mercredi 7 octobre 2009

Disorientation begets creative thinking?

New research by professors of psychology at the University of California and the University of British Columbia shows how nonsense sharpens the intellect:

the new research supports what many experimental artists, habitual travelers and other novel seekers have always insisted: at least some of the time, disorientation begets creative thinking.

The disoriented sensation may prime the brain to sense patterns it would otherwise miss — in mathematical equations, in language, in the world at large.

The brain evolved to predict, and it does so by identifying patterns. When those patterns break down — as when a hiker stumbles across an easy chair sitting deep in the woods, as if dropped from the sky — the brain gropes for something, anything that makes sense. It may retreat to a familiar ritual, like checking equipment. But it may also turn its attention outward, the researchers argue, and notice, say, a pattern in animal tracks that was previously hidden. The urge to find a coherent pattern makes it more likely that the brain will find one.

-       from the NYTimes, October 6, 2009.

Does this mean that reading Lewis Carroll or Shel Silverstein can really sharpen my intellect? Or maybe reading difficult material, like philosophical Antoine Berman or (worse!) Derrida texts, which completely disorient me, could be helpful after all?

Are we disoriented when we skydive? Could we say that the brain might grasp at patterns that make sense after seeing/doing something that doesnt make sense (jumping out of an airplane, into the sky, thousands of feet above the ground) and this is what makes us sharper during (after?) a skydive?

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