Where do new ideas come from?
What does it mean to be a creative thinker?
After you’ve had one good idea, how do you have another one?
What does it take to remain creative throughout one’s lifetime?
We live in a time of such extraordinary change and yet we know virtually nothing about what goes into “changing one’s mind.” The gadgets that surround us change, the ways we fight wars and fund political campaigns and shop all change, but this doesn’t automatically or necessarily change the way we think or what we think.
Marshall McLuhan famously described how, as we drive into the future, it is as if all we can see before us is what is in the rearview mirror. We are moving into the future, but all we can see is the past. McLuhan had a cumbersome phrase for this phenomenon: “rearview mirrorism.” Contemporary examples of rearview mirrorism are: thinking of the laptop computer as a version of the portable typewriter, the smartphone as a version of the telephone, the war in Iraq as a version of the Vietnam War.
How do you guard against this readily understandable tendency to live and work in the past? How do you escape the trap of the familiar, the commonplace, the readily known and verified?
These are the questions that are behind my decision to launch the Time with a Creative Mind project. The podcasts and vodcasts you’ll find here present the best moments of freewheeling conversations with writers, composers, artists, and scholars about how they’ve managed to remain curious and creative over the course of a lifetime. I’m grateful to my interlocutors for giving so freely of their time and for their willingness to discuss their own ways of returning again and again to confront the unknown.
A word on the podcasts. I am fortunate to have had Nick West take over as the sound engineer on this project, which had foundered for years as a result of significant budget cuts. Nick has worked tirelessly to produce podcasts that reward multiple playings and that have been edited to highlight to most valuable advice our interlocutors have had to offer.
We’re continuing to learn about how to improve the quality of the recordings. We welcome feedback and suggestions.
Thanks for listening.
Richard E. Miller