Cover of book Uncommon Genius: How Great Ideas are born

Uncommon Genius: How Great Ideas are born

by: Denise Shekerjian

Check out the book on Amazon | your public library.
45 Highlights | 40 Notes
  • In fact, the purpose of the award is more than that: it is to promote those leaps of creative thinking that may occur when gifted people are left to their own devices.
    Note: creativity, why award
  • I wanted to learn all I could about the creative impulse. Where does i come from? How does it work? Why are some people more creative than others? Can it be encouraged?
  • Creativity is the ability to look sideways at problems. A creative person is one who enjoys, above all else, the company of his own mind.
  • There's the problem of trying to get him to elucidate what he thinks, indeed knows, is incredibly self-evident.
    Note: communcation challenges
  • A fixed idea should never prevent you from listening to something with fresh ears; it's too easy to miss a lot that way.
    Note: How to listen, used in post
  • Some of what I discovered I expected: they were all driven, remarkably resilient, adept at creating an environment that suited their needs, skilled at honoring their own peculiar talents instead of lusting after an illusion of self, capable of knowing when to follow their instincts, and above all, magnificent risk takers, unafraid to run ahead of the great popular tide.
    But some of what I learned was a complete surprise, like the discoveries about cultivating a widely flung mission, trying to encourage luck, and allowing for the tastes of the culture. And in certain circumstances, it's better to loosen up, throw away the instruction manuals, and get your hands dirty.
    Note: How to be more creative
  • The effect, on the whole, would be pleasing and coherent from a distance, but perishable and incomprehensible close up or if taken apart piece by piece. That, it seems to me, is the nature of creativity.
    Note: Creativity, painting
  • But I do firmly believe that if we cultivate a consciousness about the way we think and work and behave, improvement in our creative abilities is possible-- and improvement is not something to be taken lightly.
    Note: How to be more creative
  • … a conscious application of talent, far more than luck or accident, is at the core of every creative moment.
    Note: creativity
  • Everyone has an aptitude for something. The trick is to recognize it, to honor it, to work with it. This is where creativity starts.
  • He wrote a cantata every week. Some weeks he was tired. Some weeks he was sick. But every week he wrote a cantata. Sometimes he didn't have much time so he copied stuff he wrote before. And they're not all as good as the others, but the point is this: he put it out.
    Note: Dr. Stephen Jay Gould about Bach, schedule, putting it out, #eq, used in post
  • Marrying the humanist's perspective to the rigors of science, he exemplifies a return to the tradition of the philosopher-scientist, a tradition that begins with the dialogues of Galileo.
  • In his (Arthur Koestler's) often quoted essay “The Three domains of Creativity” he noted the similarity between various kinds of creative expression: artistic originality giving rise to the ah! reaction, scientific discovery leading to the aha! reaction, and comic inspiration resulting in the haha! reaction.
  • He talked about all the projects he had brewing which are related to this one and how one project sustains or gives insight into another.
    This interrelationship of projects seems to be typical of creative activity.
    Note: interrelationship of everything
  • The challenge of an unexplained mystery, the drive to be the first, the lust for power or respect or love, a religious or political belief, a deep and abiding social consciousness -- any of these things could serve as a catalyst for defining one's primary lifelong focus. It almost doesn't matter what impetus is as long as the context one chooses gives wings to one's particular talent. Even accident can be a sufficient catalyst to launch a long involvement in a given field.
    Note: why work on projects
  • One theme with endless variations, like life itself.
    Note: photographer Alfred Steiglitz, #eq, used in post
  • Do you remember that age in adolescence where you didn't believe you could ever die or that any harm would come to you so you took all kinds of risks? In a certain sense you couldn't really call adolescents courageous because they really don't believe any harm could follow. I'm like that in a way; call it foolishness, or not knowing anything better.
    Note: Debbie Meier, immortality of youth, fearlessness, #eq
  • Instead a quiet humility and a sense of gratitude prevailed. The courage to create, it seemed, often came not from looking within but from looking outside themselves, from relying on something perceived as distinctly larger than their own tiny vulnerable beings.
    Note: courage
  • And I tell other people about living right. I teach workshops. I have no secrets. If I can make it easier for someone than it was for me, I'm happy to do it. I share everything I know
    Note: Sam Maloof quote, sharing, #eq
  • Creative people, by contrast, seem to have a greater tolerance for the ambiguous circumstances that begin most projects and are more accepting, even welcoming, of this unstructured time. They aren't lusting after quick outcomes or definitive bottom lines. They are more willing to entertain a prolonged period of leisurely drifting about, curious to see where the unpredictable currents will take them. From this lightness of spirit comes the fruits of imagination; there will be plenty of time for the sweat of exertion later on.
    Note: staying loose, rambling, unproductiveness, wandering
  • … Synectics seminars bring alive the notion of idea generation through connected irrelevance.
    Note: beautiful language
  • But apart from the sheer fluency of ideas, there is another reason to embrace a period of rambling discovery — the possibility of being exposed to influences that at first appear to be completely unrelated to the work at hand. What blocks a creative solution to a problem is often an overly narrow and single-minded concentration from a single frame of reference. The person who can combine frames of reference and draw connections between ostensibly unrelated points of view is likely to be the one who makes the creative breakthrough.
    Note: creativity, different influence
  • Paying attention to the conditions likely to enhance one's creative impulse is something that each person in history has to sort out for him- or herself. Throughout history the conditions have been as diverse as the creators
    Note: conditions for creativity, question to ask oneself
  • If you're paying attention, there are buoyant, cheerful accidents in life and strange twists of plot to help you on your way.
    Note: universe helps
  • Furthermore, given enough time - and if you're paying close enough attention - you begin to notice a certain symmetry to the syncopation of chance. The irregularities of chance are pliant; they fit themselves to your needs or you make them fit. Either way, these vague encounters are woven into one's efforts to arrange the proper conditions for creative work.
    Note: universe helps
  • The public is likely to appreciate something creative that stirs up, even cracks apart, the status quo only when they recognize some tiny part of the new work, it will be deemed Good and will stand as a creative new contribution to the culture.
    Note: psychology of crowds
  • You can't do creative work unless you know - intellectually, or spiritually, or instinctively - what you're talking about.
    Note: knowing youself, art, wor
  • When he got restless he didn't allow himself to get up and go do something - run an errand, raid the refrigerator, read the newspaper, buy a Coke. He sat and he concentrated.
    Note: about Robert Irwin, Do something, procrastination
  • Varnedoe was thirty-eight at the time, a perfect age, really, when a man is mature enough to know himself yet young enough to do something about it.
    Note: about J. Kirk T. Varnedoe, best age, Age 38
  • I'm increasingly impressed with the kind of innovation and knowledge that doesn't come from preplanned effort, or from working toward a fixed goal, but from a kind of concentration on what one is doing. That seems very, very important to me. It's the actual process, the functioning, the going ahead with it.
    Note: J. Kirk T. Varnedoe, the process, the way not the goal
  • It's something my wife always stresses about what innovation consists of. A lot of it involves paying attention to what you're doing rather than aiming so fixedly toward some sort of goal that you don't pay attention to what's going on as you're trying to get there. It's in the process of working and by watching yourself work that innovation comes.
    Note: J. Kirk T. Varnedoe, the process, the way not the goal
  • It's the idea of doing without a fixed purpose, doing with a sense of exploration that everybody else thinks is inert, dull, traditional, gone, forgotten, not worth thinking about. It's the reformulation, the mileage that can be gotten out of changing where that part fits in the scheme.
    Note: J. Kirk T. Varnedoe, exploration
  • Stated simply, it is that creative efforts are neither glib nor ignorant, but rather stem from a solid base of knowledge, and furthermore, though the traditional way to accumulate knowledge is to pursue a university curriculum or to fetter oneself to a rigorous program of stylized, meditated, preordained intellectual endeavor, there is another powerful source for the valuable stuff of knowledge, which is simply to roll up one's sleeves, jump into the work, and do.
    Note: just do it
  • The act of doing is an act of faith. If the creator is capable of the seriousness of this commitment and approaches it with an unclouded mind he may be rewarded with the store of knowledge that will enrich every one of his creative urges.
    Note: just do it, what you get by just doing it
    1. Find your talent.
    2. Commit to it and make it shine.
    3. Don't be afraid of risk. Or even of failure, which if seen in its proper light, brings insight and opportunity.
    4. Find the courage by looking to something stronger and better than your puny vulnerable self.
    5. No lusting after quick resolutions. Relax. Stay loose.
    6. Get to know yourself; understand your needs and the specific conditions you favor.
    7. Respect too, your culture. We can't, any of us, escape the twentieth century. It's tucked up around our collective chin as snugly and as firmly as the bedsheet.
    8. Then, finally, break free from the seductive pull of book learning and research and the million other preparatory steps that could delay for the entire span of life and immerse yourself in the doing.
    Note: summary
  • “It's that old idea”, the poet John Ashbery notes, “of each of us having only one or two ideas in life and spending our years expressing them, and expressing them, and expressing them.”
    Note: expressing forever, Alfred Steiglitz, infinte variations
  • Instead of concentrating on picking up the pieces of our yesteryears, it allows a concept of tomorrow to shape the decisions we make today. There is no sense of inevitability. In fact, often this sort of reasoning holds at its core an image of something desirable but considered wildly impractical, audaciously speculative, or flatly unattainable.
    Note: forward thinking
  • Where creativity is concerned, that is the irony of skill: the more adept you are at something, the less likely you are to appreciate a varying interpretation; the greater your mastery of the skills and routines associated with a particular discipline, the less you will be tempted to generate new approaches.
    Creativity, no matter which of its many definitions you favor, requires something new, a different interpretation, a break from the twin opiates of habit and cliché.
    Note: Irony of creativity, beautiful phrase - twin opiates
  • This is where a change of perspective figures into the creative process. A shift in perspective is a break with habit, a departure from cliché, a deviation from convention.
    Note: what is a shift in perspective
  • These four exercises - the mechanical quiz of hypotheticals, the experiments with sight, the construction of metaphors, and the wide application of visualization, which can range from improving a basketball score to improving peace of mind - all share a common objective: expanding your creative potential by changing your perspective.
    Note: perspective shift exercises
  • Adrift in the undefined vastness of the world, intent on quiet pondering of the great human tumult, he wouldn't have it any other way.
    Note: beautiful language
  • But by its very nature, creative thinking requires a break from habit that is, really, a kind of wooden thoughtlessness. Travel is one way, and apparently a common way, that creative people make the familiar strange again. Trying to get around in a strange culture, to feed yourself, to make sense of the news, to buy toothpaste, to manage a local bus, to express discontent, to profess love, to operate a vending machine or a telephone - all are familiar gestures made highly peculiar again, as they were when you were a child. In addition to all the personal and professional reasons to venture forth, leaving home is a way of retaining a kind of plasticity of response that keeps the eye unveiled, the mind sharp.
    Note: travel, vagabonding
  • She is really great, quite amazing. I mean, she just ups and decides that it's time to live in Paris, where I was before going to Harvard, or Japan, which she did for four years. Now she's in Vienna. And she called and said, “Well, let's go to Egypt for Christmas,” which is what my sister and I did. It's not that my family has any money, it's just that my mother decides it's time to do this. So we do it.
    Note: chill travel, personal learning
  • It's a principle that calls to mind the cry of the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke: &“Whoever you are, go out into the evening, leaving your room of which you know every bit; your house is the last before the infinite, whoever you are.”
    Note: #eq
  • If there is a key to my progression, I think it is in the fact that I never accepted any sort of constraint but immediately moved out beyond it. For me ‘can't’ simply isn't acceptable, and I urge my students to get it out of their vocabulary. I want them to kick against any boundaries that are set up and to figure out how they can shift resources to move beyond them. It takes imagination and hard work because, as far as I'm concerned, there have been no good solutions to problems that haven't demanded a lot of hard work.
    Note: said by shirley Brice Heath, hard work
  • Book References from Uncommon Genius: How Great Ideas are born