"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Watching a pendulum swing from one end of the spectrum to the other, what questions come to your mind?

Draw a graphic of your thoughts (on a sheet of paper).

Here are two possibilities:

- How loose can you stay before falling apart?

- Conversely, how tight can you remain before freezing up?

The true nature of the creative process requires a balance between uniqueness and relevance.

Both ingredients must be present for creative productivity.

This ‘delicate balance’ concept is dramatically presented in an illustrated book entitled 'The Dot and the Line' (1963). The synopsis below, by Parnes & Noller (1973) should make you question yourself:

"Am I a rigid line, a chaotic squiggle, or have I discovered my dynamic balance between the two extremes?”

Essentially the book portrays the trials and tribulations of a straight, rigid line as ‘he’ attempts to become more free and open, more uninhibited and spontaneous, in order to win the love of a dot.
We have found that the story has deep meaning for those interested in the study of the creative process and the creative person.

The line in the story learns to bend and twist into all forms of complex and versatile shapes and structures, including complex ellipses, tetragrams, and so on. He breaks the rigidity in his being ~ in his structure ~ into dazzling and profound displays of form that have not only uniqueness but also relevance and meaning.

This, of course, is the true nature of the creative process ~ creating new relationships that are not only unique but relevant and meaningful.

The line’s rival in the little parable is an unruly, wild squiggle (scribble), who is undisciplined, unconventional, uninhibited.

In Juster’s story, the squiggle loses out in his competition with the line after the line has learned to merge his innate freedom and spontaneity with his learned self-discipline and responsibility so as to produce ‘channelled freedom.’ The squiggle does not know how to direct and channel his freedom, and goes on being only a wild, unkempt bit of anarchy.

As the line in the story learned to free his channels, so could the squiggle have learned to channel his freedom. This then becomes the ‘delicate balance’ in creative behaviour ~ freeing channels / channelling freedom, a much needed balance that does not remain static, but one that oscillates constantly so as to allow for the myriad different challenges we face daily.

[Excerpted from the 'Ideas on Ideas' edition of The Braindancer Series of bookazines by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Say Keng's personal comments:

The way I interpret this beautiful essay by Dilip Mukerjea is this:

The most productive environments for creative thinking, as well as for learning pursuits, synergise and integrate the best of the traditional and progressive approaches:

- Logic and Imagination;

- Discipline and Fun;

- Science and Art;

- Seriousness and Play;

- 'Inside the Box' (working within boundaries) and 'Outside the Box' (playing with boundaries);

In doing so, we naturally become more productive in idea generation and solution finding, as well as knowledge acquisition.

As a matter of fact, creativity consultant Dr William Miller once put it very eloquently, in his classic, 'The Creative Edge':

"Creativity and productivity are closely linked, both by definition and in human motivation. When we are most creative and expressive selves, we are also most productive."

To me, and in some ways, it's also akin to the Chinese two-word description of a crisis situation, where one can actually leverage on the two extremes, 'danger' on one end and 'opportunity' on the opposite end.

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