I went out into the garden this morning with a scissors. I clipped some leaves off a winter cherry, an acer, a butterfly bush, a willow and a wisteria. It’s autumn and the chlorophyll has been breaking down for weeks. The greens have been shifting to the shorter spectral wavelengths of yellow, orange and red as their hosts conserve energy for the winter. And it’s this process of energy conservation that creates the splendid autumn scenes that rival the flowering of spring. I blotted and pressed the leaves dry and flat before making arrangements on the scanner bed.
Here are some quotations I think worth a thought or three.
‘Memory is how we transmit virtues and values, and partake of a shared culture.’
‘If the essence of creativity is linking disparate facts and ideas, then the more facility you have making associations, and the more facts and ideas you have at your disposal, the better you’ll be at coming up with new ideas.’
‘Where do new ideas come from if not some alchemical blending of old ideas? In order to invent, one first and needed a proper inventory, a bank of existing ideas to draw on.’
All three quotes are from Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer. I’ve mentioned Foer previously and you may recall he was US Memory Champion in 2006. And here’s a review by way of background.
All three of these quotes mean something to me because in one way or another, these concepts are recurring threads in many of my posts in this series of journals.
I read to learn and like most, I forget so much of what I learn. But there is some essence of what I have read and learned that stays with me.
I worked with a man who kept track of football results. He was focussed on just one team. He was probably that team’s biggest fan. Having met this fan, a form of supporter I had never known before, I wondered how many more people there were who did what he did. I tested him one day, partly because he invited me to ask a question, partly because it was the only way to find out to what level he’d taken this obsession. His response staggered me. I realised that he was happy to be tested because in answering me, he could show me how he did it. Over five decades of carefully curated informations and statistics were summarised in a massive spreadsheet that he was visibly pleased to share with me.
‘So who won that first game at home after the 1966 world cup?’ I asked thinking it was a reasonably clever and hopefully challenging question.
I learned that first home game was played on a wet Saturday, that day fifty years ago. Coincidentally, the home striker was on loan from the visiting club and he scored against his former team mates. The decisive goal came mid-way through the second half. And that was it, the home team won 1-0. My colleague had been at the game with his father. And then the story got a bit weirder.
He remembered the anorak he wore that day and how he got soaked in the unseasonably heavy rain. I could only doubt his tale for a few minutes because that’s how long it took for him to open up a spreadsheet which confirmed what he’d just told me. I found it interesting to partake a share of this culture.
[And on the off chance the unnamed fan might find his way to this post, let me remind him that my curve of forgetting may have degraded some of the details – after all, this conversation took place over three years ago. Perhaps what I’m remembering wasn’t an anorak.]
I see the Prime Minister of Slovakia said that he had a good idea recently. It seems that he personally decided to test the whole country for Covid. The Financial Times quotes him as saying ‘[When] I came up with the idea of mass testing . . . all sorts of opinions emerged, that this was complete stupidity and would only make the situation worse’. So where do new ideas come if you are a Prime Minister?
These were some of things on my mind today.
Caveat emptor: my musings may not be complete let alone correct.
Lia Mills says
Mnemosyne, the Goddess of Memory in Greek mythology, is the mother of the nine muses. Their father is Zeus, whose signature weapon is the lightning bolt.
I often think that creative inspiration is like that: sudden flashes of memory illuminate an idea, and off we go …
Peter Whiting says
Your leaf art is stunning. Please do more of this!