Thursday, May 10, 2007

Water cooler chat with the geniuses

A few immortals stopped by the shop the other day. Morbidly honored, I listened in.

“Okay, let’s begin with a few ground rules,” Socrates commenced. “We must all ask provocative questions and encourage natural ways of learning, as it is not enough to call for the reproduction of what has been learned.”

“I agree,” Aristotle chimed in, “but it is impossible that anything should be produced if there were nothing existing before.”

“Good point, dear friend,” replied Socrates. “Thinking is a skill that is developed through practice and it is important to ask questions that require the learner to do something with what he learns -- to evaluate it, produce new ideas from it, and recombine it in new ways.”

“But, you can't solve a problem with the same thinking that created the problem,” opined Einstein.

“Aye, aye, Einy, and I would add that the resources with which the artist begins are both necessary and sufficient to account for all that is found in the created product,” Aristotle deduced.

“I have a problem with your “found” assertion,” interjected Picasso. “I seek, I do not find.”

“Yes, but when you do find, you must remember that anyone can make something complicated,” Einstein added. “It takes genius to make it simple.”

“So, if something must exist prior to being produced, and if you need new thinking to solve problems, and if the resources are all here, what’s the simple answer to the complicated problem?” asked Socrates.

Puzzled, Aristotle grabbed my PowerBook and Googled “simple answer to the complicated problem”. Before the screen could refresh, Picasso seized the titanium beauty and dropped it to the ground. “Computers are useless,” he said. “They can only give you answers.”

My visitors filed away, leaving me to ponder the eyebrow-raising conversation in the cloud of my shattered Mac. Takeaways?

  • Creative people ask lots of questions; they are curious.
  • Creators do not accept the normal, established, status quo; they seek.
  • Nothing is truly new. Creators toy and tinker. They simplify. They look beyond the obvious answer to the root of the problem. They combine what exists and what is known in new and useful ways.

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