Creativity Quotes

From a mini-seminar-discussion on 2013-03-13, selected inspirational extracts from ZhurnalyWiki pages:

Keith Johnstone (Yes, and...):

There are people who prefer to say 'Yes', and there are people who prefer to say 'No'. Those who say 'Yes' are rewarded by the adventures they have, and those who say 'No' are rewarded by the safety they attain. There are far more 'No' sayers than 'Yes' sayers, ...

Charlie Mingus (AwesomelySimple):

"Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can play weird --- that's easy. What's hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple complicated is commonplace --- making the complicated simple, awesomely simple --- that's creativity."

W. J. Leveque (CreativeDevices):

"What is a trick the first time one meets it is a device the second time and a method the third time."

... and Michael Kimmelman:

"Bach, whose music has the most rules, also gives the most freedom, a paradoxical quality of creativity."

Shunryu Suzuki (Not_Always_So):

So the secret is just to say "Yes!" and jump off from here. Then there is no problem. It means to be yourself in the present moment, always yourself, without sticking to an old self. You forget all about yourself and are refreshed. You are a new self, and before that self becomes an old self, you say "Yes!" and you walk to the kitchen for breakfast. So the point on each moment is to forget the point and extend your practice.

As Dogen Zenji says, "To study Buddhism is to study yourself. To study yourself is to forget yourself on each moment." Then everything will come and help you. Everything will assure your enlightenment. ...

... and:

The secret of Soto Zen is just two words: "Not always so." Oops—three words in English. In Japanese, two words. "Not always so." This is the secret of the teaching. It may be so, but it is not always so. Without being caught by words or rules, without too many preconceived ideas, we actually do something, and doing something, we apply our teaching.

Michael Shermer (TenThousandHours):

"What does it take to be a creative genius and reach the top of your field? First of all, there's a minimal 10,000-hour rule. If you want to master a sport or a skill or a subject, that comes out to about 60 hours per week for about three and a half years. That's true in all professions. It doesn't mean you'll make it. Good biology and genes help. But look at Mozart. He didn't just plop out of nowhere as some people think. He had the father and the training and did the 10,000 hours when he was 6, rather than 26, when most of us find our way in life. Earlier devotion, of course, does help the genius to come out."

Jon Kabat-Zinn (Ceaseless_Society):

... Creativity is mysterious, but one way to generate or tilt the probability of creativity is to cultivate more spaciousness in the mind, because thought tends to sort of contract and then get [...] stymied, when it can't get to the next thought.

And sometimes, if you learn how to just stand there, at what the Zen people in the Zen archery world call the point of highest tension — nobody could string or hold back Odysseus's bow except Odysseus, nobody — but when you can stand at the point of highest tension with your thoughts going nowhere and hold it in something bigger, wakefully, not necessarily in a dream, but actually wakefully, interesting connections seem to appear because they're already here.

But we are in some sense blind to them because our thinking itself acts like lenses and prevents us from seeing orthogonal opportunities, opportunities that are rotated in some way in relationship to the passive assumptions, to what's already known.

And what science is about is going between what's already known and the next that's going to be known — but how it is going to happen, and part of that is just an incredibly beautiful adventure. ...

John Cleese (HareBrainTortoiseMind):

In a nutshell, [Cleese] said, Claxton describes the "hare brain" as logical, fast, machine-like thinking. The "tortoise mind," on the other hand, is slower, less focused, less articulate, much more playful, almost dreamy. In his book, Claxton says the two sides need each other to come up with not just ideas, but good ideas. He also cites a number of studies suggesting that people should trust their hunches more.

The problem in business, Cleese said, is that three forces are leaving no room for the tortoise mind—a "terribly dangerous" development that stifles creativity and innovation and inevitably leads to bad decisions.

These forces, he said, are the widely held, but misguided, beliefs that being decisive means making decisions quickly, that fast is always better and that we should think of our minds as being like computers.

. . .

The pressure on managers at all levels to act quickly is enormous, he said. "Although taking decisions very fast looks impressive, it is in fact not only show-off behavior, but actually a bit cowardly. It shows you'd rather give the impression of decisiveness than wait to substantially improve your chances of coming up with the right decision."

Disney Imagineering (Ideas_and_Identity):

... Disney Imagineering philosophy is to relentlessly separate ideas from identity. That is, if you invent something you shouldn't cling to it and feel that you must "own" it and develop it. Rather, you should share it with others and enlist their help in developing it. Collaboration is crucial in making something great. All ideas are built upon older ones.

Keith Johnstone (Impro):

At about the age of nine I decided never to believe anything because it was convenient. I began reversing every statement to see if the opposite was also true. This is so much a habit with me that I hardly notice I'm doing it any more. As soon as you put a 'not' into an assertion, a whole range of other possibilities opens out—especially in drama, where everything is supposition anyway. When I began teaching, it was very natural for me to reverse everything my own teachers had done. I got my actors to make faces, insult each other, always to leap before they looked, to scream and shout and misbehave in all sorts of ingenious ways. It was like having a whole tradition of improvisation teaching behind me. In a normal education everything is designed to suppress spontaneity, but I wanted to develop it.

Z. A. Melzak (InSearchOfTheFulcrum):

"He had little to be proud of except perhaps for this: that he differed in almost everything that matters from almost everybody. This sustained him in his struggles by inspiring the belief that he could not be everywhere wrong. He was profoundly grateful not for a glimpse of horror that was vouchsafed him, but for the accident of strength to bear it and to rebuild himself several times upon new foundations."

... and in his book 'Bypasses' (Michael Mikhaylovich Speranski):

"The relevance of bypass as a rhetorical device is forcibly shown by Tolstoy in War and Peace (the Maude translation, Bk. VI, Ch. VI, p. 22) in words that are, from our point of view at least, very striking; Tolstoy here describes Michael Speranski, who was for a time a favorite counsellor of the Tsar Alexander. After telling us that metaphysics was a resource the brilliant Speranski very frequently employed in argument, Tolstoy goes on to say: 'He would transfer a question to metaphysical heights, pass on to definitions of space, time, and thought, and having deduced the refutation he needed, would again descend to the level of the original discussion.' "

Robert Maurer (One_Small_Step):

David Allen (Mind_Like_Water):

In karate there is an image that's used to define the position of perfect readiness: "mind like water." Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond. How does the water respond? The answer is, totally appropriately to the force and mass of the input; then it returns to calm. It doesn't overreact or underreact.

... and a few pages later:

Ralph Waldo Emerson (RalphWaldoEmerson):

Quotation — yes, but how differently persons quote! I am as much informed of your genius by what you select, as by what you originate. I read the quotation with your eyes, & find a new & fervent sense. ... For good quoting, then, there must be originality in the quoter --- bent, bias, delight in the truth, & only valuing the author in the measure of his agreement with the truth which we see, & which he had the luck to see first. And originality, what is that? It is being; being somebody, being yourself, & reporting accurately what you see & are. If another's words describe your fact, use them as freely as you use the language & the alphabet, whose use does not impair your originality. Neither will another's sentiment or distinction impugn your sufficiency. Yet in proportion to your reality of life & perception, will be your difficulty of finding yourself expressed in others' words or deeds.

^z - 2014-06-12