« Freakonomics Radio

368. Where Do Good Ideas Come From?

2019-02-20 | 🔗

Whether you’re mapping the universe, hosting a late-night talk show, or running a meeting, there are a lot of ways to up your idea game. Plus: the truth about brainstorming. (Ep. 3 of the “How to Be Creative” series.)

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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If you'd like to listen to free economic radio without ads the place to do that is sticker premium five dollars a month and you can get a free month trial by going to stick your premium dot com and use a promo code freak. You also get access to all our bonus. Episodes and you'll be supporting our show to that sticker premium. Dot, com, promo code, freak thanks. A previous episode number three sixty seven. If your counting was about the future of Meet one of the people having determine that future is a biochemists pat Brown, he founded a company called him possible foods whose mission is whose mission is to completely replace animals as production technology by twenty thirty five. The science
Fine Browns idea is fascinating and impressive, and all that, but it is also to me at least it's also an act of remarkable creativity. Well, just in principle it should be possible to produce food to deliver all the qualities that consumers want more sustainably from plants. Making me out of plants was not Pat Browns first created breakthrough years earlier, as Stanford researcher he creates. Genetic tool called. Dna micro array. That letter, learn how the genome right the life story this out as interesting as was to talk to round about both the DNA Micro Array and possible meat, I found myself think about an even more interesting question, or at least a much broader one. Whether we're talking science or the arts or business. Where do crew If ideas come from so today and for economics, radio,
resume our occasional how to be creative series with that question. Some ideas as well here are made possible by new technologies and that's what enabled the revolution in our ability to map the universe some ideas are imposed by a deadline. When you have a lot of restrictions, we also have something to struggle with to fight against in some ideas, sometimes take out of nowhere you think, and then it turns out that they came from the future and work can you look for inspiration, inspiration Four amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work I'm happy
friends, stature and that no productions, this history, economics, radio broadcasts and explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your home Stephen Governor. Up to this point in our series on creativity, we ve looked at some myths like the connection between creativity and dysfunction, its false many creative people do have dysfunctional families, but not every created personnel, dysfunctional family. We looked at the connection between creativity and school schools and focusing on the thing that are most easily says, rather than focusing on the things that are most viable for kids. So we need to do is to focus more on trying to assess.
Things we value rather volume. Two things there. Most easily assessed, but what we haven't figured out how to answer that, question you may ask: whenever you see an enormously creative thing, whether to sculpture or a movie or scientific leap, how did they come up with that idea? The idea, of course just the beginning, I'm sure you ve heard the famous saying generally attributed to Thomas Edison Genius, is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration, but still what about that? One percent? Where does it come from? And How can you get more of it, in the evening when I'm listening to music. That's when I is: come it's very important to feel free, I don't think, there's any way you can be creative without feeling free. That is the pioneering
drove Physicist Margaret Geller, I like to say that I've spent my life mapping the universe. Geller is responsible for discoveries about the distribution of galaxies in the universe. The fact that their often in clumps and not distributed evenly to reach that understanding, Geller had together many observations of distant galaxies, essentially take pictures of them the thing that enabled us to do what we did was a big change in the technology geller started doing. This search around nineteen eighty. So at that time what happened is that people went from photographic plate to what we call solid state detectors. Now that may you are confusing term, but every single person has one of those in their pocket, so your cell phone, the detector in it. The thing you take pictures with is the so called charge couple device. And it's about as big as your finger nail? Will you
those same things in astronomy, bigger ones, and that's what enabled the revolution in our ability to map the universe the galaxies Geller wanted to observe were many light years away. I think it's amazing think about that that these photons, these particles of light travels through the pretty empty universe for honey, of millions billions of years they don't hit anything till they hit these tiny detector. On this tiny speck of dust, we call the earth. We interpret those signals to figure out what, the universe looks like and how it came to be. So the question was: are there patterns in the universe are their features. Is there some geometry? So that's where colors path, breaking idea came from. First, there was a new technology that afforded a much better view of the universe. Then the big question
hadn't been answered. What the underlying geometry of the universe. So then the question is the universe, this big life is short, so How do you address this question? If you have a small telescope and you want to get done so I began to think about the earth- and the patterns on the surface of the earth. So what are the biggest pattern? It's the continents in the oceans, Suppose we are an alien, and you want to know whether the earth has continents and oceans You can only see a tiny fraction of it say the fraction covered by Rhode Island. What shape do you take for the sample that you're allowed to see. Well. If you take a patch you're, not gonna, learn much because most the time at a land in the ocean, but you can take a very in great circle around the earth, and there are a few great circles that past,
through only oceans, but those are few most will cross both and mass in the ocean. You'll find out that the earth has two kinds of patterns, both big now the universe of courses. A two dimensional surface. It's a three dimensional play. So the analogy to this great circle so slice in three demand space so that we did we map galaxies in this three, animal slice of the universe, so Geller and her Fellow researchers took a three dimensional slice of the universe and mapped the galaxies contained inside It turned out that the survey we made the slice was just thick enough and reach just deep enough in the union, first to see what turns out to be the characteristic pattern. In the way galaxies, are right: in the universe, so galaxies surround huge regions that are dark, essentially devoid of galaxies,
that are tens of millions of light years across and the galleys is our in thin structures that surround these kinds of empty Jensen that turns out to be the characteristic structure that people now call the cosmic web, and what's it like to be able to look into the sky and see the deep structure of the universe? It's a kinder thrill. Let you never forget, I think, there's a kind of all. I think that there is an artist tree in nature there. Has a beauty that we're all wired up to appreciate. So Margaret Kellers big idea happened like this. She started from What was already known and unknown she looked at new capabilities technology gave her. She formulated big, important question and found us way to answer that question. Using the new tools at our disposal, sound,
a rational way to come up with an idea. Recent retrospect there's another deeply rational sort of question that can lead to good ideas. It goes like this. Isn't ludicrous so many things we encounter every day are designed so poorly rather an arrogant way of putting it. That's James, Dasent, the adjective my profession. I do. I do go around looking at things critically to see if the good idea. Author could be an improvement or how I would improve, as I think you nothing the almost all engineers do that if you do you're not really an engineer. Dyson along with Elon Musk, is among the most He must living inventors, but, unlike must could dreams up the loops and Mars missions He sent his worked on wheelbarrows and hand dryers and most profitably vacuum cleaners. It turns out he's been fairly obsessed with the vacuum
cleaner. Since childhood I mean I remember, it dinner at home in the early fifties and it screaming away making us, asked his style smell of dust and not really picking things up sire. I remember it wasn't very good She knows. I was very pleased to use at nothing. It's the any electrical device we had in the house. We didn't have. Sockets on the walls. In those days signal to take out the light, bulb, stand on a chair and connect into the light, bulb socket and not pull too hard with the court. Later on, Dyson had his own family and a home with its own dust, and I bought what posts to be the most powerful backing ever made an online, the same old problem about by night had paper bags Robin tough bags, but same screaming noise same smell of style, dusk. It's not picking things up
bit. Now being an engineer, I took it to bits and realised that all the athlete had to go through the bag and, of course, the bag as little holes in it and they get blocked by the very first dust the goes into the back, so that that contain it bags. Full not because its full, but because it's got a little bit of dust in it that blocks little in it and I go on spit angry about this. Actually I thought this is. This is bad and I did it alive. I'll give you a hundred boss until it goes Paul your cargoes alone, demands love what a ruse want to go on until it breaks down, but a vacuum. Cleaner has a reducing performance, and that's not really very satisfactory basin didn't act on his frustration, immediately,
At the time he was busy manufacturing a different invention of his called a ball barrow. A ball barrow is a wheelbarrow, but rather than the small wheel up front. That can be hard maneuver and get stuck in the mud. It has a spiritual, we'll, a ball atop. Its metal frame and we had to put in a powder casing- plant codes, the frames and We had a screen. A clause scream while the like that contain a bag but kept getting clogged with the powder, and I discovered efficient factors used to think or recycling, which is about thirty foot high, which spun the powder out percent feeble force, rather than having a plugging filter side, decided to make one over couple weakens now. I understand you copied one from saw mill yes, yes, and he worked brilliantly attracted the favor powder. All day long cleaner appeared to come out of the chimney. Top of it
We're talking problem had gone away, and I wonder as I was welding. This thing off, whether in miniature, you could put one in a vacuum, so rest home and rip the bag of my vat container, and I made a Kabul Bonnet Shameth with gotta take, aboard and push it around. My house and this appeared to work. It appeared to work, but not well enough. Dyson says he five thousand one hundred twenty seven prototypes over five years today. The Dyson VAT, is one of the world's best sellers, the decent company, which also makes air purify. Airs and hair dryers
annual revenues of more than three billion dollars and Dyson himself as a network of more than five billion dollars has also been needed, so that worked out pretty well for him. But what, if you dont have five years to tinker with an idea? What if you have more like five days or five It's good to see you how's the family, good growing white man, that's an old friend of mine and old collaborator. My name's crystal Niemann and I'm lost trader and author Niemann is germs but lived in New York for years now he's back in Berlin, and so was I last summer visiting his studio. You may recognize his work more than two. Does a new Yorker covers his abstracts they column and much more from the New York Times. Also children's books, his industry.
Often turn on a clever transformation. A pair of bananas that represent a horses hindquarters poppy seed bagel, is repurchased into a man's chin, MID shave, even when the topic is serious. Niemann has a playful streak like the New Yorker cover. He made an The Fukushima nuclear disaster against a black background and drew the branches of a cherry tree. The blossoms, a familiar pink, were in shape the international radiation symbol, the tree foil or when I started out it was fairly easy. Easy in a sense of like simple. I would get a call from a man does he know newspaper, they would say we have a story on the stock market. Some policy political event. We have a certain space, we here's the heads. Here's the article. We need a visual equivalent to the head
how many sources my record was forty five minutes per year, time's up at page, because the Pakistani decided to testing nuclear weapons at three thirty entered the people went to printed five once they had to decision. I had, I think, thirty minutes to actually do the entire drawing unity view from a day too weak. Sometimes it's actually years for very open assignments. Give me just an example can be short, long been small of a particularly difficult problem that you had to solve with an illustration whether for me, the difficult but also the fun problems were always the ones where you have to tell a boring story through an inch visual when you have an interesting story, this aid there's somebody cures cancer or they aliens land on times square. There is no, you can add great layer with visuals, because with the aliens you just
want a photo of the alias there's. No smart metaphorical illustration to be done if somebody were to cure cancer. I just one like a big fat headline there's no, like smart image of somebody celebrate, there is nothing to add there. So I think these officials often were the best when you have a subtle story, or maybe even a boring story or a story, that's being told million times that you could and pop music would be, I love you. It has been said and sung legged gazillion times. The question is: can you do it interesting again, so I often found a boring economic stories were we know that there was a great way to tell an interesting story, not by saying this is completely. New information, but it's like well think about it in a different way, and as for years, illustrating the new Yorker financial column by James for Wiki, brilliant column. And I remember one was about how small cup
police, updating their technical Machinery hotel is an indicator for, for something and of quitting it. That's not a very see fields. Where was really about chemicals. All accounting for buying new computers and how often they would do that and and I didn't want to draw accountants or computer, so I actually drew the grim reaper and he looked into a shop window to shop window. Theirs big sickle and then there's a lot more and then an electric law more since it's him king thinking about whether you should come finally upgrade and of course you have to You have to know the metaphors and it requires a bit of a leap with a story like that. It's much more interesting to connect them add a visual layer,
So Niemann routinely needs to generate ideas on demand, often on a tight deadline. How does it happen? I guess swift he's gonna metaphorically illustrations. What I do is I try to these Erlich like words and like written language, it requires did The writer and the reader speak the same language. So when I think of a simple, I have to think what symbol is known and when you have access to five percent pushing up the wrong. I have to assume people noted image. If they don't any plan, I would make base and that one work. I think that is a very important skill set for fairer for designers. To be very aware of visual language and, what's known and also works very, what's what's not known so basic than what I do is I try to go somewhere like running, were wheel of every possible symbol and then said
Second, we are with you how you can twisted image and then to combine two symbols: You do something on money and then you go there It dollar sign a graph, the physical dollar. And then maybe it's about money and sports ago, basketball, football baseball and you try to take all these symbols and mix them together and then nine hundred, nine times. It means nothing and then all of a sudden, derosier tennis and the graph, and you go oh. What? If I take graph and weave into a tennis reckon which has been done so in time. It's not a great idea, but the basic issues running these two wheels against each other and then, being very, very attentive and seeing what clicks, and as usually happens in the process of drawing any to have that on the paper, because in the act of drawing things then turn out little different and Would imagined in your head and then also
wait. A minute like that. I had the idea in my head, but now did put down on paper. Something is off and that mom words off. We usually only then an interesting new solution comes life This is a point we should make about the kind of ideas it meaning was coming up with. They were generally in response to a commission. Basically, a buyer content, him with a request to generate sensible idea. So his ideas worth the most part, extrinsically motivated sitting around an intrinsically dreaming up ideas. It turned him on what do we know about the difference between extrinsic? Intrinsic motivation, when it comes to creativity, there's a lot of research we over in detail earlier in the serious episode number three, fifty five. If you want to hear it,
showing the extrinsic motivation tends to diminish creativity, both quantity and quality, Christoph Niemann, interestingly, has been able to shift over the years from extrinsic too in sick motivation is partly because he's been so successful, which gave him more opportunities to create what he wanted to create, but also the shift was necessitated by changes in technology and the economy. My approach has changed, but also because media has changed in this house, deadline. Driven imagery is not that relevant anymore and I feel, is more about storytelling more about its objective point of view and that's why I started doing a lot more work debts originating with me. So it's not me waiting for- who from from a story but me going out there in creating the story and then finally, the images for it.
It involves a lot of letting go, trusting myself a lot more with my traditional work, on the one hand, its harder, because you have the time. You have a lot more restrictions to fight against. The good thing is a year like to the Stockholm syndrome. For four hours when you have a lot of restrictions, also have something to struggle with to fight against and that its it's almost like holding you up. You can lean on these restrictions when you have no brief. It's on one hand fantastic. On the other hand, it's red disorienting, is this concrete freedom, where you just sit down as a kid and used are drawing, because we want to draw There was more about learning something all designers. In my experience, most regardless of the field, is sort of feel that they have, sort of intrinsic urge for self expression. That's the graphic designer Michael D, he's done a lot of work, you'd recognise for Mastercard, the New York Jets sex with avenue many others so most designers,
things have a strong intrinsic urge. What about the route, sometimes, when I've actually exam I myself really honestly I've I've come to think that I'm really on the extrinsic side of that spectrum, and I dont Ashley have ideas that I want to get out that I think our personal that I'm motivated by some need to get them in front of the world. The route thrives on getting a brief from a client brief do, however, range from specific to amorphous, in one case I might have, assignment, where I'm doing signs in a building that identify the bathroom or the fire exits now these things are meant to be functional. They can be attractive, they can be aesthetic they can. Even a playful sometimes but get into the mouth.
There is an urgent matter getting to the fire exit in some cases as a life or death matter, and those have to really do their job very efficiently on the other and sometimes people, Weissmann design, a logo for there business or enterprise, and in those cases where the logo can be more open, ended, it can be, and in many ways more creative. It can be open to interpretation. People can impose different leanings on it and I think the very heart of it indeed, is that moment where you make something from now there's a moment where you sort of hafta you know do. The math bit of alchemy that transmits all that into something interesting, compelling memorable and are an dance ass. She the moment that all creative people lived for, and I think many of them you know really.
I didn't sometimes to admit how rare away that moment comes. You know If that connection really happens three times a year, that's a landmark here for me, you know and there's a quote from Chuck close, that I have heard many people club, which is inspiration, four amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work, and I think that that's a true you sort of have to just be ready so that, when you kind of encounter that at the moment you ve got the money memory and the experience and the instincts to let you grab that opportunity, so Peru, Niemann, have given us some views from the creators side of the commissioning process. What's a commission look like from the commissioning side, we spoke with an pastoral
director of the Brooklyn Museum, when the oldest and most prestigious our institutions in the United States, I see them at a museum like the Brooklyn museum. Pastern act doesn't get do much commissioning, but in her previous job she ran a big public art group called creative time, which did lots of big in audacious. Commissioner, among the best known tribute in late, a nine eleven memorial made up of two shafts of late projected into the night sky. I mean there were pie altogether about a hundred and twenty giant lights that had from ITALY was new technology. Think about like a search light, but a really MAC has hurt flight was actually of varying enormous installation it takes weeks to, actually set up the lights, and then you all new volunteer bird watchers to make sure that in a birds are safe and that their not disorder, TED and flying into buildings and either the result
there's a lot of stuff, there was invisible to the public that had to be realised. Pester neck had another opportunity for a big commission, she was contacted by the owners of an enormous old building, the former domino sugar Factory on the Brooklyn waterfront. It was going to be turned into a park. And the owners thought creative time. I'd like to do something with the space before it was time for demolition. I immediately reached out to an artist. I always wanted to work with Kara Walker, who was never interested in any of the ideas that have been presented, her grand central station, whatever spaces as working and and Kara was not so interested, and I said, Clara you know, out and see the space you don't live far away and at the very least, you'll see this incredible historic site and it was just about aid inches of molasses. On the floor, molasses dripping from the ceilings. It was such an incredibly intense experience. It just activate
all of your senses, your site, your your touch, literally, you had a where big rubber boots and you went in there and they would fall off because they get stuck in the floor and the smell the smell in the heat and the moist you're anyway? So I thought that sir, was so enormous that may be Kara. We would do a group exhibition, but I Let us bring Kara their first and Kara said to me at the end of it. Are you know I want the whole. Base and I just laughed at her. I thought there was no way one artist on the. U know, micro budgets that create a time his working on could actually do something that would really work within that space and the next. Morning. I woke up and I think Moreover, sixty different proposals that she had sent to me literally all these drawings, just she must have stayed up all night long. One wrong after another, and I loved every single one of them and I said, whichever one you want to do, but over the next four or five months she just kept coming up with more ideas,
and finally, the idea of the big giant sugar sphinx that she created was that one idea I didn't understand. I wasn't really sure what it was or what it meant, but I trust the artist so much. I said if this is the one you want to do than we're gonna. Do it care Walker, titled, this peace, a subtlety or the marvelous sugar baby? She described it as an amount to the unpaid and overworked artisans, who have refined our sweet tastes from the cane fields to the kitchens of the new world on the occasion of the demolition of dumb. Sugar refining plant, it became a sensation. Did you come to understand it differently, better. Oh yeah, once once I was in the space, and I saw the great sugar thinks that if she was standing tall, she would have been ass tall ass, the statue of liberty.
I realize she was his great symbol of an of an african woman of great power and money or ability and and strength, and it was asked so heartbreaking, so powerful. Now I see it's about how we don't, and we do see black women and all of their beauty and all of their power and all of their courage. Quite frankly, I in tears over and over again. So the sugar Sphinx wasn't an pasture next idea, but she was the commissioner the facilitator, Jenny, dear about what kind of artist might respond well to that kind of space, and that to me at least seems like a creative act in itself. Well, I guess the central, maybe a little nurses, Stick on my part, but I think I think maybe that's true about
having a sense of who are really great artists who say something I believe important about the time. In which we live and my desire to want to work with them. And being able to pick out what is a good idea, and one of the things I have learned is that artists ten chew, like everybody else like some structure. Sometimes I would turn to artists and say so, and so you're, just such a brilliant artist. I do anything to work with you. What do you want to do and that's just to open? for them. So let's say you are not commissioning massive public works of art, let's say you're, maybe a middle manager in charge. Team has to produce some creative ideas team has ten people on it. First of all, you want to get rid of five of those ten people because tendencies many people to have other to that and much more above generating creative ideas coming up rate after this.
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Our job is to inspire them to think creatively. Ok, Teresa mobility is a social psychologist at the Harvard Business School study, motivation, creativity, innovation and in her work, life, a mobility has done a lot of research inside firms to see how creative work actually gets done. So for a team of ten. What's the best approach, you want to go they're all ten brainstorm ones. Them all off to come up with ideas on their own or maybe some combination. First of all, you want to get rid of five of those ten people. Because tends to minimise. He may have I don t. You Is it there's a lot of research? Your at five to seven tends to be the best size, so really solve a complex problem later on. When you have to implement the solution, obviously
we have much larger teams in you need them. So let's say you: ve got five people they're all good. They have skills, you'd probably do best to have, work together initially and talk about the problem and explore their problem and what some different angles might be make sure they kind of understand what Martin they're trying to climb them go often m individually, try to figure out different routes for I mean the mountain, but then bring them back together, a Heaven share their ideas, and I Clearly they will have that level of trust and openness to each other, that they can really bring together the best pieces of- thinking and you'll sometimes see solutions emerge that it are literally, cannot be traced to any one individual, but they were true hybrids of the ideas of multiple individuals, and what about brainstorming is that? Indeed,
an effective way to generate good ideas. The practice of brainstorm, seems to have originated with an advertising executive and Alex Osborne. He was the o in the famous abbot housing, firm, BBL Osborne wrote about brainstorming and eighteen. Forty two book called how to think up. Popular opinion, often is it. Brainstorming is just sort of sitting around the same, whatever comes to your mind, but it's not but surely neath university California psychologist to studied creativity in organisations. When Osborne talked about the brainstorming technique, it and for very specific rules to it, and he thought they were very important ways to stop. Things tended to get in the way of generating original ideas. And so one of them, for example, was emphasising quantity, namely just go for as many ideas can and don't.
A sort of stop and analyze, whether their good or not on route is that you should build on others ideas, but the one I paid tension to, and that's that one which may people treated as DE critical, We do not criticise the ideas of others, and that has an intuitive possibility because think of someone's going to criticize you think I'll just shut down and we're not going to say anything as a scholar. Nemeth is particularly interested in the role of dissent in organization So this cardinal rule of brainstorming, no dissent, essentially entry. Enter she designed and experiment to test whether the criticism that Osborne warned against actually does shut down. Creativity in a group what we did is we essentially chain One rule in
one condition we had the regular rules would do not criticise and in the other one we basically encouraged them to debate, even criticise the ideas of others. They thought that you know there would be no creativity, it would be like worse than no rules at all, and the reverse was the case when you permit debate even the system. You open that up there were more ideas and they were better quality ideas when you are welcome. This criticism and debate mammoth. Also, separated. The role of dissent, Injurie deliberations aside list to these tapes over and over and over and over again, clear, is that when there was a dissenting viewpoint, particularly when that persisted is at the nature, the deliberation was just too much better. They considered more evidence. They considered more ways of looking at the same, so called facts. They were, were inclined to look at. The downside is opposed to the upside for particular position in some
was espousing and evidenced all the things that really defined the decision making and, if need be, can hope you can train people are due in descent was doing that mammoth argues that dissent is valuable, The decision making process, even when the dissenter turns out to be demonstrably wrong even when it's wrong, it actually improves the quality of thought and decision. Making descent isn't important for the information that it gives its import because it challenges you are thinking when you're, interacting with someone who honestly believe something very different than yourself and their willing to persist and even pay a price can't easily dismiss them their chow. It gets you to reassess your own position.
Charlotte Mammoth has a name for this kind of dissenter troublemaker. Her most recent book is called in defence of troublemakers, a lot of the creatives we ve been interviewing for this series embrace the troublemaker title for some seems to be their animated principle. The chinese artist and activist. I way way he grew up in a labour camp. Family having been sent into exile because whose fathers poetry Way way has been one of his generations, most outspoken critics of China he's been arrested, beaten detained finally gained his own sort of exile and much more comfortable and then his father's. He now in Berlin, which is where we spoke with him. Always want to break the borders I knew I rehire you walk into could be dangerous, difficult areas. So in
Osborne like the sailor, someone cod Contrary dont want to follow the roof so much, you ve always been that way. Since I was born out of you see us some of the enemy of the people They say you are dangerous, see you're, someone who could happen potential tool to make big trouble. They were right there perfectly right, but I totally bob to that candy nations, do not justify the one. I did your brother. Is he a troublemaker like you were now no, nor was there often worried about one troublemaker you I am very familiar so, but when I asked a way about where his ideas come from, he didn't have much to say come to me one interview like this comes here:
I don't really think so much about it. Maybe that's because he's been dissenting syn She was a young child, it may be that trouble making and the aid yeah generation that comes along with it are by now second nature. There was another artist I visited in Berlin, her now as your invoked lying the windows live. So let's go that way. Booked is a star on the german art scene. Work, combines painting, drawing color and more, including musical and scientific notation for years she was a serious musician and she's got a mathematical streak to her pieces are breathtakingly original and engaging you should look it up? Her name is spelled J, o Our I m d ve. Oh, I e g t I want to know where her ideas originate. So I started by asking bout her daily routine.
Today I get up at five o clock in the morning. Then I for one, shall I sit in my kitchen and in my garden entering coffee and think about the day coming day. Then I wake up my son and help them getting up get dressed get right. First, how does it seven almost point? Seven thirty relief, the house, to school, and then try is down to the studio shortly before eight plugins. Do you so can we go back to our in the morning when you just sit and think about the day? Are you thinking about how to execute your ideas. Or are you trying to think about what ideas your work on now small its being awake, but
waiting for myself and observing myself and observing the pictures which come up in me and then also questioning their like ridden like that. It's like I get results from what I said. Picture other abstractions in my head. I wake up with it and then I have to find out, what it is and how which questions? I can ask how what kind of actions I could to find out what is so weird those images come from it can only guess. I think they're kind of language communication from the into is, I guess, do you think everyone could
such images, or do you feel that the talent of yours I haven't As always when it started that I haven't. I was very irritated and I thought something is wrong, but then, when you told me that just let it go, it's dont be afraid, then eyes, cysts accepted it and then it started to be really interesting. You really have to listen very strongly to those moments. That's the painter illustrator Myra Common He too relies on her subconscious for ideas. I think that place incredible role and it's a little bit inexplicable, it's kind of the instinct in intuition what you feeling your gut, let no He can explain that you don't know where it came from an idea of it here's from nowhere, while you're taking action.
Our or wandering down the street commons work, is on the surface whimsical. Old world ladys and plumed hats, clever dogs, knowing eyes, but beneath the Whimsie there a reservoir of deeper feeling coming upon stumbling upon things of emits a very big power. If my day in my work and my work, is autobiographical in its really about what happens to me and so I don't know, what's gonna happen during the day, but I am keenly aware that many things might happen and do happen that will like me and amaze me and enter into my work, whether it somebody that I see on the street or some kind of meeting of someone or the chance. Things? Will it sounds like you're too?
as they say, create your unlock you're, trying to create your own serendipity, which is a good way to be here, and I don't wanna try. So that sounds like a tricky balance to strike, though you wanna be open and observing curious, but you don't want to try too hard to be open. Durban. Now you can't do that. You'd, you you'd, know you'd fall down in and never get up again. You just have to kind of allow and it's gonna happen and then say that's great so my recalling gets her ideas from serendipitous encounters that she prepares herself to receive, but not too much preparation. You're in invoked gets her ideas from image the present themselves in the early morning, a region spoke with someone who needs to come up with multiple ideas. Every day, hello I'm Colonel Brian.
I am fear radically and entertainer. Among near entertainment products are what at the moment, I have a podcast Colonel Brian needs a friend, and I also just finished in eighteen city life- tour that healed, the nation and I have a programme on Tv S at eleven O Clock called Conan, don't ask me how I came up with the name. It was too long story. And I'd involves narcissism Ryan, has been hosting a late night show since the early nineteen nineties before that He was a comedy writer for the Simpson and one season on Saturday night live in every case. There a writers room, a bunch of peace, throwing around ideas
shooting down most of them building up the good ones coming up with ideas is a job really. It is the job like all jobs get a little routine, but lately o Brien spin stretching himself with a travel series called Conan without borders There is a period of time when President Obama was in Gideon you know friendly relations with Cuba and. We saw this opportunity to jump in there and I don't think so. Night host had been to Cuba since Jack PAR and her head writer MIKE Sweeney, said in a wood. If we went Cuba and the minute. I, when I do you're a good idea. I had some success, it intuitive. Yes, no Hey, let's go, but let's go right now So we went with very little preparation. I guess that's Jesus on the left is yes,
Hey SAM, stricter, and you know this would this month Jesus Christ- and this is Crow Mars. So don't think March was a big really. I think what you can see there is me really in the act: SK, covering things discovering this place. I'd never been two before discovering these people as a comedian, I'm from funniest swam reacting in the moment and that's where I most comfortable. I liked the kind of now not know. What's going to go on, and so it's this crazy and Yang of my career, where am I I am very sorry brow and started my career as a writer, but I really what I probably love most is being out of control and unprepared. And so when you go to a foreign country, are often forced into situations where you can't really know. What's going to happen,
I think, as a comedian and his personality, I have a lot of humility and its well earned some comics. They come from, a place of high status, so they they're telling us and lecturing us about what the right way to think is and I've. I think I'm come from the opposite side. Things which is I like to be, situations where I'm not in the power position and where the other person, has the authority. So fine in Cuba, and I'm literally in a factory where they re cigars all day? I will. With one of the women and she will try and teach me an Albion competent and she gets the law You know she's in the high status position and its not in my
only to want to go to countries and laughed at them. So cunning, o Brien gets fresh ideas by going to Cuba or Israel or Haiti. The musician and writer Roseanne Cash sometimes gets her ideas in museums. Problems can be inspiring like a fake, work something out my life. I take it too languid to know I take it to melody, sometimes well? It all came you know, going to the men and standing in front of that painting of Joan of ARC. That's that painting is inspired me. Sometimes they come out of nowhere. You think, and then it turns out that they came from the future and I call those songs, Post from the future, can we have an example, my son, black cadillac
can I wrote the sign it was about a few. Death and as soon as I wrote it, I said to myself: no like, and I knew I wrote it in March and my Tat mother died in May and then my dad died in September. Her dad what the country, music, legend, Johnny Cash. Actually, before my dad I'd that year I wrote a song called September when it comes to the lyrics, then then he died in September, certain and There have been other times seeing the impressions or that's it. Some a new age. You know peak into the future, but I have always thought that creative
It happens in a non linear way Activity is out of moving parts, and you dont necessarily go from aid being a direct line. You might go to Asian Z first and then come back What I love about washing baseball is that I get a lot of ideas for fiction while doing at that's the novelist Jennifer Egon. She want to Pulitzer Prize for her book. A visit from the goon squad, sharp spiky novel with multiple narrators and which absolutely nothing to do with baseball, but Egon has kids. So she started going to baseball we were just at the Beloit snapper as last week. Baseball is he's just reading actually, but you know about how there's this wish to speed up baseball, which I think is I mean in my house.
Oh, very uneducated, opinion a terrible idea, because the whole point of baseball is that its slow and its great people. Why Jane watching baseball all over the country? You know just watching the people What are the Ganz is totally fascinating. Just to be clear, baseball is not even the only source of ideas for her right I try to imbibe material that feels interesting to me and then I'm sort of costing too some unconscious part of me, too spawned to that in a way that will hopefully be fresh. So I guess I'm sure trusting to both my unconscious in the sense of just leading me to restore a leading me through characters first and then a story, and then MIKE, just mind to recognise what feels familiar and what does it the way?
think about the relationship of my work. To that other work is as as a conversation, Zadig. Okay. This book is in conversation with these other books, visitant goons God, looking back as early in a conversation with certain in search of lost time. Also civilized television like the sopranos, which had a big impact on me, Anne and frankly, concept problems that I grew up on, like Quadrille, Fania Zackie Stardust mean beautiful stories, told in pieces that sounded very different from each other, so there are all kinds of things that work can be in conversation with an end should be really. But ultimately you know she repetition is not only not desirable. It is absolutely the thing that I I can't tolerate for myself: people watching it Minor League, baseball games, museum visits or putting yours,
strange surroundings, all sorts of ways to generate ideas or less ideas. Come to you. Or maybe you like to ask the really big questions like what is the underlying geometry of the universe? That's what got the astrophysicist Margaret Geller going? The same sort of question can also work for a poet I am Tracy. Casement Smith is the current poet laureate of the United States. Her father was an optical engineer who worked on the Hubble space telescope. Myths best known poetry, collection is called life on Mars and usually have a large. I mean a partake the question in mind. Maybe it isn't like what is the answer to this thing, but why do we do this to one? why is it so hard to really love another person,
not just strangers, but the people we love. Why is it so hard to keep loving them? Sometimes? Why is it so hard to? You know those kinds of course and you can get an answer to that, but I can certainly site you. Are you in motion and then The way I often tend to write to sort of speculate like what f My book life on Mars is really just a bunch of hypothetical questions. What if the universe is like this? What if it's like that, I found it appointing those questions back down to earth can be useful and thinking about, like the real world, the social or the political world I was the one, those kids who just always want to know how the world worked, the owners manual? What your house's whole operation happen that sole pearl mutter, who also wanted to ask big questions, and I guess the places that looks like they were asking these kinds of questions. Word physics
philosophy, and so I can beginning. I always thought I might study the two of them until I discovered, of course, that either one of them would take up all your time and which did he choose. I'm a professor of physics and I study Cosmo promoter is at the University of California Berkeley and the Lorens Berkeley National LAB into them. Eleven, he won the Nobel Prize for helping to discover Contra the belief of earlier physicists that the universe is exe, ending at an accelerating rate, one possible explanation for this: acceleration dark energy, a largely unknown force that may make up seventy percent of the euro
and this is meaningful to know why. So this is one is really weird aspects, I think, of basic science, that almost every time we ve learned something really deep about how the world works. Its ended up not only providing us with your huge philosophical, your satisfaction but which some are makes us more capable week. We can build do things differently as we learn these. Odd ways in which the world is actually building. Instructed me a good example of this is on. Stands there go about ITALY, it was talking about things like near what happens when clocks travel near the speed of light mean we're never gonna
one of our clock what we started. We know we're not having a clock Newt near the speed of light, and it seems like that these were the most abstract concepts that you could have been working with, and yet you, every cell phone pocket that uses GPS. All those measures have been corrected by what we learned minds thanks to relatively because of those explorations, and you could never have guessed it right now. We cannot think of anything that dark energy use is likely to to affect, except our poetic vision of the world. Doesn't I mean first especially for someone who started out thinking studying philosophy. I'm just curious whether that fact alone that that dark energy comprises you say, roughly seventy percent of our universe, and we have no idea what it is, isn't that it does at present you with a bit of em, if not an existential d
Emma at least a kind of mind, scrambling question that is it a little unsatisfying to go to bed every night, not, and that is what They didn't bother me until you told me cuz, I didn't know anything about it, but now I feel like wait, a minute. Seventy percent. We really don't know- and you actually know this stuff, so I'm curious whether it weighs on you in some way. I mean weirdly enough. I think for me, it's it's one of the real pleasures of life on the idea that there are huge unknown for us to to explore a lot of what you wouldn't cosmology is, is mind boggling in and you have to enjoy. Having your mind completely buckled here that just the idea of imagining infinite space is already saying that I think we just during her time. Getting your heads around and and then having an infinite space expand so that no it's not,
its expanding into anything. It's just that there is more distance between everything in that space, and that is our too, and for some of us, that's just your scary. Feeling too, I have what, when my siblings doesn't like in think about this stuff just gives her the Willie's, whereas for it for me, I just find there is a real pleasure in feeling, like us, puny humans, working with. The bit of the senses that we have and living in this are you happy medium somewhere in between the huge and the really really microscopically? At your end, subatomic tiny have been able to use. Are those senses to figure out stuff? That's happening on this jack we take as a big scale and in this way, because we tiny scale and that the two everything to do with each other I just if it makes it feel like. We were right in the mix in the thick of things that we were that we were there we're going to play with the universe. I'm convinced that I love way of looking at it because you re there is. There is a kind of fun
Actually a downside of that union us, but the way you have expressed it it You know we're punching way above our weight by being able even ponder, what's going on so many dimensions and beyond so that's encouraging. I was encouraged by Sol promoters ability to somehow blend incomprehensibly vast and the income, principally tiny into some sort of porridge that feels just right. So inspired by something else, he talked about his willingness to his mind, boggles, that's his route to coming up with creative ideas as we heard today. There are many rounds asking big questions sure, but also paying attention to the tiny serendipitous details in your world. Keeping in Europe the dissenting voice in some I was being that voice figuring out,
how the limits that are placed on you might actually free up your creative thinking. All of these are good ideas for generating- I guess, there's no formula but As we noted earlier, the idea is just the beginning, and so coming up next time on for economics, radio, It's not as though you have an idea to Morrow New rights paper and use of it. The journal, and it's done that's the key fingers invention just invention, sea and then there's problem solving, where you invent something to solve real problem and I think that a lot of is really drudgery, I'm the kind of inventor that's looking to make. What a lot of time. We have in this world better and so execution has always.
Been part of it after the idea, the execution it's coming up next time, as we continue how to be creative series talk to them. Economics, radio is produced by sticker in Dublin productions. This episode was produced by Matt Fresco with help from Stephanie Tam and Harry Huggins I have also includes Allison Craig Low Gregg, Ribbon Encyclopedia ski theme song is Mr Fortune hitchhikers. The rest of our music was complete by Luis Gara you can subscribe to economics, radio and apple podcast, or every get your punk ass, the entire archive available on the stitched up or economics that calm we also publish transcripts, show knows if you want the entire archive ad free for such a bonus, episodes go to stick your premium dot com
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Transcript generated on 2021-01-19.