As someone who often has many projects on the go, and many of them with a comedy focus, I am always intrigued by the idea of creativity. I have spent countless hours starring at blank screens and blank pieces of paper hoping for an idea to hit me. I’ve thrown notebook after notebook away thinking perhaps that was the problem.
I have watched and read a variety of different tips, lectures and guides to being creative but the one I always go back to is the one given by John Cleese.
I think the most significant thing identified in the lecture is the distinction between the two modes of thinking. Open Mode and Closed Mode. The Closed mode, Cleese identifies as the standard way of operating in the western world. It is results focused, driven by efficiency, the problem with this for creativity is it doesn’t give ideas any room to breath and come to life. If you are working under pressure with a strict result in mind you’re unlikely to produce something creative. Creativity relies on the being unique and original, where as results and efficiency relies on doing now without time to create something out of the ordinary.
Alternatively, the Open Mode is a more playful and free mode of thinking, it is about being comfortable with a lack of answers, rather than being results driven, the open mind preferences ideas for ideas sake and allows our imaginations to run wild. This in turn allows us the space to create.
The open and closed modes of thinking link well are reminiscent of some of the writings of French philosopher Jean Baudrillard. Baudrillard was a post-modern philosopher who advocated pataphysics. Most importantly in regards to creativity Baudrillard juxtaposed the ideas of production and seduction. Production for Baudrillard seems to be what Cleese is referring to as the ‘closed mode’ it is a world based on producing things, in this school of ideas everything is a means to an end it is results based. Baudrillard’s preference was for seduction, which was a playful reconstruction of reality in the way in which one felt one would get the most enjoyment.
It seems that far from being motivating pressure and stress are roadblock to creativity. If one wants to truly get creativity, then one must be willing to give that creativity time, to be willing to make mistakes, and in fact a step further, one must not be judging the activity as a means to an end. Nothing when being created should be treated as a mistake, the exercise of exploring the ideas is what is important as a self-sustaining exercise. If this is done enough then creativity should in theory follow.