More Thought Avalanches …On Creativity, Influence, Synthesis…

Apologies but this is simply a dropping off point for some notes on other peoples thoughts on Creativity, Influence, Synthesis…

Tying in with some of my recent thoughts on Acquisition and Appropriation versus Synthesis and Creation

Steven R. Covey.

Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).

Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.*

People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them.

Until a person can say deeply and honestly, ‘I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,’ that person cannot say, ‘I choose otherwise.’

To learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.

It is one thing to make a mistake, and quite another thing not to admit it. People will forgive mistakes, because mistakes are usually of the mind, mistakes of judgment. But people will not easily forgive the mistakes of the heart, the ill intention, the bad motives, the prideful justifying cover-up of the first mistake.

Admission of ignorance is often the first step in our education.

Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.

The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person.

How you treat the one reveals how you regard the many, because everyone is ultimately a one.

Schmandt-Besserat also went on to suggest that writing and visual art share a catalystic symbiosis in which one influenced the other to higher functionality.


Her investigations led her to note that before the common use of writing, iconography in the near east was simply pattern based, built up of repetative motifs, but once the same systems, and semantic use of form size placement and order where applied (as used in Mesopotamian script on tablets) to the hierarchy of images, complex narratives began to evolve (see the comic book style use of images in Assyrian Art – image here)


Barthes suggesting that the critic be elevated higher than the artist in that they take a series of signs and assign to them new orders and greater value, as a Jazz musician might add value and new meaning to a “given” set of chords and notes.

The unbelievable arrogance of it; the phoresy of a Remora fish that believes itself to be a bigger and more advanced shark than the one it feeds on; a flea that sees itself as a larger and more impressive dog than the one it contaminates. Phoresy that quickly degenerates into parasitism.

The falsehood of the Mercator Projection –

Mark Twain on the values we attribute to images and accepted criticism on those images and how that in turn affects behaviour – From Innocents Abroad.

This paragraph recalls the picture. “The Last Supper” is painted on the dilapidated wall of what was a little chapel attached to the main church in ancient times, I suppose. It is battered and scarred in every direction, and stained and discolored by time, and Napoleon’s horses kicked the legs off most the disciples when they (the horses, not the disciples,) were stabled there more than half a century ago.

I recognized the old picture in a moment–the Saviour with bowed head seated at the centre of a long, rough table with scattering fruits and dishes upon it, and six disciples on either side in their long robes, talking to each other–the picture from which all engravings and all copies have been made for three centuries. Perhaps no living man has ever known an attempt to paint the Lord’s Supper differently. The world seems to have become settled in the belief, long ago, that it is not possible for human genius to outdo this creation of da Vinci’s. I suppose painters will go on copying it as long as any of the original is left visible to the eye. There were a dozen easels in the room, and as many artists transferring the great picture to their canvases. Fifty proofs of steel engravings and lithographs were scattered around, too. And as usual, I could not help noticing how superior the copies were to the original, that is, to my inexperienced eye. Wherever you find a Raphael, a Rubens, a Michelangelo, a Carracci, or a da Vinci (and we see them every day,) you find artists copying them, and the copies are always the handsomest. Maybe the originals were handsome when they were new, but they are not now.

This picture is about thirty feet long, and ten or twelve high, I should think, and the figures are at least life size. It is one of the largest paintings in Europe.

The colors are dimmed with age; the countenances are scaled and marred, and nearly all expression is gone from them; the hair is a dead blur upon the wall, and there is no life in the eyes. Only the attitudes are certain.

People come here from all parts of the world, and glorify this masterpiece. They stand entranced before it with bated breath and parted lips, and when they speak, it is only in the catchy ejaculations of rapture:

“Oh, wonderful!”

“Such expression!”

“Such grace of attitude!”

“Such dignity!”

“Such faultless drawing!”

“Such matchless coloring!”

“Such feeling!”

“What delicacy of touch!”

“What sublimity of conception!”

“A vision! A vision!”

I only envy these people; I envy them their honest admiration, if it be honest–their delight, if they feel delight. I harbor no animosity toward any of them. But at the same time the thought will intrude itself upon me, How can they see what is not visible? What would you think of a man who looked at some decayed, blind, toothless, pock-marked Cleopatra, and said: “What matchless beauty! What soul! What expression!” What would you think of a man who gazed upon a dingy, foggy sunset, and said: “What sublimity! What feeling! What richness of coloring!” What would you think of a man who stared in ecstasy upon a desert of stumps and said: “Oh, my soul, my beating heart, what a noble forest is here!”

You would think that those men had an astonishing talent for seeing things that had already passed away. It was what I thought when I stood before “The Last Supper” and heard men apostrophizing wonders, and beauties and perfections which had faded out of the picture and gone, a hundred years before they were born. We can imagine the beauty that was once in an aged face; we can imagine the forest if we see the stumps; but we can not absolutely see these things when they are not there. I am willing to believe that the eye of the practiced artist can rest upon the Last Supper and renew a lustre where only a hint of it is left, supply a tint that has faded away, restore an expression that is gone; patch, and color, and add, to the dull canvas until at last its figures shall stand before him aglow with the life, the feeling, the freshness, yea, with all the noble beauty that was theirs when first they came from the hand of the master. But I can not work this miracle. Can those other uninspired visitors do it, or do they only happily imagine they do?

After reading so much about it, I am satisfied that the Last Supper was a very miracle of art once. But it was three hundred years ago.

The lie inherent in the representation of any idea through a weaker or lesser mediium will always be cause for debate and discussion.

Tufte in his worry of the lack of holistic scope in powerpoint.

…or simply the trotting out of sayings like “a picture is worth a thousand words”

“Maps, for instance, afford an overall view. They allow us to order the world as we see fit, regardless of the truth of a sphere borne reality.

Ebstorfs map (symbolic representation based on a cultural world view) versus a photo of the earth (the truth, as rationalised by the brain), versus a contempoarary political world map in which the economic or political bias of a small group of decision makers acts as a lens through which the actual geography of the world is reinterpreted and distorted, with obvious intent and agenda.

Pt 3 (un-finished) – The Legacy of Predation, the science of perception.

Plato’s Cave.

Something on the way we as humans interact with images, our understanding of the self and the constructs in place to help us maintain that and our view of the world – See Dawkins discussions surrounding perception, the rationalisation by the brain of a massive amount of information ito something that makes sense and allows us to move through the world and persist as an organism.

Much of the mammal and in particular the human brain is involved with visual perception.

From Aristotle through to Galen, Da Vinci to Helmholtz through to David Marr.

The educational idea of “visual thinkers” the backlash against it by Coffield.

The student who doesn’t read… What are the socio-economic/psychological/societal reasons for this?

It may well be the case that as a side issue within the broader investigation I look at those fine artists that have touched upon this subject, or the wider subjects of text versus image (despite its abstracted context), Jenny Holzer, Eric Loyer, Martin Firrell, Barbara Kruger and on the opposite side of the fence, Banksy, along with the Philosophy of Images and Modern Living.


Pt 6 – Vox Populi and the Minds Eye, a series of encounters with image users (un Finished)

The minds eye, what do you see when you think about… [insert subject], or the The Year Ahead, The Year Behind… etc all questions that have had to be carefully rewritten to avoid the idea of having led the querent to a visual outcome…


1 – When imagining the future or an event that would be happening the following week, do you think about it as “a playing out” of the actual event, or as words, like a review or diary entry, or something else? For example what do you think you will be doing next Friday? How does your mind deal with that question.

2 – When thinking about the year to come and the year now finished in your mind, how do you process the information, as words?

3 – Type, What style of type might your associate with useful instruction, or advice you might take? Look at the examples below and order “most likely to…” and  “least likely to draw you to investigate further”.

4 – Which visual styles do you associate with useful instruction, or advice you might take? Look at the examples below and order “most likely to…” and  “least likely to draw you to investigate further”.

I will need to balance this almost historical investigation with research based on specific groups, particularly potential user groups, this research may take the form of surveys, not of tick box data but qualitative responses to visual stimuli or questions relating to their relationship with information as presented visually and in written form.

This data will need to be collated and perhaps transcribed with the raw data supplied as appendices or even online “vox pop’s” footage (permissions allowing) with links supplied as appendices.

The data will then be used to describe potential outcomes or solutions, linked to design theory in order to further guide my actual practice and the drive towards potentially useful outcomes.



Milton Glaser Interviews –


Controversial addition to our reading lists on one of our new media courses) in generating a more holistic or “meta-connective methodology” in our students, something akin to the studies done on creativity that suggest day dreaming or mental states similar to day dreaming or drifting, (like those experienced when being confronted with new ideas or imagery when reading), for example the Shelley Carson’s study (2003) at Harvard University on the association between people who where shown to let their minds wander during a task rather than fully focusing and those who became high achievers in left field areas such as  publishing novels, patenting inventions and having had art shown at a gallery. Or Mark Jung-Beeman and Karuna Subramaniam’s study that looked at the relaxation of concentration in solving creative word puzzles.

The image of the spotlight focusing in on the square peg and the round hole, and the wider diffused light that shows the whole set of pegs and all the holes in the block, or the spot showing the edge of the flock wall paper or the diffused wider light looking at the whole pattern.


Genius, in truth, means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.






An event experienced is an event perceived, digested, and assimilated into the substance of our being, and the ratio between the number of cases seen and the number of cases assimilated is the measure of experience. — Wilfred Trotter Address, opening of 1932-3 session of U.C.H. Medical School (4 Oct 1932), ‘Art and Science in medicine’, The Collected Papers of Wilfred Trotter, FRS (1941), 98

Will/No Fear of Failure



There’s no better way to inform and expand your mind on a regular basis than to get into the habit of reading good literature.

Habit 1: Be Proactive
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind (Respice Finem)
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
Habit 6: Synergize
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Head over to the excellent BrianPickings blog by Maria Popova and find out more in their full article – “Remembering Steven R. Covey…”

Mark Twain –  a.k.a. Samuel Clemens (1835-1910)

What is Man?

Old Man – NONE BUT GODS HAVE EVER HAD A THOUGHT WHICH DID NOT COME FROM THE OUTSIDE. Adam probably had a good head, but it was of no sort of use to him until it was filled up FROM THE OUTSIDE. He was not able to invent the triflingest little thing with it. He had not a shadow of a notion of the difference between good and evil–he had to get the idea FROM THE OUTSIDE. Neither he nor Eve was able to originate the idea that it was immodest to go naked; the knowledge came in with the apple FROM THE OUTSIDE. A man’s brain is so constructed that IT CAN ORIGINATE NOTHING WHATSOEVER. It can only use material obtained OUTSIDE. It is merely a machine; and it works automatically, not by will-power. IT HAS NO COMMAND OVER ITSELF, ITS OWNER HAS NO COMMAND OVER IT.

Young Man – Well, never mind Adam: but certainly Shakespeare’s creations–

Old Man – No, you mean Shakespeare’s IMITATIONS. Shakespeare created nothing. He correctly observed, and he marvelously painted.

Edward R. Tufte on Data Visualisation.

* “First do no harm (to the content).”
* “This (data visualisation) is a content-driven business. The quality, the relevance and the integrity of the content is all.”
* “Design cannot rescue failed content.”
* “The best way to improve the quality of a presentation is to improve the content.”
* “We must be incessantly on guard against those – the webmasters, the PowerPoint rangers, etc. – who would distort the integrity of content.”

Barthes suggesting that the critic be elevated higher than the artist in that they take a series of signs and assign to them new orders and greater value, as a Jazz musician might add value and new meaning to a “given” set of chords and notes.

The unbelievable arrogance of it; the Phoresy of a Remora fish that believes itself to be a bigger and more advanced shark than the one it feeds on; a flea that sees itself as a larger and more impressive dog than the one it contaminates. Phoresy that quickly degenerates into parasitism.

Nick Felton – Nicholas presents a survey of recent experiments with quantitative storytelling, the resulting projects and processes.

“Unprecedented look at the creative process of infographic storyteller Nicholas Felton of Feltron Report fame, from this year’s EyeO Festival.”

brainpicker: Unprecedented look at @feltron’s creative process, the finest infographic storyteller around (↬ @blprnt)

Original Tweet:

Sent via TweetDeck (

<p><a href=”″>Eyeo2012 – Nicholas Felton</a> from <a href=””>Eyeo Festival</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

~ by hesir on August 14, 2012.

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