I don't recall if I mentioned it earlier, but just in case...
David Gelernter wrote a book titled _The Muse in the Machine_ a while back.
In that book, he describes consciousness as a continuum: on the left (or
right, if you wish), is the unconscious state, and on the opposite end
(there really is no end on a continuum, but you get my drift), is extreme
consciousness. Gelernter characterizes extreme consciousness as a region of
consciousness states within which extreme application of logic occurs.
Gelernter then describes creativity as occuring in a region of consciousness
states in which one is neither unconscious, nor logical. One is awake, but
one is not paying attention to whatever *rules* would interfere with
connecting dots. Thus, the creative process is one in which dots get
connected that would otherwise be blocked by logical processes.
For me, this explains why I am able to realize new connections when I am
driving along a country road, playing the piano, or even describing
something to someone (during which event, that something acquires new
embellishments I hadn't noticed before).
I suspect that Gelernter's explanation is but one view of the whole picture,
but it is this: creativity involves breaking rules. I look at it this way:
you can break rules and connect dots somebody told you not to connect, or
you can break rules that would otherwise block stepping outside the box
looking for new dots; Apples "Think Different." This view offers the
suggestion, at least to me, for a reason why my children can figure things
out much faster than I can; likely as not, they do not use nearly as rich a
set of rules as I do.
From: Rod Welch <email@example.com>
> Good stuff on creativity. Another angle that deserves attention is
> environment to assemble the same information in different patterns of
> This might be an aspect of multiple views that Doug has discussed, but in
> event, new ideas emerge from pattern recognition. Important patterns are
> typically buried in the complexity of daily information that streams by
> sequentially, and so escape notice. Taking a moment to connect related
> enables the mind to grasp patterns of cause and effect. Doing this a lot,
> produces a web of connections that is mind boggling for those who
> the work product, as you have noted; yet, the mechanics of creating
> and assembling chunks of stuff in alternate contexts may aid recognition
> useful patterns, which some authorities call "creativity."
> Eric Armstrong wrote:
> > At last, at last, the concept of "creativity"
> > makes sense. Although still somewhat mysterious,
> > it is an understandable, usable, even "drivable"
> > process.
> > I have to thank Consciousness Explained, by
> > Daniel C. Dennett, for the insights. He relates
> > a marvelous party experiment that goes like
> > this:
> > * You tell someone at a party to step out of
> > the room while the rest of the group hears
> > someone describe a dream. Then, when they
> > come back, they ask questions about the
> > dream and decide who's dream it is.
> > * While they're out, you tell the rest of the
> > group to answer every question based on the
> > last letter of the question. If <=N, answer
> > "yes", otherwise answer "no", with the proviso
> > that all succeeding answers should override
> > this rule in order to remain consistent with
> > previous answers.
> > * The person comes back in, and proceeds to
> > unknowingly "invent" the dream by the process
> > of asking questions. The "dream" therefore
> > reflects *their* preoccupations and concerns.
> > Dennett makes the point that real dreams probably
> > emerge the same way, with images popping up out of
> > the "noise" in our heads, in response to the questions
> > we are asking ourselves -- i.e. the things we are
> > thinking about.
> > For me, the essence of creativity has always been a
> > matter of persistence -- of doggedly asking a question
> > until one day an answer appears -- although it may
> > take years before it happens.
> > I suspect that the process of seeing an answer is
> > mostly, if not entirely, a process of recognizing an
> > analogy. So it was that the double-helix vision of
> > DNA arose in a dream that featured the intertwining
> > snakes of a medical caduceus.
> > That mechanism would account for the frequency of
> > "simultaneous independent discovery", based on
> > environmental factors which cause people to be asking
> > the same questions -- questions that may go unanswered
> > for decades until other developments in the environment
> > provide useful analogies. The similarity of the questions,
> > and the analogies, together account for the occurrence of
> > virtually identical solutions in locations that are
> > widely distant from each other.
> > There were some studies of creativity I read a decade
> > or so ago. They pointed out that creative bursts
> > followed a fairly standard pattern, consisting of
> > immersion in a particular domain, almost to the point
> > of obsession, followed by a quiet period where the
> > person is off doing something else, whereupon a sudden
> > flash of insight illuminates the issue.
> > A friend had an experience like, when he was solving the
> > problem of the "7 golden balls" in high school. The
> > problem is this: You have 7 golden balls, all of which
> > look the same, but one is different. You have a set of
> > balance scales. How can you tell, in 3 weighs, which
> > ball is different, and whether it is heavier or lighter?
> > My friend worked on that problem for weeks. It consumed
> > him. But he never did figure it out. Then he graduated.
> > Two years later, as a helicopter pilot Vietnam, he woke
> > up the solution in his head.
> > Stories like that are fascinating. Equally fascinating
> > is a branch of Yoga I heard about in India, that focus
> > on sleep creativity. You go to sleep with an issue, and
> > wake up with a solution is, I believe, the kind of ability
> > it aims at developing. (Got this from a very recent book
> > that is an authoritative survey of India traditions. I
> > can get the title, if anyone is interested. It's big.)
> > A very similar phenomenon came to by way of a spectacular
> > PBS special, also available in book form, called "Special
> > Friends", I believe. (I can look that up, too.) It was
> > about some of the movers and shakers in the early 20th
> > century, and how they were friends.
> > I recall one fellow in particular who did something
> > spectacular. As an experiment, he tried spending a few
> > quiet moments each morning "opening himself to God" to
> > receive any guidance he could obtain, and act on that
> > guidance.
> > Note that this fellow had *no* particular belief in God.
> > He just tried it out as an experiment. The results were
> > spectacular, and he passed on that notion to some of his
> > friends -- one of whom was Charles Lindbergh, if I recall
> > the sequence of events correctly.
> > Now, this process of "opening for guidance" is a highly
> > effective method for creating a *life*. Basically, after
> > having the night to sleep on things, you spend a few
> > minutes in quiet reflection, creating the calm surface
> > waters in which to see the "answers from above" reflected
> > into your awareness.
> > Of course, the process he described is in other cultures
> > known as meditation. It does not require any particular
> > religious belief, although it is typically accompanied by
> > an opening of the heart and an experience of inner joy
> > that typically can't be accounted for any other way.
> > Of course, even with the process of creativity understood,
> > there is still plenty of room for mystery. How does that
> > analogy process work? How is that simply asking a
> > question repeatedly leads to inspiration? Is it truly
> > random, or is there some divine "source" for the
> > inspirations that result? How is that the internal
> > knowledge structures get reorganized over time to make
> > insights more likely in a given area?
> > There is nothing in the explanation of the process
> > that *precludes* the operation of a divine agency.
> > But regardless, it is fascinating to know that
> > creativity is somewhat mechanical process that can
> > be "worked" very effectively.
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