Creativity & the Wisdom of John Cleese

I grew up on Monty Python.  One of our family favorite tapes was Monty Python’s best of collection.  I remember many trips in the station wagon when we would all be laughing, laughing, laughing to it.  I think my brother & I could say the “Dead Parrot” sketch from memory at one point.  But I would never think of John Cleese as a source of wisdom.  However, when my artist friend Suzy Ally sent around a link to a video from Cleese speaking on creativity I was more than intrigued.    You can see the whole video and her notes on the link above, but here are some of the main points:


There are two modes: open and closed. Both are necessary in life and creativity.

Get yourself into play mode which is open mode.

Be curious. Sometimes you are working too hard. Relax and it will come.

The process of creativity begins in open mode and goes to closed mode to carry it out.

You can get distracted by doubts.

Open, play, be curious, explore, then go to closed, review feedback, then go back to open. Cycle thru several times to the end.

Step back and contemplate the wider view.

These thoughts really touched me; I think of myself as a great appreciator of all the arts.  Jazz Concert where?  New art exhibit-sure!  But I don’t think of myself as a very creative person.  With my children I do want them to have every opportunity to be creative.  Warren Berger’s book  “CAD Monkeys, Dinosaur Babies, & T-shaped people” says much the same thing.  The book focuses on the hows & whys of transformational design.  Design that solves problems. He states that people-and especially children-need space to be creative.  That the great designers of the world ask the “stupid” questions.  The questions needed to think in ways that are not rigid and therefore allow new thoughts to come in.  And in those new thoughts are new solutions to everyday problems.  I don’t expect my children to save the world, but I do want them to be open to possibility and all the arts of possibility.


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