From Where Do Ideas & Creativity Come?*

Einstein’s ‘Optical Delusion’

Einstein remarked, “A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest–a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.”

While in the conservative view human communication and interaction is [sic] limited to our sensory channels,..leading psychologists, psychiatrists and consciousness researchers are rediscovering what Einstein realized and ancient cultures have always known: that we are linked by more subtle and encompassing connections as well. In current scientific literature these connections are called transpersonal. [ Ervin Laszlo]


“Whence my ideas come, I know not, nor can I force them…”

“My subject enlarges itself, becomes methodized and defined, and the whole, though it be long, stands almost complete and finished in my mind, so that I can survey it, like a fine picture or a beautiful statue, at a glance. Nor do I hear in my imagination the parts successively, but I hear them, as it were, all at once. What a delight this is! All this inventing, this producing, takes place in a pleasing, lively dream.” – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

A Musical Genius Compared to Mozart

 At age twelve, Jay Greenberg had already written five full-length symphonies. His music teacher at the Julliard School says of Jay, “He could finish a piano sonata before our eyes in probably 25 minutes. And it would be a great piece.”

CBS articleHow is it possible? Jay told [CBS Correspondent Scott] Pelley that he doesn’t know where the music comes from, but it comes fully written–playing like an orchestra in his head.

At age two he asked for a cello and drew pictures of one, though he had never seen or hear one. When his mother took him to a music store, they were shown a miniature cello. “And he just sat there. He…started playing on it,” recalls his mother. “And I was like, ‘How do you know how to do this?'”  more…

Audio: Listen to excerpts from some of Blue Jay’s compositions, here.

14-year-old Piano Jazz Prodigy

Wired article (2002) Matt Savage launched his jazz career by attempting to improve a Schubert sonata. His piano teacher told him that the G-sharp he just played was supposed to be a G-natural. “It sounds better my way,” he protested. She replied that only when he wrote his own music could he take liberties with a score. Keen on taking liberties, he became a jazz composer. He released his fifth album this year, making guest appearances on the Today show, 20/20, and NPR.

Audio: Matt Savage on ‘Piano Jazz
Matt Savage at Age 9       Matt’s Website

Poincaré – A Flash of Insight

“Many, if not most scientific insights, have come through the “a ha” of intuition. One of the best known flashes of insight is provided by Henri Poincaré. He describes how he had intensive periods of deliberate and conscious search for what he called Fuchsian functions, but had reached an impasse. He left for a geologic excursion, forgetting his mathematical work. As he stepped into a bus, the solution came to him in a flash. He says: “Without anything in my former thoughts seemingly to have paved the way for it …” –full comprehension in a single moment!  [Kendall Jouryan]

Dreaming a Discovery

One of the most famous instances of dream-discovery was that of the ring structure of Benzene. Till Kekule made the discovery, molecular structures were conceived as linear. This, however, did not explain many properties of Benzene. Kekule was trying to figure out a structure – not with much success – when the solution came to him in a dream. He described this experience to a assembly of scientists who had met to commemorate his discovery:

“…I turned my chair toward the fire place and sank into a doze. Again the atoms were flitting before my eyes. Smaller groups now kept modestly in the background. My mind’s eye sharpened by repeated visions of a similar sort, now distinguished larger structures of varying forms. Long rows frequently rose together, all in movement, winding and turning like serpents; and see! what was that? One of the serpents seized its own tail and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes. I came awake like a flash of lightning. This time also I spent the remainder of the night working out the consequences of the hypothesis.”  [August Kekulé]

Savant Syndrome
[a rich resource on savant syndrome provided by the Wisconsin Medical Society]

The academy-award-winning film Rain Man brought national and international attention to the savant syndrome condition. But since it was first described a century ago, the phenomenon of the savant — the juxtapositions of severe mental handicap and prodigious mental ability — has remained unexplained. 

Kim Peak: The Real Rain Man

Wikipedia article Kim Peek (born November 11, 1951, died December 21, 2009), was a savant though he was not autistic. He had a photographic or eidetic memory and developmental disabilities, possibly resulting from congenital brain abnormalities. He was the inspiration for the character of Raymond Babbit, played by Dustin Hoffman, in the movie Rain Man.

Videos: See and learn more about Kim peak, here.

* all from the Extraordinary Knowing class website, my first OLLI at Auburn University class.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.