Archives for October, 2011
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Leonardo da Vinci "We tried to make something much more holistic and simple." Steve Jobs One of the reasons for the success of Apple products is their sophisticated simplicity. Every time I go to use a Windows PC, I appreciate more how intuitive and accessible my iMac is - which encourages more creative work and accomplishment. Commenting about the iPod, Steve Jobs said "Look at the design of a lot of consumer products — they're really complicated surfaces. We tried to make something much more holistic and simple. "When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions. Most people just don't put in the time or energy to get there." (Newsweek, 14 October 2006)
Listening to Walter Isaacson (in his interview with Charlie Rose) about his new bio of Steve Jobs, one of his comments that caught my attention was this [paraphrased]: "The deep emotionalism surprised me. He'd be talking and I looked up and there were tears… He was talking about the ad campaign 'Here's to the Crazy Ones' and he got very emotional." Here is a quote from the bio, by Joe Nocera, then a writer for Esquire, describing Jobs' intensity at a NeXT computer staff meeting: "It's not quite right to say that he is sitting through this staff meeting because Jobs doesn't sit through much of anything; one of the ways he dominates is through sheer movement. One moment he's kneeling in his chair, the next minute he's slouching in it; the next he has leaped out of his chair entirely and is scribbling on the blackboard directly behind him. He is full of mannerisms. He bites his nails. He stares with unnerving earnestness at whoever is speaking. His hands, which are slightly and inexplicably yellow, are in constant motion."
Are you waiting for a muse? Are you telling yourself you are not creative? Those are two of the limitations creativity author Michael Michalko addresses in his article The Seven Deadly Sins that Prevent Creative Thinking. Here are two excerpts, with some of my comments. SIN ONE - "People do not believe they are creative. We have been taught that we are the product of our genes, our parents, our family history, our personal history, our I.Q., and our education. Consequently, we have been conditioned to have a fixed mindset about creativity and believe only a select few are born creative and the rest not." The painting is "Kiss of the Muse" by Paul Cezanne, from my article Creative talent: genetics, a muse, or hard work? - which also includes a video of author Elizabeth Gilbert from her presentation for a TED Conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design). The video description notes she considered ‘the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius.’
Mike White has been a writer and producer, sometimes actor, on many film and TV projects including Dawson's Creek, Freaks and Geeks, Chuck & Buck, The Good Girl, Orange County, and School of Rock. His new HBO series Enlightened, created with Laura Dern, is slotted as a comedy, but brings up many issues about personal growth and emotional health. Dern plays Amy, an ambitious executive who suffers a nervous breakdown at work, and recovers at a rehab center in Hawaii, which includes meditation. She regains better emotional health, along with new interests in self-help books, and an awakening about spiritual and environmental issues. One of the aspects of the show, and Laura Dern's outstanding acting, that I really like is that this journey is not presented as something easy or sudden - the title "Enlightened" is clearly ironic. Personal change is pretty much an evolutionary process, and Amy does not return from rehab as a role model of emotional intelligence. Upon returning to her large corporation to reclaim her job, Amy is relegated to a basement data processing center instead of her previous position - and she views it as a basement full of "circus freaks" and "losers" as she calls them, including a character played by White (photo).
"I found I didn't have an attention deficit disorder when I could focus my attention on what I like most." Robert Toth In my earlier post How Many Uses for a Shoe? Divergent Thinking, ADD and Creativity, I mentioned a research study showing that young adults with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) achieved better performance on standardized creativity tests. A Publishers Weekly summary of The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child, says the book proposes that "ADHD is a trait (referred to here as the Edison gene, because the inventor Thomas Edison is believed to have had the trait) rather than a disorder, because it once provided useful skills for functioning in a hunter-gatherer society."
"Because I think visually, not being able to read meant that other parts of my brain were pushed further…" That is a comment by movie director Joe Wright about being dyslexic, from an NPR / All Things Considered show which I found thanks to the Dyslexic Advantage Facebook page of Brock Eide, MD, MA, and Fernette Eide, MD, on which they list other highly talented people, and the advantages of the 'unique brain structure and organization' of dyslexia. The photo is Joe Wright on the set of "Atonement" - based on Ian McEwan's novel. In an article on the NPR show, Wright said he was aided in his approach to literary adaptation (he also directed "Pride and Prejudice") by the fact that he is dyslexic, and a slow reader.
"It's like having a drink. But it's quicker. You know how your brain shuts down from pain? The pain would be so bad, it would force my body to slow down, and I wouldn't be as anxious. It made me calm." That is a quote by Christina Ricci from a 1998 Rolling Stone interview, explaining that the scratches on her forearms came from her using fingernails and soda tops. In another magazine interview she revealed that she sometimes would put out cigarettes out on her arms. When asked if it hurts she replied, "No. You get this endorphin rush. You can actually faint from pain. It takes a second, a little sting, and then it's like you really don't feel anything. It's calming actually." Other well-known people who have engaged in cutting or other forms of self-harm include teen actor and singer Demi Lovato, who has at least one album, and has been candid about her rehab for mental health problems including bulimia.
Among other creative works, Diablo Cody wrote a couple of my favorite films: Juno, and Jennifer's Body, and the richly dramatic and comedic - and unfortunately canceled - TV series United States of Tara, executive produced by Steven Spielberg and starring Toni Collette. Her script for Juno (2007) earned her an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. In some interviews and her own writing before the Oscar win, she talked about her perspectives on creative expression, on being an artist, and keeping her work real.
Of course, you can write a book for yourself alone, but most writers want to reach an audience, and have many people reading their creations. Some interesting statistics: 1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. 42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college. 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year. [From the site: HotForWords.] With all the evolutions in how people consume entertainment and information, the delivery channels of journalism, literature and other forms of writing are also changing. Writers need to be more entrepreneurial.