Tag Archives | Creativity

David Foster Wallace on Ambition

“If your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything.” – David Foster Wallace

Interview by Leonard Lopate, WNYC: March 4, 1996

David Foster Wallace: You know, the whole thing about perfectionism. The perfectionism is very dangerous, because of course if your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything. Because doing anything results in— It’s actually kind of tragic because it means you sacrifice how gorgeous and perfect it is in your head for what it really is. And there were a couple of years where I really struggled with that.

David Foster Wallace: I played serious tennis when I was a child. I played it enough to start to feel like it was beautiful.

Leonard Lopate: You were 17th in the United States Tennis Association Western Section when you were 14 years old…

David Foster Wallace: That sounds very impressive. That’s a regional ranking and it means that I was probably 4,000th in the nation for my age group.… Read the rest

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How do you learn to think?

Ian Sane (CC BY 2.0)

Ian Sane (CC BY 2.0)

This was taken from William Deresiewicz’s 2010 lecture “Solitude and Leadership.”

If you want others to follow, learn to be alone with your thoughts.

Let’s start with how you don’t learn to think. A study by a team of researchers at Stanford came out a couple of months ago. The investigators wanted to figure out how today’s college students were able to multitask so much more effectively than adults. How do they manage to do it, the researchers asked? The answer, they discovered—and this is by no means what they expected—is that they don’t. The enhanced cognitive abilities the investigators expected to find, the mental faculties that enable people to multitask effectively, were simply not there. In other words, people do not multitask effectively. And here’s the really surprising finding: the more people multitask, the worse they are, not just at other mental abilities, but at multitasking itself.

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Is there a Self in Selfies?

Agnes Martin's Gabriel Still

What is the significance of taking a selfie? Philosopher Alexander García Düttmann explores the potential of the selfie as both a feature of the culture industry and as a creative act in the work of Walt Whitman and Agnes Martin.

Alexander García Düttmann at Four by Three Magazine:

The answer is probably: no, it is unlikely that there is a self in selfies. As one gives this answer, well aware that perhaps no one cares for the kind of self one is denying to the image called selfie, a faint echo makes itself heard, the echo of an aphorism Adorno coined in the 1940s. It reads: “In many people it is already an impertinence to say ‘I’.”[1]

But does it matter? Must one appeal to some deeper, or more authentic, sense of selfhood, to an I that escapes the selfie’s eye, and ridicule an expression that refers more to an act than to an entity, to the act of stretching out one’s arms, of using a prosthesis with a small and handy camera attached to its extremity and of catching a digital glimpse of oneself, a glimpse contained in, and forming on the surface of, the artifact’s screen, an image immediately available to viewing?… Read the rest

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Don’t Overthink It, Less Is More When It Comes to Creativity


Amber Case (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Just in case you’re in a bit of a creative rut, Jessica Schmerier at Scientific American has some news on how to get the juices flowing: don’t force it. (Though, I can’t decide if this just makes things more difficult.) The new study calls into question the traditional “right-brained,” “left-brained” dynamic.

There is a scientific belief that the cerebral cortex is the part of the brain that “makes us human,” and that the two hemispheres of the cortex differentiate the creative thinkers from the logical thinkers (the “right-brained” from the “left-brained”). This has fostered the view that “neurological processes can be divided into “higher” cognitive functions and “lower” basic sensory-motor, functions,” says Robert Barton, an evolutionary biologist at Durham University in England who was not involved in this study—but the latest research calls that understanding into question.

Participants in the study were placed into a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine with a nonmagnetic tablet and asked to draw a series of pictures based on action words (for example, vote, exhaust, salute) with 30 seconds for each word.

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Summer Sessions: Short-Term Residences For Artists

Thought I’d share this for all you budding artists out there.

via Summer Sessions:

The Summer Sessions are short-term residencies for young artists organized by a network of cultural organizations all over the world.

The Summer Sessions offer a highly productive atmosphere with production support and expert feedback to jumpstart your professional art practice. The result is a pressure cooker in which you develop a project, from concept to presentable work, ready to show.

Are you an ambitious, early career artist, full of ideas and ready to realize your project this summer? Then apply by submitting a video, in which you briefly explain your project, the support you need and why you should be a part of the Summer Sessions.

Apply here.

h/t Creative Applications

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Writing My Way to a New Self

Fredrik Rubensson (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Fredrik Rubensson (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Hana Schank on writing and introversion via Opinionator:

So the head counselor had been surprised to discover upon my arrival in New Hampshire that I was still the same mildly morose, shy and apathetic person she’d known me to be as a camper. I still didn’t cheer appropriately at soccer games. I still felt like an impostor when singing the camp songs. Camp spirit was still a mortifying concept for me.

“What happened to that girl who wrote the letter?” she asked.

She’s in here, I wanted to respond. But she only comes out when I’m writing. You thought you were hiring Writing Me. But instead what you got was Actual Me. Big mistake.

For many years after, I assumed all writers were like me, with a secret extroverted, passionate alter ego trapped inside an introverted person who kept to the corners of rooms.

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This Video Will Blow Your Mind, Change the World, and Cure Cancer

Can we learn to stretch our perceptions of the possible? Can we create understanding with people who believe things different from us? Can we subvert our tribalistic tendencies and empathize with each other?

Is the information age fundamentally different than previous eras because of our unprecedented access to ideology?

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The Liminal Spaces Part 2: Hidden Architecture


Or “how to write while you sleep.”

Part 1: Get Creative: The Liminal State

Most people understand writing as a function of the conscious mind. You have an intention, you sit down and express it best you can.

However, the actual writing process is far more convoluted than that, and there are many “off-label” uses for the lesser understood parts of consciousness, where writing is involved. Nowhere is this more true than with the long-form creative process, which is more like a marathon than a sprint, and more like a surrealist “drift” than even a marathon.

Indeed, many of these byways, alleys and side-paths lead us through a meandering labyrinth, and we may even care to engage the physical process of one foot before the other.

Ambiguity is the labyrinth’s central nature. It is always unstable, changing its personality and ours as we change perspective. … Like a psychic nuclear reactor, the labyrinth generates creative emotional and psychic processes in whatever guise it appears.

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The Creative Gifts of ADHD

 Duncan Hull (CC BY 2.0)

Duncan Hull (CC BY 2.0)

via Scientific American:

“Just because a diagnosis [of ADHD] can be made does not take away from the great traits we love about Calvin and his imaginary tiger friend, Hobbes. In fact, we actually love Calvin BECAUSE of his ADHD traits. Calvin’s imagination, creativity, energy, lack of attention, and view of the world are the gifts that Mr. Watterson gave to this character.” — The Dragonfly Forest

In his 2004 book “Creativity is Forever“, Gary Davis reviewed the creativity literature from 1961 to 2003 and identified 22 reoccurring personality traits of creative people. This included 16 “positive” traits (e.g., independent, risk-taking, high energy, curiosity, humor, artistic, emotional) and 6 “negative” traits (e.g., impulsive, hyperactive, argumentative). In her own review of the creativity literature, Bonnie Cramond found that many of these same traits overlap to a substantial degree with behavioral descriptions of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)– including higher levels of spontaneous idea generation, mind wandering, daydreaming, sensation seeking, energy, and impulsivity.

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