How creativity works – associative vs. bisociative thought, or habit vs. originality
The pattern underlying [the creative act] is the perceiving of a situation or idea, L, in two self-consistent but habitually incompatible frames of reference, M1 and M2. The event L, in which the two intersect, is made to vibrate simultaneously on two different wavelengths, as it were. While this unusual situation lasts, L is not merely linked to one associative context, but bisociated with two.
I have coined the term ‘bisociation’ in order to make a distinction between the routine skills of thinking on a single ‘plane,’ as it were, and the creative act, which … always operates on more than one plane. The former can be called single-minded, the latter double-minded, transitory state of unstable equilibrium where the balance of both emotion and thought is disturbed.
Arthur Koestler’s seminal theory of “bisociation” explaining how creativity in humor, art, and science works.
The New Yorker’s Bob Mankoff at a recent TED salon. When Mankoff quit psychology school to become a cartoonist, he submitted 2,000 cartoons to the New Yorker that year. Of them, 2,000 were rejected. In 1997, he became the magazine’s cartoon editor.
Pair with the fantastic Fail Safe and Ray Bradbury’s advice on perseverance in the face of rejection.
Fail Safe – beautiful illustrated essay on uncertainty, bravery, and the creative life.
If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now. Not 20 years from now, not two weeks from now. Now.
Debbie Millman’s timeless advice on courage and the creative life, in a wonderful illustrated essay.
Every once in a while — often when we least expect it — we encounter someone more courageous, someone who choose to strive for that which (to us) seemed unrealistically unattainable, even elusive. And we marvel. We swoon. We gape. Often , we are in awe. I think we look at these people as lucky, when in fact, luck has nothing to do with it. It is really about the strength of their imagination; it is about how they constructed the possibilities for their Life. In short, unlike me, they didn’t determine what was impossible before it was even possible.
When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician — make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor — make good art. IRS on your trail — make good art. Cat exploded — make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before — make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best: Make good art. Make it on the bad days, make it on the good days, too.
Make Good Art – Neil Gaiman’s timeless advice on the creative life, adapted by design legend Chip Kidd.
Don’t tell us that it’s impossible and that there is no budget for glitter. Give us a wheel to reinvent. … We are more than the sum of our parts. We get presidents elected.
Pair with 5 manifestos for the creative life.
Maya Angelou, reconstructionst.
Also see Steven Johnson on where good ideas come from.