On Imagination – Another’s Thoughts

“To see, to hear, means nothing. To recognize (or not to recognize) means everything.” – André Breton

This week’s creativity blog shares another’s perspective. I’m on her email list and this particular email dissertation I found quite interesting. She goes by the name “The Used Life” and is an artist extraordinaire.

Here are some of her thoughts . . . what are some of yours?

I think of my art as an articulation of my inner life. That all of the scenes that take shape in my collage art (and poetry, too) also exist within me. There is a mystery in that which I love: that is, the mystery of human imagination. Indeed, it is a rare occasion when I am able to explain clearly and succinctly what I believe my artwork means. I like not knowing. No, I love not knowing. It is the mystery that makes it meaningful.

It is also, I think, the element of mystery that creates something akin to a mystical or religious experience—the feeling that, when I am creating, I am acting as a conduit, or channel, for “something else”, something almost otherworldly or unreal.

But, what’s the “something else”? What do I think is really happening in those moments, and what is the role of imagination in that process?

First, let me clarify by saying that I don’t define “imagination” as the ability to conjure images at will. That, I think, is a very small part of what comprises our imaginations. Here are some thoughts.

Imagination is a loss of separateness.

It is the recognition of ourselves in another—in another person, in an animal or landscape, in a character from a novel, a scrap of discarded paper, or a cardboard box. I would suggest that this “moment of recognition” is where the feelings of awe, of ecstasy, or even love that often accompany or precede creativity come from.

“Imagination is the outreaching of mind…the bombardment of the conscious mind with ideas, impulses, images and every sort of psychic phenomena welling up from the pre-conscious.” – Rollo May

What psychoanalysts might call a kind of projection, or a “leaky” subconscious. Imagination is the outpouring of inner images onto the outer world, such that a third image—a new image—may be born.

Imagination is a way of perceiving.

Maslow talks a great deal about what it means to see “unitively”, suggesting that many self-actualizing people encounter the world in a manner that allows them to see the sacred in the everyday. In the essay, “Theory Z”, he suggests self-actualizers may be divided broadly into two groups: those who experience episodes of self-transcendence (i.e., artists, poets, musicians, other creators), and those who are more pragmatic thinkers (i.e., businesspeople, entrepreneurs, politicians, scientists).

The difference between them: pragmatic thinkers deal with the here-and-now, operate within the confines of concrete reality. Transcenders are able to perceive the stuff of everyday life within the context of eternity and, as a result, are able to perceive (or feel they are perceiving) the “sacred” or “miraculous”.

What I think: the latter see imaginatively. What Maslow refers to as the perception of eternity is a function of imagination. It is the natural “outreaching of mind”, the involvement of the subconscious, or preconscious, primordial images and the emotions they carry. That’s where those feelings of “eternity,” “otherworldliness,” “surreality,” or even of encountering “the sacred” in the everyday (or in a work of art) come from.

What’s more: children see imaginatively. We were all, at one time, able to see imaginatively without trying…which leads me to my last point.

Our imaginations transform the everyday into the extraordinary.

Without the imaginative encounter—that is, without the fusion of inner and outer worlds—I doubt we would ever be able to perceive the extraordinary. I think we need those subconscious projections, those “leaky” images, impulses, and ideas. They tell us who we are. They help us make meaning. That outpouring of the unreal is what gives reality its shine.

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

Originality: Not required for creativity

Whether or not you agree with the premise, I found the following essay from Psychology Today an interesting take on a myth that still finds itself debatable in certain circles. Where do creative ideas come from? Are they truly original? Well, according to the essay . . .

One of the most persistent myths is that a creative idea is a totally original idea. That is, to be creative one must be able to create ideas that have never been thought before, ideas that never existed before, absolutely original. {Personally, I don’t buy this.}

{One could consider saying that all original ideas are creative but not all creative ideas are original. I would not necessarily agree with the first part of that statement but I would agree with the second part.}

The truth is that most innovative ideas are not original ideas. In most cases, they are simply the combination of previous ideas into a new concept or format. It’s about making connections with stuff that’s already there. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, brought this all into perspective when he said:

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they really didn’t do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after awhile. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or that they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

 

One of the most-oft cited cases of creativity centers around Johannes Gutenberg who, in 1450, combined the wine press and the coin punch to create movable type and the printing press. Movable metal pieces allowed pages to be printed much more quickly than the standard wooden blocks used to press ink onto paper.

His “combination of pre-existing technologies” created printing presses that could print thousands of pages a day. This revolution allowed books to be printed more quickly and more efficiently, allowing the middle class to obtain them as never before. The result was the rapid spread of knowledge across the European continent. That intellectual revolution came about due, in large measure, to the combination of two previous (and seemingly unconnected) ideas: a wine press and a coin punch.

Creative Combinations

Ancient Greeks were also aware of the power of creative combinations. For example, it was the Greeks who combined soft copper with soft tin to create hard bronze. At their most basic levels, Gutenberg’s printing press and the creation of bronze were simply a combination of already existing ideas. History also records these interesting combinations of pre-existing concepts:

1. Copier + telephone = fax machine

2. Bell + clock = alarm clock

3. Trolley + suitcase = suitcase with wheels.

4. Igloo + hotel = ice palace

5. Mathematics + biology = laws of heredity

We like to believe that creativity is the result of a determined, focused, and solo entrepreneur who, through a flash of inspiration solves a problem for the betterment of humankind. It’s a great plot line for a TV special, but it ignores a basic fact of life about the stories of most innovations: They rarely include the human networks that sustain (and make possible) radical new ideas or changes. In fact, history is frequently edited in order to recognize a sole genius or innovator. Phil McKinney, host of the nationally syndicated radio show, Killer Innovations, puts it this way:

We have a saying in the innovation industry: “There’s no such thing as a truly new idea. Ideas are the result of building on the work of others.” Many of the creative ideas that led to creating great companies were the result of a team. Some examples: Microsoft, Intel, Google, Skype and many more.

We continue to think that to be creative is to have the ability to create new ideas rather than to combine old ideas into new configurations. It’s a persistent myth that frequently blocks us whenever we’re faced with a personal challenge or work-related endeavor. To the contrary, however, creativity is not always a series of “brilliant new ideas,” but often is the result of a lifetime of experiences and diligence in working on combinations of those ideas (instead of giving up on them after one or two failures). The myth that every idea must be an idea never considered before (in the history of humankind) is a significant impediment to our ability to think creatively.

Key Takeaways

  • We often make the mistake of assuming that creative ideas are always original ideas.
  • Creativity is, quite often, a combination of two “old” ideas.
  • One’s creativity can be enhanced by linking two or more disparate concepts.

Regardless of one’s viewpoint, never be afraid to brainstorm with your own imagination and consider borrowing from other ideas. Those ideas can always be improved upon and/or give birth to a totally new and different idea. That’s being creative.

 

Thanks to Dr. Fredericks for the essay and for the various examples of original thought on which this post is based. Anthony D. Fredericks, Ed.D., is Professor Emeritus of Education at York College of Pennsylvania and the author of From Fizzle to Sizzle: The Hidden Forces Crushing Your Creativity and How You Can Overcome Them.

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

Quotes – Special Edition

Forty-seven years ago this week, June 28, 1975, creativity lost an icon. A mentor to many both near and afar and an inspiration to those of us putting “pen to paper.” Rod Serling, creator and host of the TV series, The Twilight Zone, was a master at utilizing one’s imagination and turning it on its ear. And we loved him for it!

These quotes pay tribute not only to Rod but to various creative artists and thought leaders who have also played a role in tweaking our imagination and how we think.

I just want [people] to remember me a hundred years from now. I don’t care that they’re not able to quote any single line that I’ve written. But just that they can say, ‘Oh, he was a writer.’ That’s sufficiently an honored position for me.Rod Serling

An important idea not communicated persuasively is like having no idea at all. — William Bernbach, Advertising Hall of Fame

Human beings must involve themselves in the anguish of other human beings. This, I submit to you, is not a political thesis at all. It is simply an expression of what I would hope might be ultimately a simple humanity for humanity’s sake. ― Rod Serling

Like the musical score, a mission statement is only as good as the performance it inspires. — Keith Reinhard, Advertising Hall of Fame

Let’s gear our advertising to sell goods, but let’s recognize also that advertising has a broad social responsibility. — Leo Burnett, Advertising Hall of Fame

Treasure diversity. Seek unity, not uniformity. Strive for oneness, not sameness. — Dan Zadra, American businessman and author

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. – H. G. Wells

Good advertising is written from one person to another. When it is aimed at millions, it rarely moves anyone. — Fairfax M. Cone, Advertising Hall of Fame

In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd. – Miguel de Cervantes

I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity. – Eleanor Roosevelt
 
Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor. – Truman Capote

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

Live long and prosper, Ukraine.

Beyond The Majestic: The Evil Doer

A sequel to the short story Stopover at the Majestic

PROLOGUE

When last we visited, the year was 1965 and our two strangers were chatting up one another in the lobby of the Majestic Hotel, just before it was to be torn down. One of the strangers is Timeline Police. The cop knows our Time Traveler is not from 1965 but the closely guarded Timeline has been disrupted; how is not known. The police are investigating. Could our time-traveling Stranger end up being trapped in 1965 at the Majestic? After their conversation, our Time Traveler, Mr. Curtis, decides it is time to move on. So with a doff of this hat and a swirl of his cane, he does and in a flash, he’s gone. Again. Only to encounter unexpected twists along his journey through time.

 

 

The year is 3068 and Mr. Curtis is now visiting another world in the Gamma Quadrant of the Solexa Solar System. The planet, similar to Earth, is not all that old. However, the surface is desolate except for one large city. Mr. Curtis, it seems, has been drawn here to see the city’s largest building. He is, among other things, a curiosity seeker.

The building is a relatively old hotel, rather grandeur in stature. Upon first glance, he thought he recognized it but he’s never been here before. Then it hits him: It’s a replica, an exact replica but a working replica nonetheless of the long-ago demolished Majestic Hotel in Lake Charles, LA, back on Earth in 1965.

How could that be? Who built it and why the Majestic?

As he stands there in front of the lobby admiring its architecture, he feels a tap on his shoulder and a voice, “Hey there. Fancy meeting you here.”

Startled, Mr. Curtis swings around to see who is disturbing him.

It’s the Timeline Police cop from Earth!

“I could say the same thing about you,” retorts Mr. Curtis. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m investigating the breakdown of the Timeline back in 1965, when you and I first and last met,” says the cop. “You seemed to have left the Majestic awfully quickly. And now I see you here in front of another Majestic Hotel more than 200 years in the future. Curious! What gives?”

“Well, it is curious. I felt a strange yearning to come to this planet and when I arrived, I was drawn to this spot, where the hotel is. Believe it or not, I did not expect to see another Majestic Hotel,” explained Mr. Curtis.

“You said you were investigating the breakdown of the Timeline back in 1965,” inquired Mr. Curtis. “Have you any answers?” he asked. “I know I did nothing to impact the Timeline. That’s not to say I wasn’t tempted, mind you.”

“Well,” intoned the cop, “something happened to the Timeline because the Majestic Hotel back then was not torn down in 1965. Oh, sure, a parking lot is in its place or was but that was later.”

Mr. Curtis interrupted, “But, all the history books say the hotel was torn down in 1965 and show photos of its demolition. How could that be if it was not torn down then?”

“Trust me,” said the cop. It wasn’t. And the only way for that to have happened was for someone to adjust the Timeline. I don’t know who and I don’t know how but it was done. The evidence is where we are standing. This is not merely a replica of the Majestic, Mr. Curtis. It is the Majestic. Somehow when the Timeline was altered, the hotel was transported to 3068, right where we are standing.”

“Okay,” sighed Mr. Curtis, “now I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone. Before we know it, Rod Serling is going to come out from behind the Concierge Desk!”

“So where does this leave you in you investigation, Mr. Timeline Policeman?,” asked Mr. Curtis. “Since this happened back in 1965, wouldn’t it make sense to return to that time and ask around?” he said.

“I’ve considered exactly that, but I may need some help to draw out our Timeline provocateur,” said the cop.

“What did you have in mind?,” inquired Mr. Curtis.

“Come join me for a cocktail at the Majestic Bar and I’ll fill you in with my plan,” invited the cop.

Continue reading

Images of Creativity

Images, works of art. Striking. Unsettling. Amazing. Jaw dropping. Awesome.

Creativity in its different forms.

Below are a few examples of spaces that accommodate large scale installations.

 

Going big in small spaces. Irrespective of the environments we design, there are always opportunities to create unexpected scale through architectural intervention. It’s a strong and powerful way for brands to transport an audience to another world.

 

Credits:

Artist Matthew Mazzotta has designed HOME at Tampa airport

AC Milan HQ by Fabio Novembre

Sophie’, 2009 in Germain Restaurant, Paris by Xavier Veilhan

‘Karma’ is by the Korean sculptor and installation artist DO HO SUH STUDIOS LLP  

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

Live long and prosper, Ukraine.

When Your Muse Strikes, Follow It.

I don’t know how Seth Godin does it. He writes and publishes a blog everyday, 365 days a year. I have trouble publishing my two blogs each WEEK!

Part of my problem is having something interesting to publish. That is every blogger’s nightmare. There have been times I write a blog the night before because I came up with an idea and just developed it.

When I’m in a pinch and nothing comes to mind, I try and change my focus. In a way, I let myself become distracted, not by merely doing something else but by switching creative gears and concentrating on another creative project.

It was where my muse wanted to take me, so I let it. What is a muse you might ask?

Muse, in Greco-Roman religion and mythology, any of a group of sister goddesses of obscure but ancient origin, the chief centre of whose cult was Mount Helicon in Boeotia, Greece. They were born in Pieria, at the foot of Mount Olympus.

They probably were originally the patron goddesses of poets (who in early times were also musicians, providing their own accompaniments), although later their range was extended to include all liberal arts and sciences—hence, their connection with such institutions as the Museum (Mouseion, seat of the Muses) at Alexandria, Egypt. There were nine Muses as early as Homer’s Odyssey, and Homer invokes either a Muse or the Muses collectively from time to time.

Virgil (centre) holding a scroll with a quotation from the Aeneid, with the epic Muse (left) and the tragic Muse (right), Roman mosaic, 2nd–3rd century ad. Courtesy of the Musée Le Bardo, Tunis

As the creative juices begin to flow and my “new” project begins to take shape, I begin to develop several ideas that would make for interesting blog posts. I did, however, make sure I finished what I had previously started so I could “celebrate” the accomplishment (a musical slide show).

Whether or not you follow your instincts when you have a calling to do so, is up to you. Your mind and imagination are wondrous tools in the creative process. Don’t ignore them.

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

Live Long and Prosper, Ukraine!

Turning Gobbledygook Into Useful Garbage

Stumped. Writer’s Block. Stymied. Confused. It’s all a jumble of nothingness.

What Do You Write When You Don’t Know What to Write About?

So, how do you turn nothingness into somethingness? Start writing! Anything.

The words will come, thoughts will flow and, eventually, creativity will blossom.

You can’t force it, however. It must evolve naturally, at your own pace. Usually, if a creative suggestion doesn’t appear in your thoughts within about 20 minutes or so, abort the process and go on to something else. Then come back to it hours later or the following day.

Some writers think before they write. Some think as they write. Some writers don’t think at all; they just write a bunch of gobbledygook. That’s fine, as long as you go back and turn the gobbledygook into useful garbage.

Turning that garbage into something quite palpable and enticing will take a process of editing and refinement but when you’re at this stage, you’ve got it made.

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

Live Long and Prosper, Ukraine!

 

March Madness, er, uh, Quotes, That Is!

The quotations are as varied as the people who said them. Some you know, some you don’t. That’s what makes them interesting. From Burke to Burnett, Einstein to Degas; throw in a little Serling for seasoning and you’ve got a tasty recipe for March’s quotes.

 

We don’t grow unless we take risks. Any successful company is riddled with failures. — James E. Burke, Advertising Hall of Fame

Success or failure in business is caused more by mental attitude than by mental capacities. — Walter Dill Scott, Advertising Hall of Fame

Anyone who thinks that people can be fooled or pushed around has an inaccurate and pretty low estimate of people — and he won’t do very well in advertising. — Leo Burnett, Advertising Hall of Fame

If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research, would it? – Albert Einstein

If you fall in love with the imagination, you understand that it is a free spirit. It will go anywhere, and it can do anything. – Alice Walker

Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect. – Steven Wright

You must aim high, not in what you are going to do at some future date, but in what you are going to make yourself do to-day. Otherwise, working is just a waste of time. – Edgar Degas

Our job is to simplify, to tear away the unrelated, to pluck out the weeds that are smothering the product message. — William Bernbach, Advertising Hall of Fame

How do we turn science fiction into fact? We do it by inventing our own future and figuring out the realistic steps that we need to make in order to get there. Dare to dream. Let your imagination leap. — David Shapton, Editor In Chief, RedShark Publications, 2012 to 2020

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

 

Live Long and Prosper, Ukraine!

 

 

The Shadows: a Short Story of Ghastly Gatherings

Today is a different kind of blog post. I’m using it to introduce my newest piece of short story fiction. It took me a longer than expected amount of time to complete it, but I finally did. Hope you enjoy it!

********

Welcome! This is a profile in the macabre. It’s a short story about a family who lived in the 19th Century. They lived a rather normal lifestyle back then, aside from a few setbacks in life. They’ve survived but not in the way you might expect.

Introducing the Graybeers: Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan and Priscilla Graybeers, and their two children, Tony and Stephanie, ages 14 and 16, respectively, at the time of death. Tony was shot in the head while Stephanie was downed by an ax. Back in 1862.

Mr. and Mrs. Graybeers committed suicide, each at the other’s hands. In 1863, following a tumultuous year of mental anguish over the loss of their children. It seems mental illness takes its toll.

Looking back, they were a typical northeastern suburban family, college educated, upper middle class, sports-minded.

In present day, they’re like most other families of similar ilk except for one thing: they can disappear. Oh, yes, one other thing: they don’t really have human form; they’re not ghosts, they’re shadows from their former life. They even live in a mansion called The Shadows, which is near a cemetery.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-cemetary-by-jaroslav-gebr.jpg
The Cemetery by Jaroslav Gebr

Aside from select social occasions, the family rarely leaves the Shadows. The mansion has been in their family for centuries. And the location next to the cemetery has always been a family favorite, so no one has ever thought of selling the property.

Although on rare occasions, an unwitting realtor will appear at the door only to be “greeted” by Mr. Graybeers himself. But being a shadow, he really can’t be seen so the realtor leaves his card and walks away, seemingly unaffected by the opening and closing of the door — by itself.

Continue reading

To Quote is to Speak, to Listen, to Learn!

The subject matter may vary. The speaker may vary. The quote may still be memorable no matter who says it. Keep that in mind when reciting any one of the quotes below. It will make for a memorable occasion.

 

Advertising becomes a dialogue that becomes an invitation to a relationship. — Lester Wunderman, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Thinking about ourselves isn’t related to knowing ourselves. — Lauren Esposito, arachnologist, co-founder of 500 Queer Scientists

Nothing comes merely by thinking about it. — John Wanamaker, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Regardless of the moral issue, dishonesty in advertising has proved very unprofitable. — Leo Burnett, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Attract attention, maintain interest, create desire and get action. — E. Elmo St. Lewis, member, Advertising Hall of Fame


Rules are for people who don’t know what to do. — Keith Reinhard, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

I don’t like closed doors. Creativity flourishes best in an environment of open doors and open minds. — Keith Reinhard, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Advertising is what you do when you can’t go see somebody. That’s all it is. — Fairfax Cone, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.