Reposting an old quote sent by my friend Murali which had got buried amidst another old post and felt it deserved a space of its own…

I used to think that the creative imagination was something mysterious and intangible, which could neither be described nor trained. While there may always be something elusive about artistic creation, some thinking by people like Liam Hudson and Daniel Dennett gave me some cause to hope. Creativity is not a simple product of unfathomable inspiration, but a result of firstly, generating lots of (mostly junky) ideas, and then weeding them out to discover the ones that work. If this is true of the expressive arts, then it surely also applies to chess, where the ideas have such concrete prompts on the board, and the selection of the ideas that work can be put to the simple test of analysis.

Put simply, this suggests that someone like Tal can come up with great ideas because they come up with loads of ideas, good, bad and indifferent, and then can select the great one. The problem with most of us is not that we are failing to come up with enough good ideas, but we are failing to come up with enough ideas, full stop. Our ability to spot combinations is limited by our tunnel vision, considering only a few moves of a stereotyped nature, and not having the habit of looking at every thing once, no matter how foolish at first sight. Developing imagination, then, is not a matter of learning how to do something terribly magical, but to some extent involves putting aside what you think you know (retreating pieces is bad, putting your Queen en prise is bad) and considering moves that only very good players – or very bad players! – look at.


6 Responses to “imagination”

  1. Prashanth shivanna Says:

    Hi sanjay,

    Nice explanation, I am also a person interested in knowing about creativity.
    In the first paragraph, you have written, creativity means generating ideas.
    it idea means any data right? or productive data?

    In second paragraph, you written,
    “The problem with most of us is not that we are failing to come up with enough good ideas, but we are failing to come up with enough ideas”

    good ideas and ideas? Here good ideas means something helpful to society??

    I have been collecting data on creativity, as i am very much curious to know about what, why how of this creativity.


  2. msanjay Says:

    Hi Prashanth, explanation source is unknown, I didn’t write it – but anyway yes as you said Creativity means generating any ideas productive or not. It means that we do not evaluate ideas right away! We simply keep our mind open, to allow different ideas to come up. No judgement, just free thinking 🙂 Often some ‘bad’/impractical idea may actually provide a hint for a good one later on, but if we reject the bad idea straightaway, we stop the flow of ideas 🙂

    Another point is if we work on things we really love, it is bound to eventually end up being helpful to society. I believe its important that rather than try to be helpful to society as an aim, its much better and of higher quality if that contribution happens as a natural by-product of doing something we’re enjoying. Of course, its just an idea 😉

  3. msanjay Says:

    PS: Would recommend reading the chapter The Dignified Professor, from the book “Surely you are joking Mr. Feynman” by the physicist Richard Feynman.

  4. Prashanth Shivanna Says:

    Well, thanks for the book details.

    and what do you mean by free thinking, I have heard about it many a time. but need more information to understand.

  5. Sanjay M Says:

    free thinking is effortless thinking, there’s no hesitation but its just spontaneous!

  6. mohan Says:

    Most creative types i have seen have unkepmpt hair, vauge dress combinations…. are they really necessary?

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