Monday, May 18, 2009

Perception and Creativity

It’s been said that creativity is not about seeing the world; it’s about seeing the world in a way no one else does. I first heard that saying a long time ago but it had been years since I’d given it much thought. Then it came back to me while I was reading The Lost Notebooks of Loren Eiseley.

Eiseley made his writing career out of just such unique perceptions. Listen: “I would never again make a profession of time.” Or, “…every bone that one holds in one’s hands is a fallen kingdom, a veritable ruined world…” Or: “…man has dragged out of the Ice Age with him and older and lower brain that reemerges in the mists of alcohol or which I have seen snarling on the bed of madness. There are claws in it by now fantastically extended.”

I realized that this issue was what I was tiptoeing around in my posts about needing to “shake-up” my own perceptions. Lately I’ve been seeing the world too much like everyone else. And I’m beginning to realize that it has nothing to do with the material I’m putting “into” my head. I’ve got to alter the way I “combine” the elements that go in.

Too that end I’m going to go back to doing something I used to do when I first started writing. That is, just playing more with language, experimenting more with perceptions as I strive to tear my normal thoughts down and rebuild them askew.

In the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some of these with you folks. Aren’t you lucky? ;)



Mary Witzl said...

In answer to your question, Charles, yes, we ARE lucky!

I'll be back for some of your shake-ups. I need a good long fix of shake-ups myself.

the walking man said...

I agree with Mary...and am looking forward to your experimental use of language and imagery. This could turn out to be an inspiring ride for all of us.

Vesper said...

Very lucky, indeed, Charles. :-)
Your posts are always so inspiring and instructive.
I love the fragments from "The Lost Notebooks of Loren Eiseley".
The "shake-up" you're mentioning is something I often think about for myself. I'm looking forward to getting some help on this from you. :-)

BernardL said...

'Too that end I’m going to go back to doing something I used to do when I first started writing.'

It looks like you started your new perceptions with this sentence of to's. :)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, because I need some shaking up too. Just wrote two stories about getaway men without realizing it.

Gabby said...

I think that's a great thing to do! It reminds me (albeit on a smaller scale) an exercise from a writing class/book I learned a long time ago. It's very rudimentary, and I'm sure everyone's tried it: putting as many random nouns as you can think of in one column and putting as many random adjectives as you can think of in another (you can do with verbs and adverbs) and then making NEW matches to get interesting little phrases and really trying to think outside of the box. I usually suggest that to anyone wanting to write -- not that you need it, mind you, but your thoughts reminded me of it. ^_^ Good luck. I can't wait to see what lovely words come across the screen.

Paul R. McNamee said...

Sounds deceptively simple and yet it is a truism I'd never considered.

Looking forward to your altered perceptions.

Cullen Gallagher said...

I've felt the same way about my writing lately and have been trying to "shake" things up as well. One of the things I'm doing is to try and vary my reading a bit. I read a ton of mysteries, so now I'm doing a sci-fi book, and then I have some Western and film history books that I've been meaning to get to for some time.

Anonymous said...

"Lately I’ve been seeing the world too much like everyone else. And I’m beginning to realize that it has nothing to do with the material I’m putting “into” my head. I’ve got to alter the way I “combine” the elements that go in." - Party! LOL.

"And now, Deep Thoughts by Charles Gramlich..."


writtenwyrdd said...

I do something similar, which is to ask myself "how would you describe this if it were a poem?" And that does for me what you were talking about.

It's easy to fall into a rut in our thinking as well as our writing. The hard part is to notice and do something about it.

Scott D. Parker said...

I'm with you. I've started a whole new steampunk/fantasy thing and I get to build an entire world. Such is the power of a writer and, you know what? It's darn fun!

Looking forward to reading about your mental shake-ups!

Heff said...

Charles, may I suggest any controlled substances to induce creativity ? Lol !

Charles Gramlich said...

Mary, you're very kind. Thankee.

Mark, I've just gotten into a bit of a rut in my writing, I think.

Vesper, I'm really enjoying the "Lost Notebooks." Some lovely writing there.

Bernardl, well, that was just poor writing, not experimental. ;)

Pattinase, they speak so often of "branding" in writing, but I can see that's dangerous in many ways. We get accustomed to writing the same old thing in the same old way.

Gabby, good idea for me to read a few books on writing and try some of the exercizes therein. I hadn't really thought of it but I have just the book on my tbr pile.

Paul R. McNamee, Sometimes things stare us in the face. This particular revelation has been knocking me about for a bit without me realizing it.

Cullen Gallagher, I've started really shaking up my reading a lot. Doing YA and lately some graphic novels. It's helped some I think for sure.

Wil, lol. I didn't promise they'd be deep. Unless they're buried deep in shit, maybe.

writtenwyrdd,I realize that I used to do this sort of routinely, but I got out of the habit because i'd have writing deadlines to meet and would focus everything on that. But the play aspect is important.

Scott Parker, I do so love inventing a world. the closest to God any of us will ever get perhaps.

Charles Gramlich said...

Heff, I used to use alcohol on occassion. It would definitely shake up my perceptions. There are 'other' things I might try.

G. B. Miller said...

Creativity in action?

Or is it creativity inertia?

Either way, it should be interesting.

Thumbelina said...

Well actually, yes I think I am lucky that you share this - I think it will be interesting, challenging and can help us to shake our own perceptions up! Re-evaluate some, reaffirm some... nothing wrong in that!

Cloudia said...

I look forward to your experiments and expect some interesting stuff. I think you are on a good path here, Charles. aloha

Aine said...

I adore creative perspectives because it challenges all of us to see things in new ways. I can't wait to see your retooled thoughts!

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Charles,

I hear you on this one! I get way too attached to seeing things the same way, day in and day out. I urged my students to look at the world in an interesting new way and shake up their language at times, but I often failed to take the advice myself. Trying now to have some fun and not be quite so serious! Looking forward to your shake-ups.

Stewart Sternberg (half of L.P. Styles) said...

If you ever want to be bored and anguished at the same time, there is a book on creativity I can send you. I took a class on creative thinking last semester and was astonished at the lack of academic disciplie and thinking that the instructors and other students manifested. In case you're interested some of the elements of creative thinking are:

1) recognizing patterns
2) visualizing
3) body intelligence (absurd)
4) spatial awareness
5) emotional awareness and or metacognition

I thankfully can't recall the others. Fortunately, I don't have to worry about being creative. I'm not.

Travis Cody said...

Sounds interesting. I'm looking forward to what you come up with.

Anne Vis said...

Interesting post. I also always thought it was a different perspective until I recently found that the actual physical eye of an artist is build differently ...

Charles Gramlich said...

G, entropy perhaps. I'm running down.

Thumbelina, thanks for the kind words. I hope I can do something intersting here and there.

Cloudia, thankee.

Aine, hum, I hope I can live up to expectations.

Michelle, yeah, it's easier to give such advice than it is to take it. Our minds like the ruts we travel every day.

Stewart Sternberg, strangely, I've found that the people who study creativity academically seldom exhibit a lot of it themselves. I've noticed that folks trained in creative writing often, although not always, write relatively little, for example. You're writing certainly shows creativity, dude.

Travis, I'm fiddlign with a piece called Harlequin scarecrow.

Anne Vis, the question is which came first, the different eye or the different perspective?

David Cranmer said...

Be careful of that wacky tobaccy but I am looking forward to the new perceptions.

j said...

When I need a shake-up I change my blog template :) Something tells me your shake up is going to be more interesting.

laughingwolf said...

yupper, look forward to learning more :)

Charles Gramlich said...

David Cranmer, I've heard of that stuff.

jennifer, well, maybe weirder.

Merisi said...

Warning: sensory information processing going on! *boink*

Shauna Roberts said...

In terms of looking at the world from a different perspective than other people, there's a fine line between being creative and being too weird for anybody else to understand. I have a hard time walking that line.

I once signed up for a class with Loren Eiseley in perhaps 1975, but it was cancelled because he was too ill to teach it, and I believe he never taught again. Every time I read an excerpt from something he wrote, I regret again that I never had him for a professor.

Lana Gramlich said...

Very cool, baby. I hope the freedom of Summertime helps. :)

Spy Scribbler said...

I can't find where I read it right now, which is annoying because it was really fascinating, but I once read that the best criminal profilers were in their twenties, because they'd become less conformed and influenced by society, and they saw things less as they expected to see them and more as they were.

cs harris said...

I like this concept. I know I could stand to shake things up, too. But it takes courage, and the opportunity to risk failure.

Charles Gramlich said...

Merisi,lol. Maybe.

Shauna Roberts, wow, that would have been amazing. I would have loved a chance to take a class with him. If he taught at all like he wrote it would have been grand. And yes, I know that line you're talking about. I've crossed it a time or two I think.

Lana Gramlich, it already has sweetness.

spyscribbler, I can believe that, and I think it's an element of why the greatest chess players are often younger as well, and the most inventive scientists.

Candy, well, since I don't have any big contracts on the line I've got the freedom to try and fail.

Merisi said...

I had recently read about Lawrance Marks' research at Yale. ;-)

How has Eiseley come to his unique perceptions? Genius? Practice?

Did you read David Brooks' op-ed piece titled Genius: The Modern View (NYTimes)? I think he simplifies too much, but haven't read either of the two books he is referring to, “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle; and “Talent Is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin.

Charles Gramlich said...

Merisi, I think with Eiseley it was a combination of genes and experience. I haven't read that op-ed piece but I'll have to check it out.