Where do good ideas come from? Most people would say “inspiration” or divine intervention of creativity, but where do they really come from? What can influence these said ideas? Various authors such as Lynch, Johnson, and the Smithsonian have different inputs over this idea. Lynch states that good ideas are first conceived through desire, and lead to an idea limited by consciousness. Johnson states that good ideas come through incubation and the collision of two partial good ideas. The Smithsonian states that good ideas are derived from the surrounding environment, merely a correction to what the surrounding culture is missing. Whereas these articles and thinkers are all giving their input on initial creativity, their key concepts differ. Lynch believes good ideas approach you and are dependent on your consciousness, Johnson believes good ideas develop over time, and Smithsonian believes a good idea is a new development of a past idea.
Lynch puts his perspective to view through the comparison of creating an idea to fishing. He takes an interesting stance on coming up with ideas. Instead of focusing on the creative process or how to think creatively, he focuses on the capacity of these ideas. Going with the fishing references, he states that desire is the bait for a good idea. He doesn’t state that you have to contemplate every day to find a good idea, but rather let the desire for an idea bring it to you. However, these ideas are limited. Lynch expresses that “If you have a golf-ball-sized consciousness, when you read a book, you’ll have a golf-ball-sized understanding; when you look out a window, a golf-ball-sized awareness; when you wake up in the morning, a golf-ball-sized wakefulness; and as you go about your day, a golf-ball-sized inner happiness”. This quote stuck out to me the most. It is very insightful, as it got me to think of how different some people’s consciousness are from each other. This really highlights how the same world can be so different to everyone. Not everyone sees eye to eye, and it may be because of this difference in consciousness. When it comes to creativity, this difference in consciousness emphasizes how the more you expand your consciousness, the greater the potential to generate and attract deeper, more pure ideas.
The only part of Lynch’s article that I think he overlooked was the concept of collective ideas. He does not state anything about two or more people collaboratively coming up with an idea, potentially combining their consciousness for an even deeper idea. Other than that, I believe every viewpoint was covered. I do believe that Lynch and Johnson have complementing ideas over one aspect of the concept of creativity. They both take note of idea never truly coming in a eureka-type of moment. They view ideas as slow, as they need time to develop. Johnson calls this concept a “slow hunch” and Lynch describes it as waiting for the fish. However, these ideas diverge. Johnson states that these slow, developing ideas must collide with each other; use other ideas to become one full idea. Lynch does not mention combining ideas. On the other hand, Lynch states something Johnson does not. He brings to light how conflict and stress can make ideas better and how with enough stress or conflict, creativity is not viable in an environment of extreme stress. Johnson takes a different approach to creating new ideas. Johnson believes that ideas are part of what he calls a “slow hunch”. This perspective is unique, as he states that some ideas will take many, many years to mature. Johnson explains how a slow hunch develops and will breakthrough when combined with another slow hunch. This was really insightful to me, it made me think about any potential slow hunches I may have. Johnson explains it almost as these slow hunches are puzzle pieces, missing key aspects and concepts that another person’s slow hunch may have. However, when he says “slow hunch”, he means it. He emphasizes how these ideas stay dormant from anywhere form 1-10 years before the ideas fully mature and can be useful. Whether they begin as fragments of a moment of inspiration, the time required for these ideas to develop does not change.
Another thing Johnson brings to attention is the need for these ideas to collide and places where they can do so. He references the coffee house during the enlightenment period and the salons of modernism of places where these slow hunches can “meet and collide”. The point that stuck out the most to me from Johnson’s video was his emphasis about connectivity in the modern age. He states how the new age has developed more good ideas with the rise in connectivity and social media of the new age. He addresses both sides of the issue, one where it encourages his other point of slow hunches to collide, but another where it could be overwhelming us and de-sophisticating our minds with the onslaught of presented information. This statement put the world around me in a different perspective. After reading, I considered all that was presented to us through social media and our cellular devices. It felt like an information overload while I looked through Johnson’s perspective, as there was not a moment I could recognized without something new being presented in front of me. It gave me insight towards the negative, but also to the positive. I was also able to recognize the availability new ideas were to me, and how I could potentially build off of them if I felt the necessity arose.
Unfortunately, there are key ideas that Johnson looks over. For example, he ignores the potential of an individual to come up with their own good ideas. Johnson explains the concept of collision and collaboration and the environment where two people can take their ideas together for a sense of a “complete” idea, however, he ignores how people can develop ideas, to their full potential, on their own. It is strange, however, that he references Tim Berners Lee as an example. He references Tim when he talks about the concept of a slow hunch, and collision of small hunches, but Tim did not collaborate with anyone. Tim created the World Wide Web after approximately 10 years of developing his slow hunch, alone. He also doesn’t clearly answer the question if one person could have more than one slow hunch at a time. He talks about slow hunches combining and collaborating between two or more people, but does not recognize that there could be other ideas and other slow hunches that could also potentially collide with someone else’s slow hunch.
Johnson and the Smithsonian share common ideas when it comes to forming ideas. Johnson states in his video how it is essential for slow hunches to combine to form a new, original idea. The Smithsonian agrees with this partially, stating “We take the ideas we’ve inherited or that we’ve stumbled across, and we jigger them together into some new shape”. This agrees with Johnson in stating that new ideas can collide to form new ideas, however, the Smithsonian highlights how instead of a combined effort to sharpen the idea, it is up to the person who stumbled across the idea to “jigger it into a new shape”. The Smithsonian also references Henry Ford, a man who reinvented the creation of cars. Henry used the combined ideas of the people he saw around him, such as mass production and assembly lines. He reformed the idea into a new shape, creating a new idea. However, when asked about his new idea, he stated “I invented nothing new. I simply assembled into a car the discoveries of other men behind whom were centuries of work”. In comparison to Johnson, this quote offers another argument. What if, instead of colliding with others, we use shards of their ideas to sharpen one for yourself? The Smithsonian elaborates on this in their main point.
The Smithsonian takes an alternative approach to origin creativity in regards to Johnson and Lynch. The main focus of the Smithsonian is not coming up with ideas, but how other people and the surrounding culture influence your new idea. The Smithsonian claims that a new idea can be based on the genealogy of the surrounding culture, and how good ideas are propelled by prior works. For example, the Smithsonian references Picasso. Picasso was a painter who strived to make art unlike anyone else’s. He created Les Demoiselles, a work unlike any other. He drifted away from the common theme of incredibly realistic works of the 19th century, creating a work of art composed of shapes and blotches of color. It was an incredibly bold idea and a novel idea, but the traces of genealogy of the generation prove that he might have been motivated by other artists to make this move. Artists before Picasso also started to drift away from the French style of paining of “hyperrealism”, such as another artist named El Greco. It can be seen that parts of Les Demoiselles were likely influenced by El Greco. It was found that Picasso repeatedly admired El Greco’s piece Apocalyptic Vision. It was clear that Picasso was referencing other painters around him as reference for his new idea, or motivation. Ideas can also be influenced by the surrounding genealogy, as shown by Henry Ford. The creation of automobiles was forever changed by an idea of Ford’s, one that would bring mass production and assembly lines together for the eventual faster production of cars. Surrounding this incredible idea, it is not stated how people like Eli Whitney or the cigarette industry were involved with his idea. Eli Whitney created arms with interchangeable parts for rifles to be used in the US army, and the cigarette company had previously sped up their production rate by creating a series of steps to be followed in the factory. Ford combined these ideas to create his own, a clear combination of creating mass parts and an order to be followed with each that lead to the faster productions of cars. This gave me insight towards sharpening my own ideas. I never thought to myself that one idea could be sharpened or made better by comparing it to the ideas that compete with it. This concept made me look around at other people in a different way. Instead of copying, how could I potentially use the unique aspects of their idea to increase the depth of my own.
The Smithsonian made various and unique points about the surrounding environment of good ideas, but it overlooks some key issues. One of which I thought of was the fact that they did not include how one person’s ideas can be spontaneous and how motivation for a new idea can come from within. Another thing that is overlooked is the fact that some ideas can be completely original, not influenced by the surrounding society nor propelled by past work. Whereas it is true that new ideas can be very productive by completing surrounding ideas or filling in what society is missing, the element of variability was not visible at any point in the article.
In conclusion, these three articles come together to create a deeper sense of what it means to have an “original idea” and the conditions where these new ideas can be created or made deeper. Lynch showed how important it is to expand our consciousness to increase the overall quality of ideas. Johnson highlighted how important it is to have ideas collide with other ideas, and how powerful a slow, matured idea can be at the right time. The Smithsonian emphasized how ideas can be made sharper by using ideas in the surrounding culture and how new ideas are propelled by past ones. All three of these articles come together to create a structured basis for original thought.