i’ve been following conversations lately around the idea of combinatorial creativity. jonah lehrer is someone whose ideas i find interesting. he recently just published a book on how creativity works. i haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list of to reads. right after proust was a neuroscientist and krug’s don’t make me think.
i’m pretty fascinated by the idea of creativity. but really, i’m fascinated by people’s fascination and really awe of the word. it’s quite a meta fascination. i find it kind of humorous, it’s as though folks treat it as talent set apart – that, that belongs to the gifted other. and by other, most folks mean “other than themselves.” and it’s really quite silly. srsly.
creativity isn’t something peculiar or sacred, it isn’t reserved for artists or poets or innovators. it’s simply a way of understanding information, accumulated over time, and internally cross-referenced in novel ways. there’s a funny obsession with the idea of novelty and an almost parallel, equally dynamically powerful backlash sentiment, that nothing is new and everything is old. who cares? discussions advance ideas, arguments like these, i find limit meaningful conversation.
as someone who dabbles in the arts, i often get labeled as an artist by friends and colleagues and receive comments along the lines of “oh you’re so artsy” etc. not to ruin my “artist mystique” – if i ever had one, but i actually don’t paint to say something novel or new so much as to play. there’s something i find very limiting in being an “adult” and very freeing in art. to be in a studio with concrete floors, molten glass, or flying paint, there’s just a lovely sense of freedom. my paintings are frequently nothing more than me making a mess and are often full-bodied messes. and there is nothing more intimate and more personal than for me or anyone, to immerse themselves completely and literally in self-expression. being an adult is overrated.
in fact, this is a wisdom i knew as child. i used to be in the habit of keeping a diary and wise seven year old debby kept notes on “what not to do to when i’m a grown up…”. to this day, whenever i work with children, i still keep these personal maxims in mind.
for some odd reason, when i was very young i also decided that 26 would be the official marker of being a “grown up”. good news — this was a faulty belief. 26 came and went away and there’s no sign of maturation yet. in any case, this was a cheesy post. so i’ll cut it short now. but creativity is really just the byproduct of curiosity + action and often is found in play — something we should remember to do even after we’re “all grown up”.
notes from the Creativity Project