Welcome to Emerging Futures -- Vol 9! Creativity Unmasked...
Let's begin with An interview with the Ocean...
So, you wake up and feel like cooking an egg. The sun is shining and the windows are open. The morning is cold and the cat wants to be fed. There is much to do today and the knees are already radiating a subtle pain into your awareness. The floors are cold and enlivening as you make coffee and feed the cat.
Despite everything that needs to be done, this morning it came over you:
I’m going to make eggs for breakfast.
Perhaps it was while dashing to the bathroom to pee, or washing your hands — something with water? Who knows. Now the feeling is there: Boiled Eggs for breakfast.
It's not really an idea, there is no big vision or grand plan. It’s just a sense you are feeling.
You’re not much of a cook. Toast, boiled eggs, salads, rice, quinoa, and these days heating up Trader Joe's plastic bags of stuff.
Mornings are too busy to think about cooking. You need to hit send on that sales proposal before the kids wake up, get them out the door then dash to the office for another zoom meeting.
As you grab eggs from the fridge in a well formed smooth habit and put the pot under the faucet a memory surfaces:
The last time I boiled an egg it cracked and some of the white seeped out and cooked floating in the water…
You fill the pot with water, add salt
What was that?
It’s all one long movement unfolding — opening, grabbing, filling and setting on the stove
The sense accompanying it starts to evolve
...That was something -
You feel this provocation as you reach for the eggs
There’s a shrug in you body
Your face makes an expression
The water comes to a boil
It’s barely there but as you reach for the first egg
Let's crack the eggs first:
You crack an egg tentatively into the water
Your hands seem to be telling you
It's going to be better than having to peel them later...
But you sense it's not looking good: the egg is going everywhere and dissolving into thousands of strands
Shit the bubbles are messing this up!
As you look and sense, you instinctively reach and turn down the fire
Ok, that was a mistake. Let's try putting the second egg in ...slower...
In your body's reaction you’re sensing directly: you need help
Your arm sweeps the counter with your eyes:
The coffee cup!
That feels right
It’s all happening very fast
You take the last gulp and crack an egg into the cup
Now there’s less of a plan — the feeling is:
Let's make it work
Even before that, it's underway
The cup and your hand lower to the water's edge, its hot -
Maybe it should go below the surface?
The egg gently releases from the semi-submerged cup into the water at the very cusp of boiling
You bend closer, your senses alive to the changes
Your body slows down and you sense time expanding as your focus shrinks your field of awareness
It’s as if the moment is saying:
Lets see what happens
Meanwhile, the egg is moving from liquid to jelly like
This change is triggering something in you:
Ha! I have a jellyfish!
A smile creases your face as experiences connect: beaches and kitchens
There is a sense of recognition and a vague concepts emerges
I have discovered a jelly-fish egg!
You peer down
It’s hard to tell -
I have to poke it and
Your back pulls you upright and arm and eyes reach around
It’s already in your hand
The sugar spoon, excellent!
Poking, it responds with an almost solid feelingness...
The spoon on its own finds a way to coax the jelly fish to the edge of the pot and drag it up
It’s on the floor
A shake of salt
Huh!?! That's kind of interesting
In your mouth you feel that it is almost soft and almost rubbery. This sense provokes you…
What if tomorrow I cook my jellyfish eggs - less?
Or lower temperature?
What else could I try?
What if I cook it in my coffee?
Fuck that’s stupid
Wait till I tell the kids about this approach and how eggs can give us jellyfish eggs!
Fast forward. A few weeks later. You are serving your egg dish to friends (who never eat eggs ever):
“This is really great — how did you come up with the idea?” They ask.
“Oh, you know, one morning I was in a rush and I had this idea: what if I crack the eggs first and softly boil them? So I tried it, it worked, and jellyfish eggs were invented!”
“That's so cool, you always have these great creative ideas. I wish I was creative but I never have any ideas”
It’s just a story, but we’re pretty sure you recognize this experience. This is a humble and modest everyday moment of creativity (and obviously poached eggs exist, but there was a first time…).
This week we have been looking at (1) how reality is creative, and (2) how this is the source of human creativity.
To understand the what, where and how of creativity, there are a few things to consider. Let's start with the background context of the story:
1. We are radically EMBODIED beings:
2. The world is SPONTANEOUSLY CREATIVE:
3. Our Embodied actions arise in a direct connection and continuum with the environment's self-organizing activity. How?
4. Ideas come late:
5. We can hack the emergence-creativity process:
To shift from our classical notions of concept driven, and human centered creativity it’s helpful to do a rigorous and deep-dive into Complexity Theory (it is often also referred to as “Complex Adaptive Systems.”)
A good starting point is to take a look at the article we posted this week on Linkedin: Reality is Creative – then dive deeply into the topic. At the end of this newsletter we suggest a number of sources. A great source that connects both the Enactive Approach and Complexity Science is Evan Thompson’s Mind in Life. However you dig in, these terms are the best places to start:
If you have resources and developing concepts on these topics – please share with us!
This week we shared a couple of helpful videos. The first is short and gives you a great sense of the spontaneous self-organizing powers all around us (if you only have one minute go to minute 2:30) - Phase Transition & Creativity.
The second is a full lecture laying out Deleuze’s vision of a more-than-human creativity. It is quite inspiring and easy to listen to as a podcast (If you only have five minutes start at 33:10) - Deleuze & Creativity.
If the lecture on the french philosopher of creativity Gilles Deleuze gets you intrigued -- we recommend starting with the book he co-authored with Felix Guattari: A Thousand Plateaus (here you will find the answer to why god is a lobster). It is by far one of our favorite books (our copies are mangled and patched back together).
Manuel DeLanda, who is giving the lectures, is a really interesting thinker. We would suggest starting with his recent book: Assemblage Theory.
Other useful books to think about self-organization:
If you are interested in how all of this plays out in terms of the emergence of life and evolution, we would recommend watching this lecture by Terrance Deacon.
See them more clearly:
Enjoy the weekend, and please, be in touch -- we remain inspired by all of you!
📚 P.S.: Want to go deeper down the rabbit hole? Check out our book Innovating Emergent Futures
❤️🔥 P.P.S.: Love this newsletter? A referral is the highest form of compliment – please forward to colleagues, collaborators, partners, rebels, and co-conspirators…
🙈 P.P.P.S: The second highest compliment is feedback. Love this? Hate it? Please reply and let us know…