“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal." -Henry Ford
THE CONDITIONS FOR FLOW IN CREATIVITY
Creativity involves the production of novelty. The process of discovery involved in creating something new appears to be one of the most enjoyable activities any human can be involved in. In fact, it easy to recognize the conditions of flow in the accounts of creative individuals, as they describe how it feels to do the sort of things they do.
The Clarity of goals:
In certain conditions, the creative process begins with the goal of solving a problem that is given to the person by someone else or is suggested by the state of the art in the domain. Moreover, anything that does not work as well as it could can provide a clear goal to the inventor.
Or the goal may emerge as a problem in the domain as a gap in the network of knowledge, a contradiction among the findings, a puzzling result. Here the goal is to restore harmony in the system by reconciling the apparent disparities.
For artists the goal of the activity is not so easily found. In fact, the more creative the problem, the less clear it is what needs to be done. Discovered problems, the ones that generate the greatest changes in the domain, are also the most difficult to enjoy working on because of their elusiveness. In such cases, the creative person somehow must develop an unconscious mechanism that tells him or her what to do. The poet Gyorgy Faludy usually does not start writing until a "voice" tells him, often in the middle of the night, "Gyorgy, it's time to start writing." He adds ruefully: "That voice has my number, but I don’t have his. The ancients called that voice the Muse.
Sometimes the goal presents itself as a vision, a mysterious call that one feels impelled to follow. Very often this is how the Muse communicates-through a glass darkly, as it were. It is a splendid arrangement, for if the artist were not tricked by the mystery, he or she might never venture into the unexplored territory.
Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention
“Beauty is a form of genius - is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is one of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon.” -Oscar Wilde
Sparks of creativity often flow from new knowledge. Frequently it's information about things that are completely new to you. Sometimes, it's new facts about familiar things. And sometimes it's information about things that you didn't know you didn't know. This last category, usually filled with items that are silly and fanciful, can provide a platform for your imagination to jump from.
So here I present the: "Things you didn't know you didn't know" section (or the alternately titled: "Trivia to win bar bets" section).
Why Does the Moon Appear Bigger at the Horizon Than Up in the Sky?
This Imponderable has been floating around the cosmos for eons and has long been discussed by astronomers, who call it the moon illusion. Not only the moon but the sun appears much larger at the horizon than up in the sky. And constellations, as they ascend in the sky, appear smaller and smaller. Obviously, none of these bodies actually changes size or shape, so why do
they seem to grow and shrink?
Although there is not total unanimity on the subject, astronomers, for the most part, are satisfied that three explanations answer this Imponderable. In descending order of importance, they are:
1. As Alan MacRobert of Sky & Telescope magazine states it, "The sky itself appears more distant near the horizon than high overhead." In his recent article in Astronomy magazine, "Learning the Sky by Degrees," Jim Loudon explains, "Apparently, we perceive the sky not as half a sphere but as half an oblate [flattened at the poles] spheroid-in other words, the sky overhead seems closer to the observer than the horizon. A celestial object that is perceived as 'projected' onto this distorted sky bowl seems bigger at the horizon." Why? Because the object appears to occupy just as much space at the seemingly faraway horizon as it does in the supposedly closer sky.
2. When reference points are available in the foreground, distant objects appear bigger. If you see the moon rising through the trees, the moon will appear immense, because your brain is unconsciously comparing the size of the object in the foreground (the tree limbs) with the moon in the background. When you see the moon up in the sky, it is set against tiny stars in the background.
Artists often play with distorting perception by moving peripheral objects closer to the foreground. Peter Boyce, of the American Astronomical Society, adds that reference points tend to distort perception most when they are close to us and when the size of the reference points is well known to the observer. We know how large a tree limb is, but our mind plays tricks on us when we try to determine the size of heavenly objects. Loudon states that eleven full moons would fit between the pointer stairs of the Big Dipper, a fact we could never determine with the naked eyes alone.
3. The moon illusion may be partially explained by the refraction of our atmosphere magnifying the image. But even the astronomers who mentioned the refraction theory indicated that it could explain only some of the distortion.
A few skeptics, no doubt the same folks who insist that the world is flat and that no astronaut has ever really landed on the moon, believe that the moon really is larger at the horizon than when up in the sky. If you want to squelch these skeptics, here are a few counterarguments that the astronomers suggested.
1. Take photos of the moon or sun at the horizon and up in the sky. The bodies will appear to be the same size.
2. "Cover" the moon with a fingertip. Unless your nails grow at an alarming rate, you should be able to cover the moon just as easily whether it is high or low.
3. Best of all, if you want proof of how easy it is to skew your perception of size, bend over and look at the moon upside down through your legs. When we are faced with a new vantage point, all reference points and size comparisons are upset, and we realize how much we rely upon experience, rather than our sensory organs, to judge distances and size. We do, however, suggest that this physically challenging and potentially embarrassing scientific procedure be done in wide-open spaces and with the supervision of a parent or guardian. Imponderables cannot be held responsible for the physical or emotional well-being of those in search of astronomical truths.
Why do clocks run clockwise and other imponderables? - An Imponderable Book