Neuroscience and Destination ImagiNation

I just finished reading an amazing book by Jonah Lehrer called Proust was a Neuroscientist. In it, Lehrer explains how writers, musicians, artists and chefs knew things about how the brain worked more than 100 years before modern neuroscientists made their discoveries. His explorations of the work of Proust, Stravinsky, Cezanne and others is quite fascinating when he compares what they were trying to do with what we are learning now about how the brain works. In his final comments he speaks about the importance for the disparate worlds of science and the arts to recognize what they have to offer each other. He writes “we now know enough to know that we will never know everything. This is why we need art: it teaches us how to live with mystery.” For someone like me, who has always been fascinated by science but in love with the mystery, this book was incredibly inspiring.

So inspiring in fact, that I immediately went to his website Frontal Cortex/Wired Science and today’s post speaks to the importance of constraints when you need to get creative. As a songwriter, I know this to be true. I work with a group of songwriters who set monthly goals (constraints) for ourselves to assist in coming up with original music. Some of my most innovate and creative pieces have come from working with this group of writers. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think about how our use of Destination ImagiNation does both things he says are important: the merging of the arts and sciences as well as the introduction of constraints or obstacles in assisting us in thinking in a more all-encompassing way. Sometimes Destination ImagiNation feels so basic when we’re building captivators (weight bearing structures) with balsa wood or designing movie trailers with cinematic effects, but our brains are being challenged to let art and science work together in over-coming the obstacles.

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