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Creativity as a proxy for intelligence
A word I despise: creativity...
Hello intersectional thinkers 👋
Greetings from La Réunion, home to the most active volcano on this magical planet.
From the viewing platform, a little boy stomped his feet and whined “I’m not creative. I don’t want to take a photo!” His dad was trying to start a round of friendly family photo competition - who can take the best photo of Piton de la Fournaise?
This is why I despise the word: creativity.
It’s like a crumpled piece of kleenex sitting on the kitchen counter. Some would use it without batting an eyelash (myself included), others (like my dad) readily discard it without hesitation.
Creativity is vague. It's soft. It's misunderstood.
What’s wrong with creativity?
How to create a hit
Through some major alignment of stars, I got to chat with the legendary J-Pop producer Kenmochi-san.
As a “creator” writing and making YouTube videos on the internet, I needed to know - “How do you create hits?”
His smile softened, he leaned in, and quietly, he counted off his 4 step hit formula:
1. Analyze your own hits against your meh songs to find the difference
2. Analyze your own hits against each other to find similarities
3. Compare your own hits with others' to find similarities and differences
4. Connect it all and don't forget to add your own ”wrinkle” so you mark your unique sound
There was no talk about muses, late night in the studio jamming, pulling out voice notes to record the sudden melodic epiphanies gracing the mind out of nowhere. The key to creating hits was a logical step by step formula.
Isn't his formula a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat) analysis?
The key to catchy creative music is taught by suits in MBA framework 101? Maybe “to create” is more rigorous than we’d like to believe.
What does it mean to be creative?
How to hold two opposing ideas and function
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind and still retain the ability to function. - F Scott Fitzgerald
And two opposing ideas, a paradox, as Richard Feynman says, is "only a conflict between reality and your feeling of what reality 'ought to be'".
Seeing things for what it is. That's intelligence.
The creative act of music, as Kenmochi-san silently articulated through his SWOT analysis, is as much an art as it is a business. For the act of creation, the two seemingly unrelated concepts are mutually inclusive.
Who said being creative doesn’t pay.
Make art and make money. That’s intelligence.
After all, what’s business but an act of creation that makes money.
Creativity as seeing fearlessly
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution."
- Albert Einstein
Einstein thinks making things up is more important than knowledge?
If that sounds absurd, you might have just insulted scientific thinking.
As quantum physicist Carlo Rovelli elegantly defined: scientific thinking is "understanding something before it's observed."
"Science is about exploring new ways of conceptualizing the world. At time, radically new. It is the capacity to constantly call our conceptions into question.
The visionary force of a rebellious, critical spirit, capable of modifying its own conceptual basis, capable of redesigning our world from scratch.”
- Carlo Rovelli
Science sees our world as it, and our world as it could be.
Science is creative.
Art is creative.
Or as Leonardo da Vinci declared, “To develop a complete mind: Study the science of art; Study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
Because we forget that we see through our minds.
Our default mind sees a divided reality marked by arbitrary boundaries - creativity is for starving artists and business frameworks are for wealthy MBAs.
Our creative mind sees a connected reality by blurring those convenient lines on the map. Creativity blurs boundaries in attempt to connect and hold two opposing thoughts at the same time and function.
Creativity is seeing fearlessly. By seeing fearlessly, creativity becomes a proxy for intelligence.
Have a great week!
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