The classic study of the creative process from the national best-selling author of Flow, Creativity is about capturing those moments that make life worth living. Legendary psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi reveals what leads to these moments - be it the excitement of the artist at the easel or the scientist in the lab - so that this knowledge can be used to enrich people's lives. Drawing on nearly 100 interviews with exceptional people, from biologists and physicists, to politicians and business leaders, to poets and artists, as well as his 30 years of research on the subject, Csikszentmihalyi uses his famous flow theory to explore the creative process. He discusses such ideas as why creative individuals are often seen as selfish and arrogant, and why the "tortured genius" is largely a myth. Most important, he explains why creativity needs to be cultivated and is necessary for the future of our country, if not the world.
©2013 Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (P)2015 Gildan Media LLC
The author hedges most of his observations due to the anecdotal nature of his research, to the point he never actually commits to really knowing anything from his research. The words likely, probably, and possibly are too frequently used, such that I feel he has not earned the latitude he claims for himself when he states his opinions and worldviews as truisms.
This might have been fine had his work been graced by a sustained attempt to support his assertions with well developed arguments contrasted against alternative perspectives, but he did not offer these; he engages in intellectual shadow boxing, conflating marketability and craftsmanship with creativity. By tying creativity to domain; a child could never be "creative" by his definition as he can't master a craft or amass knowledge such that his efforts can be recognized as such. But this is not consistent with what most of us see, and mean when we use this word.
For me then, his definition and treatment of creativity and invention is stilted and tendentious, substituting one enigmatic definition of creativity for another. The anecdotal evidence presented was interesting, but the conclusions drawn from them did not illuminate the subject of creativity for me as I hoped it would.
This book from the psychologist who coined the term "flow" focuses on what differentiates extraordinarily creative people. In this book he does a wonderful job of discussing how a domain and the field devoted to that domain impact the creative people in that field. He also brings out lots of great insights from his studies of extraordinarily creative people and touches on what it takes to develop the meta-skill of being able to turn almost any activity into an occasion of flow.
It's great material for anyone who fosters creativity in others or for people looking to better understand and harness their own creativity.
The author is smart. He has good ideas. The book is long and wonderful. I loved it all. Perhaps the beginning I liked the least, but overall I got a lot out of it. Evolution and humanism are mentioned a lot, and this might bother some. But I think there is a lot of good take-away, and the narrator does a fine job.
I thought I knew a lot about creativity but this opened my eyes to a lot of things I do that I wasn't aware of. It was fun! You'll enjoy this book if friends have described you as creative.
It also broadened my mind to the "domain of global responsibility" in chapter 12, how certain acclaimed creative individuals take it upon themselves to oversee what the implications of human innovation has on the planet, and to look out for the common good (instead of profit or progress, which is what governs the implications of innovations by default.)
Humanity's future, for better or for worse, rests in our creativity. This was such a fascinating concept that alone makes me happy I read this book.
The interview monologues from successful creatives were also very enjoyable to listen to. The book was well structured, and the narration was smooth and clear.
Practical, compelling listening if you're interested in developing your own creativity and others'. Highly recommended
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