Friday, 26 February 2010

A Most Ingenious Paradox - Joan Lennon

(I like this photo - it always makes me smile.) I watched a Horizon programme recently called "What Makes a Genius?" presented by Marcus du Sautoy, mathematics professor and pleasant guy. For me, the best bit was right before the end, when another nice man (Dr Mark Lythgoe from University College London) talked about "the paradox of creativity" - which (I'm pretty sure) is this: Everybody has walls that they use to filter out irrelevent information. This allows us to focus. Creativitity requires us to be able to lower these walls - to be open to all sorts of things, creating new associations in our minds AND still be focussed.

"You've got to be able to hold these two states of mind at the same time - you've got to be open and also incredibly focussed." (I took notes off the iplayer version so if this isn't an absolutely exact quote please don't sue me.)

Isn't that neat? Doesn't that sound just the way it feels?
That ping, ping of random things banging around the inside of your head, the oh that's amazing! of a problem solved by something out of left field AND AT THE SAME TIME the absolute stillness and, for lack of a better word, muscle of concentrating ... Yes, well, something like that.

Does this ring bells with other people? Or does your creative paradox sing to a different tune altogether? It would be interesting to hear!

Cheers, Joan.

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Nicky said...

It does. When things are going well and I look back at my working day it feels as I have been dreaming and at the same time as if I have just completed a very difficult exam.

Andrew Strong said...

I agree completely - it's a paradox. I've always felt that being creative is about suspending judgement whilst making a judgement; letting as many ideas swim around, and choosing just one. I have the same experience when reading - I'll come across a phrase like "she switched on the light" - and I start seeing multiple light switches, clean ones, grubby ones, plastic ones, stainless steel. Useful as a writer; messy as a reader.

Lynda Waterhouse said...

There are days when one part of my brain is busy 'living' as another character or characters whilst I carry on with my existence. A long walk helps me to focus

catdownunder said...

"When you are alone the whole world belongs to you."
(Leonardo da Vinci)