Jonah Lehrer · 279 pages
Rating: (25.8K votes)
“We need to be willing to risk embarrassment, ask silly questions, surround ourselves with people who don't know what we're talking about. We need to leave behind the safety of our expertise.”
“And so we keep on thinking, because the next thought might be the answer.”
“The only way to maximize group creativity—to make the whole more than the sum of its parts—is to encourage a candid discussion of mistakes. In part, this is because the acceptance of error reduces cost. When you believe your flaws will be quickly corrected by the group, you're less worried about perfecting your contribution, which leads to a more candid conversation. We can only get it right when we talk about what we got wrong.”
“...the imagination is unleashed by constraints. You break out of the box by stepping into shackles.”
“There is something scary about letting ourselves go. It means that we will screw up, that we will relinquish the possibility of perfection. It means that we will say things we didn’t mean to say and express feelings we can’t explain. It means that we will be onstage and not have complete control, that we won’t know what we’re going to play until we begin, until the bow is drawn across the strings. While this spontaneous method might be frightening, it’s also an extremely valuable source of creativity…the lesson about letting go is that we contain our own creativity. We are so worried about playing the wrong note or saying the wrong thing that we end up with nothing at all.”
“It doesn't matter if people are playing jazz or writing poetry -- if they want to be successful, they need to learn how to persist and persevere, how to keep on working until the work is done. Woody Allen famously declared that "eighty percent of success is showing up." NOCCA (New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts) teaches kids how to show up again and again.”
“Every creative story is different. And every creative story is the same. There was nothing. Now there is something. It's almost like magic.”
“The great ages did not perhaps produce much more talent than ours,' [T.S.] Eliot wrote. 'But less talent was wasted.”
“Every creative journey begins with a problem. It starts with a feeling of frustration, the dull ache of not being able to find the answer. We have worked hard, but we've hit the wall. We have no idea what to do next.”
“Design is the conscious imposition of meaningful order.”
“...Why are corporations so fleeting?...Instead of imitating the freewheeling city, these businesses minimize the very interactions that lead to new ideas. They erect walls and establish hierarchies. They keep people from relaxing and having insights. They stifle conversations, discourage dissent, and suffocate social networks. Rather than maximizing employee creativity they become obsessed with minor efficiencies.”
“The vocational approach at NOCCA (New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts) helps build grit in students. It teaches them how to be single-minded in pursuit of a goal, to sacrifice for the sake of a passion. The teachers demand hard work from their kids because they know, from personal experience, that creative success requires nothing less.”
“Insights, after all, come from the overlap between seemingly unrelated thoughts. They emerge when concepts are transposed, when the rules of one place are shifted to a new domain.”
“You might solve a problem while drunk, but you probably won´t notice the answer”
“In fact, most of us see perseverance as a distinctly uncreative approach, the sort of strategy that people with mediocre ideas are forced to rely on.”
“The benefit of such horizontal interactions - people sharing knowledge across fields - is that it encourages conceptual blending, which is an extremely important part of the insight process.”
“In fact, the only way to remain creative over time--to not be undone by our expertise--is to experiment with ignorance, to stare at things we don't fully understand.”
“We see them most when we are o nnthe outside looking in”
“Why is a relaxed state of mind so important for creative insights? When our minds are at ease — when those alpha waves are rippling through the brain — we’re more likely to direct the spotlight of attention inward, toward that stream of remote associations emanating from the right hemisphere. In contrast, when we are diligently focused, our attention tends to be directed outward, toward the details of the problems we’re trying to solve. While this pattern of attention is necessary when solving problems an-alytically, it actually prevents us from detecting the connections that lead to insights. “That’s why so many insights happen during warm showers,” Bhattacharya says. “For many people, it’s the most relaxing part of the day.”
“In fact, even fleeting feelings of delight can lead to dramatic increases in creativity. After watching a short, humorous video — Beeman uses a clip of Robin Williams doing standup — subjects have significantly more epiphanies, at least when compared with those who were shown scary or boring videos. Because positive moods allow us to relax, we focus less on the troubling world and more on these remote associations. Another ideal moment for insights, according to Beeman and John Kounios, is the early morning, shortly after waking up. The drowsy brain is unwound and disorganized, open to all sorts of unconventional ideas. The right hemisphere is also unusually active.”
“The advantage of knowing where insights come from is that it can make it easier to generate insights in the first place. When we’re struggling with seemingly impossible problems, it’s important to find time to unwind, to eavesdrop on all those remote associations coming from the right hemisphere. Instead of drinking another cup of coffee, indulge in a little daydreaming. Rather than relentlessly focusing, take a warm shower, or play some Ping-Pong, or walk on the beach.”
“When will you discover that it would be a good idea to memorize your life, even the large part of it that will revolt you?”
“How did you find out?” he asked.
I dropped the coat I’d been holding. “How do you think? She told me. She couldn’t wait to tell me.”
He sighed and sat on the arm of my couch and stared into space.
“That’s it? You have nothing else to say?” I asked.
“I’m sorry. God, I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean for you to find out like this.”
“Were you ever going to tell me?”
His voice was so sweet and so gentle that it momentarily defused the anger that wanted to explode out of me. I stared at him, looking hard into those amber brown eyes. “She said...she said you didn’t drink, but you did, right? That’s what happened?” I sounded like I was Kendall’s age and suspected I wore the pleading expression Yasmine had given Jerome.
Seth’s face stayed expressionless. “No, Thetis. I wasn’t drunk. I didn’t drink at all.”
I sank down into the arm chair opposite him. “Then…then…what happened?”
It took a while for him to get the story out. I could see the two warring halves within him: the one that wanted to be open and the one that hated to tell me things I wouldn’t like. “I was so upset after what happened with us. I was actually on the verge of calling that guy…what’s his name? Niphon. I couldn’t stand it—I wanted to fix things between us. But just before I did, I ran into Maddie. I was so…I don’t know. Just confused. Distraught. She asked me to get food, and before I knew it, I’d accepted.” He raked a hand through his hair, neutral expression turning confused and frustrated. “And being with her…she was just so nice. Sweet. Easy to talk to. And after leaving things off physically with you, I’d been kind of…um…”
“Aroused? Horny? Lust-filled?”
He grimaced. “Something like that. But, I don’t know. There was more to it than just that.”
The tape in my mind rewound. “Did you say you were going to call Niphon?”
“Yeah. We’d talked at poker…and then he called me once. Said if I ever wanted…he could make me a deal. I thought it was crazy at the time, but after I left you that night…I don’t know. It just made me wonder if maybe it was worth it to live the life I wanted and make it so you wouldn’t have to worry so much.”
“Maddie coming along was a blessing then,” I muttered. Christ. Seth had seriously considered selling his soul. I really needed to deal with Niphon. He hadn’t listened to me when I’d told him to leave Seth alone. I wanted to rip the imp’s throat out, but my revenge would have to wait. I took a deep breath.
“Well,” I told Seth. “That’s that. I can’t say I like it…but, well…it’s over.”
He tilted his head curiously. “What do you mean?”
“This. This Maddie thing. You finally had a fling. We’ve always agreed you could, right? I mean, it’s not fair for me to be the only one who gets some. Now we can move on.”
A long silence fell. Aubrey jumped up beside me and rubbed her head against my arm. I ran a hand over her soft fur while I waited for Seth’s response.
“Georgina,” he said at last. “You know…I’ve told you…well. I don’t really have flings.”
My hand froze on Aubrey’s back. “What are you saying?”
“I…don’t have flings.”
“Are you saying you want to start something with her?”
He looked miserable. “I don’t know.”
“Then you shouldn't have thrown her away when she was your wife. Now she ain't. Now she's somethin' to me and I don't let men I don't like get close to her and I gotta tell you man, I do not like you.”
“So it will go,” Merriman said. “He will have a sweet picture of the Dark to attract him, as men so often do, and beside it he will set all the demands of the Light, which are heavy and always will be.”
“It was around then that the phone rang. It was my friend Cee Cee, wanting to know if I cared to join her and Adam McTavish at the Coffee Clutch to drink iced tea and talk bad about everyone we know.”
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