I'm in the throes of reading Creativity is Forever by Gary A Davis, a text book on creativity with a wicked sense of humor and a penchant for tables and charts. And, oh, I do love tables and charts. But, more important than Davis's deliciously chart-y and table-y presentations of ideas are the actual ideas in themselves. Creativity, in all honesty, is quite a complex subject and rather an elusive beast to study (e.g. it's the veritable Bigfoot of the psychological world). Davis, however, does a very nice job of rounding up and laying out most of the information we have about creativity to date (at least up until 2004, that is). The sheer amount of information on the subject is brain scrambling. After reading a few hundred definitions of the word “creativity,” one's mind begins to reel in true “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose,” Gertrude Steinian fashion. “Oh!” one cries mentally, “Things just are what they are! Creativity just is what it is. Stop trying to define it!”
But, of course, this can't be an acceptable answer. At least not to those committed to writing books (or blogs) on the subject. Because despite just being a rose, the flower can still be dissected into its parts. What makes it a rose? The petals? The thorns? The aroma? Hmmm...
In Chapter Three, Davis captures one, shining facet on the polyhedral definition of creativity by postulating that creativity is, simply put, the combination of ideas. He notes that many creative inventions can be easily broken down into their original parts (the Snuggie comes to mind). And, of course, many highly respected (and not-so-highly respected) creative accomplishments are, at their root, a simple combination of ideas. T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, for example, was the result of an ingenious cultural and linguistic scavenger hunt. Similarly, the contemporary bestselling Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is quite obviously nothing more than a juxtaposition of two seemingly unrelated concepts.
Right. Maybe this guy is on to something.
So, today, let's get to combining some quality ideas! No matter your mode of creativity, try to brainstorm many, varied, and unusual combinations of ideas to use in your practice. Make a list. Write them down. Whip them all up into stiff peaks!
What are the strangest combinations you can come up with?The funniest images? The most seemingly discordant phrases? I bet they're all brilliant.
Bonus: Another prime example of Creativity As Combination of Ideas. Need proof of these guys' social capital? Take a look at Rolling Stone Magazine.