About Creativity and Albert Einstein
March 11, 2011
I was watching Jon Stewart recently when his guest was astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. Its a remarkably cool building on the West Side–if you haven’t seen it, put it on your list. And it’s not all that far from Zabars….the makings of a fun day in NYC. Tyson is smart, interesting and funny, all great qualities in a person, he’s one of those people I’d love to have a conversation with. The thing that struck me was when he quoted Albert Einstein about creativity: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Hmmm. Still, the more I’ve considered it, the more I’ve come to agree with it, adding only that knowledge increases the potential of the imagination.
Now I’ll admit that from my artist’s vantage point, I think that its in the arts where creativity resides. There is scholarly work that reports that kids who get to play in areas of the fine arts are more creative thinkers in adulthood (please keep the arts in the schools!). So while at first the idea that Einstein would be talking about creativity was a little wacky, it actually makes total sense. Every endeavor to create or define something is a creative process. His theories of the universe came out of incredibly imaginative thought processes, magical journeys down new paths of thought.
All of this got me thinking of who else might have said interesting things about the subject. So I’m looking for who might have expounded on creativity and the creative process, and I’ll post the ones that I really like here. If you find one you like, would you please send it to me? (Use the comment button below, and if you wish I’ll be happy to keep confidentiality, just tell me in your comment, since all comments are manually approved in order to be published).
Getting back to Albert Einstein, though, makes me think of my dad. Dad was a tremendously bright and curious man, interested in all sorts of things in the world and in the people he met. He was one of those people who could figure out all sorts of things, from fixing a bike to fearlessly navigating a British camper with right hand drive and marginal visibility only via the side and rear view mirrors through Northern Europe. His all-time conquest? I think maybe it was driving that camper at speed up the Champs Elysee and around the Arc d’ Triomphe during rush hour. Teeth-grittingly exhilirating, one of those times when you’re watching through fingers over your eyes. He was completely rapt in the moment, concentrating. When Dad was concentrating on something, as he’d go into his figuring-things-out zone his tongue would appear and curl up, covering his upper lip. I crack up when I find myself doing the same thing when I’m puzzling something out, or when my sisters, my brother, and my niece and nephews do it. I especially love seeing the kids doing it while they’re working something out in their heads, Dad lives in them.
When I got old enough that ‘how come’ questions were long past being cute, when I or my sisters or brother would ask Dad a question about how something worked, he’d reply, “When you take physics you’ll understand that”. Thanks, Dad. I’ll go Google it. And so of course there’s Albert Einstein, involved in discussions about creativity. I wonder if his tongue lapped over his upper lip when he was pondering the universe?
More art next posting.