Why are we starting to talk about a Kerouac Center for Creativity in Lowell? Aside from the facts that Lowell was founded by inventors and entrepreneurs, that the city is a contemporary hub of the creative economy, and that higher education institutions like UMass Lowell and Middlesex Community College demonstrate the positive results of innovation and imagination (creativity by other names), see what others are saying about the importance of creativity.—PM
We live in an age when the most valuable asset any economy can have is the ability to be creative — to spark and imagine new ideas, be they Broadway tunes, great books, iPads or new cancer drugs. And where does creativity come from?
I like the way Newsweek described it in a recent essay on creativity: “To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).”
And where does divergent thinking come from? It comes from being exposed to divergent ideas and cultures and people and intellectual disciplines. As Marc Tucker, the president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, once put it to me: “One thing we know about creativity is that it typically occurs when people who have mastered two or more quite different fields use the framework in one to think afresh about the other. Intuitively, you know this is true. Leonardo da Vinci was a great artist, scientist and inventor, and each specialty nourished the other. He was a great lateral thinker. But if you spend your whole life in one silo, you will never have either the knowledge or mental agility to do the synthesis, connect the dots, which is usually where the next great breakthrough is found.”
—Thomas L. Friedman, NYT, today
“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties. … Conditions for creativity are to be puzzled; to concentrate; to accept conflict and tension; to be born every day; to feel a sense of self.”
—Erich Fromm (German-born American social philosopher and psychoanalyst, 1900-1980)