Category Archives: Creativity

Why computers will never write good novels

Angus Fletcher writes: You’ve been hoaxed. The hoax seems harmless enough. A few thousand AI researchers have claimed that computers can read and write literature. They’ve alleged that algorithms can unearth the secret formulas of fiction and film. That Bayesian software can map the plots of memoirs and comic books. That digital brains can pen… Read More »

What time feels like when you’re improvising

Heather Berlin writes: Don’t look at the clock! Now tell me: How much time has passed since you first logged on to your computer today? Time may be a property of physics, but it is also a property of the mind, which ultimately makes it a product of the brain. Time measures out and shapes… Read More »

Why walking helps us think

Ferris Jabr writes: In Vogue’s 1969 Christmas issue, Vladimir Nabokov offered some advice for teaching James Joyce’s “Ulysses”: “Instead of perpetuating the pretentious nonsense of Homeric, chromatic, and visceral chapter headings, instructors should prepare maps of Dublin with Bloom’s and Stephen’s intertwining itineraries clearly traced.” He drew a charming one himself. Several decades later, a… Read More »

Do we possess a transpersonal imagination?

John Horgan writes: I’m still mulling over a meeting I attended last month at Esalen, the spiritual retreat center, on “exceptional experiences” that challenge conventional science. More specifically, I’m mulling over imagination. What generates it, and what are its limits, if any? Is it sometimes more akin to revelation than invention? Imagination is arguably the… Read More »

What makes a polymath?

David Robson writes: If it weren’t for an actress and a pianist, GPS and WiFi might not exist. In the late 1930s and early 40s, Hedy Lamarr was already the toast of Hollywood, famed for her portrayals of femme fatales. Few of her contemporaries knew that her other great passion was inventing. (She had previously… Read More »

A mathematician on how to get a stuck mind moving

Dan Rockmore writes: My job is to come up with ideas. Sometimes we mathematicians call the things we think about and work with “objects,” which doesn’t mean triangles, spheres, or other shapes. Mathematical objects are big ideas about algebra, geometry, and logic, about the properties and definitions of numbers. It’s not at all obvious how… Read More »

First major center for psychedelic research opening in the U.S.

Discover magazine reports: The launch of a new privately-funded research center dedicated to investigating the therapeutic benefits of psychedelic drugs was announced today at Johns Hopkins University. The Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research will be dedicated to understanding how psychedelics alter consciousness, behavior and brain function. The bulk of the research will focus on… Read More »

The power of seeing what is not there

In a review of Felipe Fernández-Armesto’s, Out of Our Minds: A History of What We Think and How We Think, Philip Marsden writes: Wallace Stevens called it ‘the necessary angel’. Ted Hughes thought it ‘the most essential bit of machinery we have if we are going to live the lives of human beings’. Coleridge described… Read More »