so i finished this book a couple of weeks ago. i read a review of it somewhere, i don't remember exactly where, but i thought i would like it. i'm interested in how the mind works, as mine often seems such a mystery to me. aha moments and all. i've read other books on thinking and drawing and memory and i almost always seem to come away with something, at least temporarily. usually temporarily. but i have acquired a personal design library. a lot of the good stuff i like is in there and i think i'll add this one to it. i asked the librarian to buy it, which she was kind enough to do, but she also asked me to write a review of it, which this kind of will be. i'm sure it's more than she's looking for, but the book was more than i was looking for too ... anyway, you can see from my postits (there's a section on inventing them in here) that i thought some of it was important. i go to the library on saturdays and i'm late with it. i spent a half hour reviewing my postits, and now, here i am writing. i'm trying to hit the highlights. click the images to enlarge them ...
hold it up over your head when you need it ...
early on he talks about dylan and how he wrote like a rolling stone. well, actually in an interview with ed bradley that i was lucky enough to see when it ran, (you can see it here), dylan says he 'didn't actually write it'. it was a bit of 'penetrating magic', or as mr. lehrer says, it was like a ghost writing that song.
in the 60 ,minutes interview, bradley asks bob about that and can he still write like that? dylan famously responds something like 'you can't do something forever; i did it once, and i can do other stuff now, but i can't do that.' ... insight, inspiration, the creative process; always a mystery to me, even after this book.
next we spend some time with milton glaser, a titan in the world of graphic design, who discusses drawing and thinking and the fact that 'art is work'. amen. he also hits on the subject of 'drawing as thinking', a concept dear to my heart .. i wrote about that myself in 2009.
but then next, we have to think about stuff to get creative ... kind of absorb it all, let it rattle around in the brain and let the subconscious (right side of the brain) blend it all together for you and spit it out, someitmes fully formed, or not. that's where the work comes in.
and then, we talk with more musicians like yo yo ma, the cellist and brief discussion of emotion, and performance, grounded in acquired skills and then the risk of creativity, the casting aside of perfection, which brings to mind a couple of our favorite phrases 'perfectly executed' as in dead. 'the perfect is the enemy of the good' ,,, stuff like that. from there mr lehrer goes on to pixar and 'toy story', 3m and postits, a visit with david byrne and a discussion about 'letting other stuff in' as an inspiration. this guy is rangy ... i loved it .
and towards the end, he reinforces one of my main touchstones, the sharing of ideas. in our shop, we have the phrase 'all of us are smarter than one of us', and here lehrer reinforces that truth ... i could go on and on, and i have, but i think personally, for me, this is an important book. other people will disagree, and i have read at least one fairly critical review. fortunately, a book is different for everyone; maybe it will work for you, maybe it's not your cup of tea. try and get it from your library first ...
i leave you with two last thoughts