Saturday, 16 February 2013

How Creativity works – Jonathan Lehrer 2012

Plenty obvious tips and tricks how to work in advertising and how to create a successful agency:  „This book is about how such moments happen. It is about our most important mental talent: the ability to imagine what has never existed.“ (Lehrer 2012)

„Every creative journey begins with a problem. It starts with a feeling of frustration, the dull ache of not being able to find the answer. We have worked hard, but we’ve hit the wall. We have no idea what to do next.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 239) „It’s often only at this point, after we’ve stopped searching for the answer, that the answer arrives.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 249)  „The question, of course, is how these insights happen.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 265).

„Perhaps the purpose of the right hemisphere was doing the very thing he was trying to do: find the subtle connections between seemingly unrelated things.“ (Lehrer, 2012,1 285).  “It needs to see the forest and the trees. The right hemisphere is what helps you see the forest.” (Lehrer, 2012, 288). „When I solved puzzles with analysis, I tended to sound out each possible combination, cycling through each of the different words that went with age and then seeing if it also worked with mile and then sand. When I came up with a solution, I always double-checked it before pressing the space bar. An insight, by contrast, was instantaneous: the word felt like a revelation.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 376). „The suddenness of the insight is preceded by an equally sudden burst of brain activity.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 406).

„Instead of composing freely, poets frustrate themselves with structural constraints. But that’s precisely the point. Unless poets are stumped by the form, unless they are forced to look beyond the obvious associations, they’ll never invent an original line.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 489). „You break out of the box by stepping into shackles.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 506).

A researcher used „EEG to help explain why interrupting one’s focus—perhaps with a walk outside or a game of Ping-Pong—can be so helpful. Interestingly, Bhattacharya has found that it’s possible to predict that a person will solve an insight puzzle up to eight seconds before the insight actually arrives.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 595). „The essential element is a steady rhythm of alpha waves emanating from the right hemisphere. While the precise function of alpha waves remains mysterious, they’re closely associated with relaxing activities such as taking a warm shower.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 599).  

„it’s important to find time to unwind, to eavesdrop on all those remote associations coming from the right hemisphere. Instead of drinking another cup of coffee, indulge in a little daydreaming. Rather than relentlessly focusing, take a warm shower, or play some Ping-Pong, or walk on the beach.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 888). “We wanted them to have a blank mind. I assumed that this would lead to a real drop in brain activity. But I was wrong.” (Lehrer, 2012, 795). „“When you don’t use a muscle, that muscle isn’t doing much,” Raichle says. “But when your brain is supposedly doing nothing, it’s really doing a tremendous amount.”“ (Lehrer, 2012, 799).

„Modern science has given Nietzsche’s categories a new set of names. The Dionysian innovator, trusting all those spontaneous epiphanies, is a perfect example of divergent thinking.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 1081). „The Apollonian artist, by comparison, relies on convergent thinking. This mode of thought is all about analysis and attention.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 1086). „I think people need to be reminded that creativity is a verb, a very time-consuming verb. It’s about taking an idea in your head, and transforming that idea into something real. And that’s always going to be a long and difficult process. If you’re doing it right, it’s going to feel like work.“” (Lehrer, 2012,1154).

„For Ma, the tedium of the flawless performance taught him that there is often a tradeoff between perfection and expression. “If you are only worried about not making a mistake, then you will communicate nothing,” he says. “You will have missed the point of making music, which is to make people feel something.”“ (Lehrer, 2012, 1395). „I will make a mistake on stage. And you know what? I welcome that first mistake. Because then I can shrug it off and keep smiling. Then I can get on with the performance and turn off that part of the mind that judges everything. I’m not thinking or worrying anymore. And it’s when I’m least conscious of what I’m doing, when I’m just lost in the emotion of the music, that I’m performing at my best.”“ (Lehrer, 2012, 1423).

„But Jobs (at Pixar) realized that it wasn’t enough simply to create an airy atrium; he needed to force people to go there. Jobs began with the mailboxes, which he shifted to the lobby. Then he moved the meeting rooms to the center of the building, followed by the cafeteria and coffee bar and gift shop. But that still wasn’t enough, which is why Jobs eventually decided to locate the only set of bathrooms in the atrium. “At first, I thought this was the most ridiculous idea,” says Darla Anderson, an executive producer on several Pixar films. “I have to go to the bathroom every thirty minutes. I didn’t want to have to walk all the way to the atrium every time I needed to go. That’s just a waste of time. But Steve said, ‘Everybody has to run into each other.’ He really believed that the best meetings happened by accident, in the hallway or parking lot.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 2269).

„“Because you can take the same person, and if you just move them from a city of fifty thousand to a city of six million, then all of a sudden they’re going to do three times more of everything we can measure. It doesn’t matter where the city is or which cities you’re talking about. The law remains the same.”“ (Lehrer, 2012, 2788). „“Cities are this inexhaustible source of ideas,” West says. “And that’s entirely because of these equations. As cities get bigger, everything starts accelerating.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 2800). „The results were astonishing: businesspeople with entropic networks full of weak ties were three times more innovative than people with small networks of close friends. Instead of getting stuck in the rut of conformity—thinking the same tired thoughts as everyone else—they were able to invent profitable new concepts.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 3015).

„The first thing we have to ensure is that our new digital contacts don’t detract from our real connections, from the analog conversations of the physical world. Twitter has its uses, but it’s no substitute for the ballet of Hudson Street, just as the weak ties of Facebook cannot replace the weak ties of life.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 3072).  „The Internet has such creative potential; it’s so ripe with weirdness and originality, so full of people eager to share their work and ideas. What we need now is a virtual world that brings us together for real.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 3081).

„This raises the obvious question: Why are corporations so fleeting? After spending twenty-five thousand dollars for statistics on more than eighty-five hundred publicly traded companies, West and Bettencourt discovered that corporate productivity, unlike urban productivity, didn’t increase with size. In fact, the opposite happened: as the number of employees grew, the amount of profit per employee shrank.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 3094). „Instead of imitating the freewheeling city, these businesses minimize the very interactions that lead to new ideas. They erect walls and establish hierarchies. They keep people from relaxing and having insights.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 3099). „Rather than maximizing employee creativity, they become obsessed with minor efficiencies.“ (Lehrer, 2012, 3100).

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Salman Rushdie – The Moor’s last sigh 1996

This is a book about India and what the narrator, the Moor – a Jewish Christian in India, i.e. double outsider - loves about it.  And how all is lost, without the Moor or anyone else fighting for it.
Hence the title: the moor’s last sigh, i.e. the moment when Boabdil, the last King of the Alhambra, which he gave up to the Christian without fighting for it. Fleeing he turns one last time to it and sighs and his mother says: “That since he had not been able to defend it like a man, he was right in crying for it like a woman.”

Yet, I never managed to connect to the book. All the language games were funny, but somehow felt a bit like too technical, rather than engaging. It feels like a book about language, rather than a book about life. The single parts and quotes you see here make me interested in reading more. But as a book, it wasn’t gripping.

„Suspiro ergo sum.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.81). „A sigh isn’t just a sigh. We inhale the world and breathe out meaning. While we can. While we can.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.81).

„for Indian rats, as we know, carry gods as well as plagues.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.175).

„My three sisters were born in quick succession, and Aurora carried and ejected each oft hem with such perfunctory attention to their presence that they knew, long befroe their births, that she would make few concessions to their post-partum needs. The names she gave them confirmed these suspicions. The eldest, originally called Christina in spite of her Jewish father’s protests, eventually had her name sliced in half. ‚Stop sulking, Abie,’ Aurora commanded. ‚From now on she’s plain Ina without the Christ.’ So poor In grew up wioth only half a handle, and when the second child was born a year later matters were made worse because this time Aurora insisted on ‚Inamorata’. Abraham protested again: ‚People will confuse,’ he said plaintively. ‚And with this Ina-more it is like saying she is Ina-plus ...’ Aurora shrugged. ‚Ina was a ten pound baby, the little so-and-so,’ she reminded Abraham. ‚Head like a cannonball, hips like a ship’s behind. How can this little pocket mousey be anything but Ina-minus?’ Within a week, she had decided that Baby Inamorata, the five-pound mouse, bore a close resemblance to a famous cartoon rodent – ‚all big ears, wide eyes and polka dots’ – and my middle suster was always Minnie after that. When Aurora announced, eighteen months later, that her newborn third daughter would be Philomina, Abraham tore his hair. ‚Now comes this Minnie-‚meena mix-up,’ he groaned. ‚And another –ina, too.’“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.199).

„the point I am making is that, while there can be no disputing that I was conceived in the Lord’s Central house, Matheran, it is also unarguably the case that when Baby Gargantua Zogoiby drew his first, surprising breath at the elite private nursing home-cum-nunnery oft he Sisters of Maria Gratiaplena on Altamount Road, Bomby, his physical development was already so advanced – a generous erection serving somewhat to impede his passage down the birth canal – that nobody in their right mond would have though of calling him half-formed.
Premature? Post-mature is much more like it.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.205).

„if he opposed answer-and-question pairs there/where, then/when, that/what, thither/whither, thence/whence all existed, then, Vasco argued, ‚every this must also have ist whis, every these ist whese, every those its whoase.’“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.214).

„And if life is hard for ‚natural’ left-handers, how much harder it was for me – it turned out that I was a right-handed entity, a dexter, whose right hand just happened to be a wreck. It was as hard for me to learn to write with my left as it would be for any righty in the world.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.217).

„the knowledge that life had dealt me a bad hand, and a freak of nature was obliging me to play it out too fast.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.217).

„It seemed that in the pursuit of his chosen future he had shed all affiliations of blood and place, a decision which implied a certain ruthlessness, and hinted too, at instability. He was his own invention, and it should have occurred to Aurora – as it occurred to Abraham and to many members of their circle, as it occurred to my sisters but not to me that the invention might not work, that in the end it might fall apart.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.222).

„I was secretly rejoicing in all that compacted humanity, in being pushed so tightly together that privacy ceased to exist and the boundaries of your self began to dissolve, that feeling which we only get when we are in crowds, or in love.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.272).

„There was a knotty tree-stump pf a mole – signifying the recalcitrance of true faith – on her upper lip, and from it there protruded like arrows – hinting at the sufferings of a true believer – half a dozen needles of hair.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.297).

„The very nature of this inter-community league of cynical self-interest gave the lie to Mainduck’s vision of a theocracy in which one particular variant of Hinduism would rule, while all India’s other people bowed their beaten heads.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.3465).

„In room after empty room I found the settings of Aurora’s pictures brought to life, and I half-expected her characters to walk in and enact their sad narrative before my disbelieving eyes, half-expected my own body to frow into that lozenged, particoloured Moor whose tragedy – the tragedy of multiplicity destroyed by singularity, the defeat of Many by One – had been the sequence’s uniting principle.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.570).

„Follow your instincts and outstincts! Here he may be undercover but you have seem him overcover!“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.581).

„Why should I believe a word of that Minto story, after all? O, I was lost in fictions.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.583).

„How, when the past is gone, when all’s exploded and in rags, may one apportion blame?“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.584).

„’All of you ... terrible, terrible.’ Then after a pause: ‚Couldn’t you all have just ... calmed down?’“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.597).

„The Alhambra, Europe’s red fort, sister to Delhi’s and Agra’s – the palace of interlocking forms and secret wisdom, of pleasure-courts and water-gardens, that monument to a lost possibility that nevertheless has gone on standing, long after ist conquerors have fallen.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.605).

„to that most profound of our needs, to our need for flowing together, for putting an end to frontiers, fort he dropping of boundaries oft he self.“ (Rushdie, 1996, p.605).