopia. Cleese writes:

Then I came across research done at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1970s by Donald W. MacKinnon. He had examined what made people creative, and he found that the professionals rated “most creative” by their colleagues displayed two characteristics: They had a greater facility for play, meaning they would contemplate and play with a problem out of real curiosity, not because they had to, and they were prepared to ponder the problem for much longer before resolving it. The more creative professionals had a “childish capacity” for play — childish in the sense of the total, timeless absorption that children achieve when they’re intrigued.

The title of the article is taken from a book it goes on to refer to: Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: How Intelligence Increases When You Think Less, by Guy Claxton, an academic psychologist.

Claxton uses the phrase “hare brain” to refer to the sort of deliberate, conscious thinking we do when we apply reason and logic to known data. “Tortoise mind,” on the other hand, is more playful, leisurely, even dreamy. In this mode we are contemplative or meditative. We ponder a problem, rather than earnestly trying to solve it, by just bearing it in mind as we watch the world go by.

It seems persuasive, but counter cultural; which means that we probably need to cultivate and practice some deliberate habits to enjoy the fruits of creativity possible.

Thanks to Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk Blog for pointing me to the Cleese article.  It has set me thinking, slowly.

March 2, 2008 Posted by | creativity, imagination, slow-thinking | , | Leave a comment