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The Genesis of Genius in London

April 18, 2012

I recently read a review, ‘Unruly incubators of fertile minds’ by Matthew Westwood, and (The Australian 17/4/2012) of a book called ‘Imagine: The Science of Creativity’ by Jonah Lehrer. The reporter details some amazing insights into the creative mind.

An intriguing chapter in the book concerns the ferment of creativity during the time of Shakespeare. Although the Bard’s father had been an illiterate glover, he had been blessed with lessons in Latin at the age of eight due to education reforms. Such reforms led to an explosion in artistic and scientific creativity that has continued to the present day. In modern times you could say, musically and artistically speaking, the British Invasion exemplified by the Beatles was another such period of exponential inspiration and creativity.

One of the points made by Lehrer is that too much focusing can make the act of creativity, in whatever field, that much harder. He cites examples (Bob Dylan included) where the artist came to inspiration and creativity almost subconsciously or when distracted as when say taking a shower or walking the dog. As a writer and artist I would have to agree with this although I would add the proviso that setting can also be important. I had always wanted to live and work in London and when I did I gained the inspiration to write about it in a fictional sense. I had done the same thing in Tokyo when in response to frequent earthquakes I wrote a sci-fi short story (‘Prescursors’, which is available as a free download on my website  which was later published. The terrible Fukushima disaster of 2011 evoked painful memories that had already been crystallised in fiction.

Several Australian artists including the singer Helen Reddy and the ever visible Germaine Greer have commented on their burst of creativity after they had landed off shore in the US and the UK respectively. Moving overseas may not be a winning formula for everybody yet I did feel there was something exciting and inspiring about London specifically and I do hope this is evident in my soon to be published (on August 25th by Caffeine Nights Publishing) crime genre novel ‘London’s Falling’.

It appears through neuroscience that the brain is hard wired for creativity and Noam Chomsky the great psycholinguist has commented that that language is a finite toolbox for expressing an infinite number of things. The mere act of speech is creative and you can sense this when you make it up as you go along. Creativity is in our very marrow so let’s make use of it whether you are in London or not .

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