Be Flat and Shiny

I learned something new today!

I do feel that a day is better if I learn something new rather than have a belief confirmed. Maybe I shouldn’t say confirmed. Maybe I mean reinforced.

Anyway, I love Charles Darwin. But somehow, in all the stories I’ve listened to about him, I missed the bit about this book–it’s got Darwin and photography. Two favorite things.

Brain Pickings mentions the power of combinational creativity.

my art

I combine my art and my writing. I want to make an animated film. I want to study brain science. So many things.

Too many of my students sit at their desks as if they aren’t interested in anything. Maybe they’re just not interested in anything I teach. They’ll even say they’re not creative, and then do everything in their power to prove it.

Some days I get tired of trying to engage them. Well, a couple of students spark and contribute to life in the classroom–but they end of dominating the classroom. That’s not good either. But in classes where the students stare at me with that look, that look of our-teacher-is-weird…no, wait. I don’t get that look anymore. These days they just get out their phones and gaze into that fascinating, responsive screen.

Maybe if I were flat and shiny.

In what ways does your creativity combine?

And what did you learn today?

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2 responses to “Be Flat and Shiny

  1. I love the whole idea of combinatorial creativity, although it needs a better name. (Brain Pickings often uses the term “remix culture,” and of course there’s the more common term “mashup,” but they feel a little too hipster-ish to use too much. I do use “mashup” every now and then.)

    When I was first working on my book, I read and read and read — and took notes — on King Arthur, the various Grail legends, beer and ale, archery, Wales and the Welsh language, silversmithing and metalworking in general, motor homes, Irish wolfhounds… all the stuff that (for whatever reason) I’d decided to use in my general story.

    It was quite a pile. And once I’d collected it, I wasn’t sure what to do with it.

    This was back in MS-DOS days, and I found a novelty program called “Babble.” Its default setting was to “translate” blocks of English text into various dialects: Elmer Fudd, Pig Latin, Swedish chef, and so on. But it had another mode of operation: feed it a block of text, and it would randomize it. I dumped all my notes into one big text file, and dumped that into Babble. My idea was that if I scanned through the result, I’d find ideas and facts and proper nouns and so on all bumping up against one another in unexpected ways, giving me inspiration about how these elements could be combined into a story.

    I wish I could report that this inspired a whole subplot or the creation of a character or something. Maybe it did, but if so, I don’t remember it. The experiment was interesting, though. I found the Babble printout a little while ago… maybe I’ll post some of it online.

    (And my Friday posts are mashups, I guess.)

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