Search Images

Our imagination is stretched to the utmost, not as in fiction, to imagine things that are not really there, but just to comprehend those things that are there.
-Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law


Yesterday I read that human creativity is at least 25,000 years older than we previously thought. This made me think of one of my favorite fiction books about creativity, The Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean Auel. I don't know that Auel thought that her book was about creativity; rather she was telling an incredible story of survival and emergence of a young Homo sapiens girl being raised by a Neanderthal clan. Her story was rebuked by many scientists and anthropologists and then, with more discovery, Auel's story became quite plausible and many of the ficticious parts in her stories have proven to be fact.

I have heard that 80% of inventions come from the beginner's mind. Someone walks into a situation and asks why something is done the way it is and then makes a suggestion for how it could be significantly improved. Most often that person is ignored or told explicitly why it would not work. Soon, that person becomes a competitor with her better idea.

Kevin Kelly refers to search images. So often we think what we have learned in school or have expertise in, defines our boundaries for what is true or practical. Kelly reminds us that "what we don't look for, we don't see." Our searches stay within familiar boundaries. Yet, if we let ourselves play 'spoze and imagine outside known boundaries ... when we quiet and tame our expertise, there is a high likelihood that there are many discoveries waiting to be found. The nature of our questions change and our search images can become quite interesting.

How old is creativity? I suspect much, much older than Homo sapiens. I think it comes with our planet Earth, maybe our Universe.