Monday, 19 May 2014

The Creativity of Man

As the saying goes 'judge a tree by the fruit it bears' and one of the largest fruits that man bears is his ability to innovate.  We need to simply look around at the most mundane and common materials and see what wondrous variety of goods man can turn them in to.

Man can make 1,001 goods from bamboo
Man can make 1,001 goods from common grass (wheat/straw)
Man can make 1,001 goods from common sedimentary rock (clay)

All of these creations and more are the result of the average man, not a cartoon-like super-hero but an ordinary John Doe, finding his creative spring deep inside of himself, and letting it flow out on to the world.  Letting his creative juices flow out and fertilise the world, & fertilise the minds of other men in the process.

Fertility of the mind comes from within, not from without.  It comes from inside the man, rather than from provocation by others.  Putting a man into an institution of learning will make him more learned, more informed, but it won't make him any more creative.  If anything it could well do the opposite and actually dull his creative juices.  He will be able to write essays full of thoughts and recite impressive facts, but these will be thoughts that were first thought by another man, and facts first determined by another man.  He won't have created anything at all.  The fact that universities and colleges do not produce creative thinkers is not a new one, indeed Paracelsus noted this way back in the 16th century:
[Paracelsus] wrote later that he wondered how “the high colleges managed to produce so many high asses,” a typical Paracelsian jibe.
As did Schopenhauer again in the 19th century:
And so the simple man of learning, in the strict sense of the word—the ordinary professor, for instance—looks upon the genius much as we look upon a hare, which is good to eat after it has been killed and dressed up. So long as it is alive, it is only good to shoot at.
So what should a man do if he wants to find his own creative spring and let it flow?  Well one way is by looking at other creative men and see what kind of lives they led.  If we look at the lives of such men then we see that they they experimented in a gentle, almost playful, manner, as much as they studied about the world.  One needs to have both parts: creative fire and knowledge of the world (a mental library) through which the creative ideas can express themselves in the mind of the man.  Frank Whittle for instance (the inventor of the jet engine) found that the environment of a model aircraft society was more conducive to his creative forces than the stifling confines of a classroom.  That's right, the inventor of the jet engine enjoyed playing with toy planes!  Benjamin Franklin played with a common kids toy, a kite, which led to him making advances in the knowledge of electricity.  A kite!  Alastair Pilkington (who revolutionised glass production) got his idea while doing the washing-up!  He wasn't stuck away in some hi-tech lab somewhere surrounded by men in white coats frowning their brows at clipboards with charts on them.  The common themes amongst the discoveries are:
  • They enjoyed what they were doing (rather than feeling antipathy towards what they were doing).
  • They were light-hearted and receptive to new ideas (rather than stressed out over over-focused).
  • They were willing to go with the ideas, be carried along by them (rather than dismiss them, belittle them or otherwise think less of them).
  • They were in comfortable surroundings.
  • Their senses weren't overloaded with external stimuli.
That's the way creation is done: Man as a channel, a relaxed pipe through which the creative juices flow.


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