A scientific perspective on getting through creatively from A to B to C
It is so good to hear a scientist like Uri Alon talking about the difficulties of getting from A to B to C when you are researching – finding out about stuff. It’s not a straight forward thing. It’s not linear. It’s not only about being analytical and having all your information in place.
There are points where you get stuck and depressed and don’t know how to get out of the deep deep hole you seem to have dug for yourself. You’ve plummeted down down down the rabbit hole. It’s all gone pear shaped and you can’t find the key to get out of that place you’re so stuck in. (Is that enough metaphors do you think?)
Anyway, Uri Alon, physicist, researcher, academic and improv theatre devotee has some answers about process. He calls the fuzzy, messy space that’s the stuck point, the ‘cloud’. Somehow it’s a bit different to Steve Job’s cloud, but it’s a cloud. More like your everyday, up in the sky on a grey day, misty cloud. It’s a bit foggy and vision is poor. But if you can stick with the uncertainty and get through that cloud – there’s an ‘aha’ moment waiting for you at the end.
Now this is a good reason to encourage creative teaching and scholarship: to reduce the prevalence of academic boredom in seminars. We are all guilty of it and/or well acquainted with it. Seminars that go on and on forever, and ever and ever . . .
But Amir Baghdadchi has studied this phenomenon in great detail. He argues that by making heaps and heaps of rigorous arguments in your presentation and boring the pants off everyone, you reduce the risk of anyone in the audience ever asking awkward, challenging questions for which you have no answer. Great paper. A must read. (See my page for a sample, or go to the publisher for the paper – you’ll need library access to get it for free.)
To be creative requires time alone and time connecting with others. This collaborative improv in the streets and subways of New York would have only required a small amount of individual time to prepare for a fun time as a collective. Putting a smile on the face of strangers – that has to be a positive outcome, making the world a better place to be.
Creativity is part of change and change itself. But where does inspiration for creativity come from?
In this promo for the ‘e.g. conference’, artists and other creative people were asked this question.
In response they talk about expressing themselves, making connections and finding inspiration in e.g.:
– ‘showing people what they can’t see for themselves’
– ‘other people’s stories’
– ‘helping visually impaired children’
– ‘solving problems that have been unnoticed or unsolved for a long time’.
‘Creativity is the way we make change.’ ‘Creativity is important for the survival of our species.’ ‘Creativity doesn’t happen in a mental desert.’
Learning is a creative act, and learning with and through others is creative. As you learn you change the way you see the world and change the way you interact with the world.
More inspiration? What do you see . . .
Have a look at this other ‘e.g.’ video: ‘What do you see?’. More inspiring individuals talk about the power of seeing. I think the passion of others is delightful, inspiring and catching. As Albert Einstein is supposed to have said: ‘Creativity is catching. Pass it on.’