Archives for February, 2012


Left Brain, Right Brain – Creativity And Innovation

This image is from a series of Mercedes Benz ads. The text reads:

Left brain: I am the left brain. I am a scientist. A mathematician. I love the familiar. I categorize. I am accurate. Linear. Analytical. Strategic. I am practical. Always in control. A master of words and language. Realistic. I calculate equations and play with numbers. I am order. I am logic. I know exactly who I am.

Right brain: I am the right brain. I am creativity. A free spirit. I am passion. Yearning. Sensuality. I am the sound of roaring laughter. I am taste. The feeling of sand beneath bare feet. I am movement. Vivid colors. I am the urge to paint on an empty canvas. I am boundless imagination. Art. Poetry. I sense. I feel. I am everything I wanted to be.

[Image and text from post: Left Brain/Right Brain: Gorgeously Illustrated Mercedes Benz Ads.]

Having two "brains" with different functions is valid neuroscience. But how true is the idea of the right hemisphere being the "creative" one?

As popular and appealing as that concept is, it can also be a misleading oversimplification. A number of writers and neuroscientists encourage an integration of thinking, using both sides of our brain/mind.

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Creative Thinking

Jonah Lehrer on the Science of Creativity & Innovation

“I have always spent most of my time staring out the window, noting what is there, daydreaming, or brooding.”  Joyce Carol Oates

One of the themes that prolific writer Jonah Lehrer develops in his upcoming book "Imagine: How Creativity Works" is that daydreaming can enhance creativity and innovation.

That quote by author Joyce Carol Oates is from my post Developing Creativity by Staring Out the Window - which briefly touches on this topic.

Biographer Walter Isaacson notes Einstein "was slow in learning to talk. They called him the dopey one in the family… But he did thought experiments in his head, what we call daydreaming." [From my post The inspiration of Einstein.]

Einstein was expelled from school (in 1894) for “undermining the authority of his teachers and being a disruptive influence.” A teacher described him as “mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in his foolish dreams.” [From my post Developing creativity by nurturing divergent thinking.]

The Crayon image above is from the post Classroom Creativity by Jonah Lehrer, in which he comments:

"The classroom isn't designed for impulsive expression - that's called talking out of turn.

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Hearing in Colors, Tasting Voices: The Experience of Synesthesia

"What would be truly surprising would be to find that sound could not suggest colour, that colours could not evoke the idea of a melody, and that sound and colour were unsuitable for the translation of ideas, seeing that things have always found their expression through a system of reciprocal analogy." Charles Baudelaire
A simple definition of synesthesia is that it is a "crosstalking" or overlapping of sensory experiences that for most people remain separate.

Researchers find a higher proportion of creative people are synesthetes.

The image is from the book "The Hidden Sense: Synesthesia in Art and Science."

The publisher explains that synesthesia occurs "when two or more senses cooperate in perception. Once dismissed as imagination or delusion, metaphor or drug-induced hallucination, the experience of synesthesia has now been documented by scans of synesthetes' brains…"

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Creative Thinking

Rethinking Depression and Creativity

"I equated creativity with artists, innovators, entrepreneurs, designers, fashion… I was none of that – until I sunk into depression."

Writer Enoch Li says she never thought she had any creative talent, but in dealing with depression "rediscovered my creativity, which spurred my recovery."

From post on my Depression and Creativity site: Depressed Creativity.

Many of us have found that creative expression can help deal with depressive feelings.

But a number of writers and psychologists are questioning the validity of the long history of associating depression with creativity.

In her post Depression, Creativity, and a New Pair of Shoes, Shelley H. Carson, Ph.D. writes, "After reading a newspaper article about some of the current research linking depressive disorders to creativity, an artist friend of mine commented, 'Well, I guess now all I have to do is get depressed and my work will improve.'

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Creative Thinking

Playing Video Games and Your Creative Mind

Creative thinking and expression involves many skills and cognitive abilities, which can be enhanced by all sorts of experiences, even video games.

As reported in a news release, a Michigan State University study concluded that "both boys and girls who play video games tend to be more creative, regardless of whether the games are violent or nonviolent."

"A study of nearly 500 12-year-olds found that the more kids played video games, the more creative they were in tasks such as drawing pictures and writing stories. In contrast, use of cell phones, the Internet and computers (other than for video games) was unrelated to creativity."

Professor of psychology Linda Jackson, the lead researcher, said the study "may be the first evidence-based demonstration of a relationship between technology use and creativity."

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Michelle Williams on Acting and Imagination

"Using your imagination is always a fine thing for an actor to do."
Michelle Williams

"Great acting comes from a well-developed imagination."
Acting teacher Jason Bennett

Imagination is central to creative expression.

Psychologist Carl Jung talked about using imagination as a means to access our unconscious, one of the main sources of creative ideas and energies.

He developed the concept of Active Imagination as a "meditation technique wherein the contents of one's unconscious are translated into images, narrative or personified as separate entities.

"It can serve as a bridge between the conscious 'ego' and the unconscious and includes working with dreams and the creative self via imagination or fantasy."  [Wikipedia]

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Creative Thinking

Screenwriting: Karen Moncrieff on Creating a Heightened Awareness of Human Struggles

“Maybe my calling is to feel deeply some aspects of human pain and grief.” Karen Moncrieff

Writing the script for one of her insightful and powerful movies - Blue Car (2002) - was a "wrenching, emotional experience" for writer and director Karen Moncrieff, according to a Writers Guild magazine article.

She wrote it, she said, as “a reaction to films I had seen, like Stealing Beauty, a very idealized view of a girl’s coming of age. I wanted to get inside the woman’s experience and tell the story from her own perspective.”

From my Inner Writer post Writing Honestly: Writing and Fear.

Film reviewer Roger Ebert noted the story is about "a vulnerable teenage girl [Agnes Bruckner] who falls into the emotional trap set by her high school English teacher [David Strathairn]. The teacher watches with horror, too: He knows what he is doing [sexual abuse] is wrong, but he is weak, and pities himself more than the sad girl he is exploiting."

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Creative Thinking

An Intense Inner Pressure to Create

"I started out as a painter, and then painting led to cinema... Then cinema led to so many different areas…" David Lynch
In her book, Mary-Elaine Jacobsen quotes some insightful comments by Annemarie Roeper (founder of the Roeper School and The Roeper Review, a professional journal on the gifted) about the intense inner pressure to create as a characteristic of high ability people:

"Gifted adults may be overwhelmed by the pressure of their own creativity. The gifted derive enormous satisfaction from the creative process.

"Much has been written about this process: how it works, the pressure of the inner agenda, the different phases it involves, the excitement and anxiety that comes with it, and the role played by the unconscious."

She adds, "I believe the whole process is accompanied by a feeling of aliveness, of power, of capability, of enormous relief and of transcendence of the limits of our own body and soul. The 'unique self' flows into the world outside. It is like giving birth.

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