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I originally posted this elsewhere in February 07 when I was feeling down about the time I had lost to being not quite myself while on the meds, and the time that was still being lost to my neuro recovery –

 

 

It's never too late to create

Creativity is not the domain of youth; some innovators get there through trial and error.

By David W. Galenson and Joshua Kotin, DAVID W. GALENSON is an economist at the University of Chicago. JOSHUA KOTIN, a doctoral student in English at the University of Chicago, is editor of the Chicago Review.

January 30, 2007

 

AT 76, CLINT EASTWOOD is making the best films of his career. "Letters from Iwo Jima" has been nominated for four Academy Awards — including best picture and best director. ("Flags of Our Fathers," which Eastwood also directed last year, received two nominations.) New York Times' film critic A.O. Scott recently named him "the greatest living American filmmaker." Such accolades are the latest development in Eastwood's creative ascension. Two years ago, his "Million Dollar Baby" won best picture and best director, a repeat of his success with "Unforgiven" at age 62 — his first Oscar after making movies for more than 20 years.

 

Sculptor Louise Bourgeois is 95. Later this year, she will be honored with a retrospective at London's Tate Modern museum. Last November, her "Spider," a sculpture she made at the age of 87, sold at auction for more than $4 million, the highest price ever paid for her work and among the highest ever paid for the work of a living sculptor.

 

Is such creativity in old age rare? Eastwood and Bourgeois often are considered anomalies. Yet such career arcs — gradual improvements culminating in late achievements — account for many of the most important contributions to the arts. That our society does not generally recognize this fact suggests that we're missing a key concept about creativity.

 

We often presume creativity is the domain of youth, that great artists are young geniuses, brash and brilliant iconoclasts. Arthur Rimbaud, Pablo Picasso, T.S. Eliot, Orson Welles, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jasper Johns all revolutionized their artistic disciplines in their teens or 20s. (Picasso, for example, created the first cubist paintings at 25, and Welles made "Citizen Kane" at 25.) These artists made dramatic, inspired discoveries based on important new ideas, which they often encapsulated in individual masterpieces.

 

But there's another path to artistic success, one that doesn't rely on sudden flashes of insight but on the trial-and-error accumulation of knowledge that ultimately leads to novel manifestations of wisdom and judgment. This is Eastwood's and Bourgeois' path — and it was the path for a host of other artists: Titian and Rembrandt, Monet and Rodin, Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier, Mark Twain and Henry James, Robert Frost and Elizabeth Bishop, to name a few. (Twain wrote "Tom Sawyer" at 41 and bettered it with "Huckleberry Finn" at 50; Wright completed Fallingwater at 72 and worked on the Guggenheim Museum until his death at 91.)

 

Paul Cézanne is the archetype of this kind of experimental innovator. After failing the entrance exam for the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts, he left Paris frustrated by his inability to compete with the precocious young artists who congregated in the city's cafes. He formulated his artistic goal, of bringing solidity to Impressionism, only after the age of 30, then spent more than three decades in seclusion in his home in Aix, painstakingly developing his mature style trying to represent the beauty of his native Provence. Finally, in his 60s, he created the masterpieces that influenced every important artist of the next generation.

 

Frost also matured slowly. He dropped out of Dartmouth and then Harvard, and in his late 20s moved to a farm in rural New Hampshire. His poetic goal was to capture what he called the "sound of sense," the words and cadence of his neighbors' speech. He published his most famous poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," at 49.

 

At 63, Frost reflected that although young people have sudden flashes of insight, "it is later in the dark of life that you see forms, constellations. And it is the constellations that are philosophy."

 

These two creative life cycles stem from differences in both goals and methods. Conceptual innovators aim to express new ideas or particular emotions. Their confidence and certainty allow them to achieve this quickly, often by radically breaking rules of disciplines they have just entered. In contrast, experimental innovators try to describe what they see or hear. Their careers are quests for styles that capture the complexity and richness of the world they live in.

 

The cost of ignoring Cézanne's example is tremendous — and not only for the arts. Our society prefers the simplicity and clarity of conceptual innovation in scholarship and business as well. Yet the conceptual Bill Gateses of the business world do not make the experimental Warren Buffetts less important. Recognizing important experimental work can be difficult; these contributions don't always come all at once. Experimental innovators often begin inauspiciously, so it's also dangerously easy to parlay judgments about early work into assumptions about entire careers.

 

But perhaps the most important lesson is for experimental innovators themselves: Don't give up. There's time to do game-changing work after 30. Great innovators bloom in their 30s (Jackson Pollock), 40s (Virginia Woolf), 50s (Fyodor Dostoevsky), 60s (Cézanne), 70s (Eastwood) and 80s (Bourgeois).

 

Who knows how many potential Cézannes we are currently losing? What if Eastwood had stopped directing at 52, after the critical failure of "Firefox," his 1982 film about a U.S. fighter pilot who steals a Soviet aircraft equipped with thought-controlled weapons?

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Healing

And just to collate everything on this theme, this is NP's find --

 

 

Prodigies vs. Late Bloomers: Wolfgang Mozart or Elliott Carter?

Is age the enemy of creativity and achievement?

 

Published on February 14, 2009 by Ira Rosofsky, Ph.D. in Adventures in Old Age

Psychology Today blog

 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/adventures-in-old-age/200902/prodigies-vs-late-bloomers-wolfgang-mozart-or-elliott-carter

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summer

There's hope! :D

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Healing

Here are highlights from Alex’s New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell, which, in fact, talks further about Galenson’s work.

 

“….Genius, in the popular conception, is inextricably tied up with precocity—doing something truly creative, we’re inclined to think, requires the freshness and exuberance and energy of youth…..

 

It’s a hard and fast rule that poets peak young, but our man Galenson polled literary scholars on the top 11 American poems, and found they were written at the ages 23 to 59.

 

One beginning author found himself fascinated by Haiti, and found himself drawn deeper and deeper in: "...There’s this very nonrational, nonlinear part of the whole process. I had a pretty specific time era that I was writing about, and certain things that I needed to know. But there were other things I didn’t really need to know. I met a fellow who was with Save the Children, and he was on the Central Plateau, which takes about twelve hours to get to on a bus, and I had no reason to go there. But I went up there. Suffered on that bus, and ate dust. It was a hard trip, but it was a glorious trip. It had nothing to do with the book, but it wasn’t wasted knowledge.”

 

Somehow, following this fascination wherever it went led to a critically acclaimed short story collection.

 

On the contrary, the young prodigies tend to be more focused:

 

“Prodigies like Picasso, Galenson argues, rarely engage in that kind of open-ended exploration. They tend to be “conceptual,” Galenson says, in the sense that they start with a clear idea of where they want to go, and then they execute it. ‘I can hardly understand the importance given to the word ‘research,’ ‘ Picasso once said in an interview with the artist Marius de Zayas. ‘In my opinion, to search means nothing in painting. To find is the thing.’ He continued, ‘The several manners I have used in my art must not be considered as an evolution or as steps toward an unknown ideal of painting. . . . I have never made trials or experiments.’”

 

Late bloomers work hard for a long time before they get much recognition or financial success. So, they could never make it without a lot of support along the way.

 

“This is the final lesson of the late bloomer: his or her success is highly contingent on the efforts of others…. Late bloomers’ stories are invariably love stories, and this may be why we have such difficulty with them. We’d like to think that mundane matters like loyalty, steadfastness, and the willingness to keep writing checks to support what looks like failure have nothing to do with something as rarefied as genius. But sometimes genius is anything but rarefied; sometimes it’s just the thing that emerges after twenty years of working at your kitchen table.”

 

It’s a very enlightening article, and, of course, beautifully written. It’s worth reading in toto.

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alexjuice

It’s a very enlightening article, and, of course, beautifully written. It’s worth reading in toto.

 

Yea. I reread it. Gladwell is a very gifted essayist.

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Healing

Gladwell *is* a Tipping Point. :D

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Martina23
On 5/29/2011 at 3:48 AM, Healing said:

I originally posted this elsewhere in February 07 when I was feeling down about the time I had lost to being not quite myself while on the meds, and the time that was still being lost to my neuro recovery –

 

 

It's never too late to create

Creativity is not the domain of youth; some innovators get there through trial and error.

By David W. Galenson and Joshua Kotin, DAVID W. GALENSON is an economist at the University of Chicago. JOSHUA KOTIN, a doctoral student in English at the University of Chicago, is editor of the Chicago Review.

January 30, 2007

 

AT 76, CLINT EASTWOOD is making the best films of his career. "Letters from Iwo Jima" has been nominated for four Academy Awards — including best picture and best director. ("Flags of Our Fathers," which Eastwood also directed last year, received two nominations.) New York Times' film critic A.O. Scott recently named him "the greatest living American filmmaker." Such accolades are the latest development in Eastwood's creative ascension. Two years ago, his "Million Dollar Baby" won best picture and best director, a repeat of his success with "Unforgiven" at age 62 — his first Oscar after making movies for more than 20 years.

 

Sculptor Louise Bourgeois is 95. Later this year, she will be honored with a retrospective at London's Tate Modern museum. Last November, her "Spider," a sculpture she made at the age of 87, sold at auction for more than $4 million, the highest price ever paid for her work and among the highest ever paid for the work of a living sculptor.

 

Is such creativity in old age rare? Eastwood and Bourgeois often are considered anomalies. Yet such career arcs — gradual improvements culminating in late achievements — account for many of the most important contributions to the arts. That our society does not generally recognize this fact suggests that we're missing a key concept about creativity.

 

We often presume creativity is the domain of youth, that great artists are young geniuses, brash and brilliant iconoclasts. Arthur Rimbaud, Pablo Picasso, T.S. Eliot, Orson Welles, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jasper Johns all revolutionized their artistic disciplines in their teens or 20s. (Picasso, for example, created the first cubist paintings at 25, and Welles made "Citizen Kane" at 25.) These artists made dramatic, inspired discoveries based on important new ideas, which they often encapsulated in individual masterpieces.

 

But there's another path to artistic success, one that doesn't rely on sudden flashes of insight but on the trial-and-error accumulation of knowledge that ultimately leads to novel manifestations of wisdom and judgment. This is Eastwood's and Bourgeois' path — and it was the path for a host of other artists: Titian and Rembrandt, Monet and Rodin, Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier, Mark Twain and Henry James, Robert Frost and Elizabeth Bishop, to name a few. (Twain wrote "Tom Sawyer" at 41 and bettered it with "Huckleberry Finn" at 50; Wright completed Fallingwater at 72 and worked on the Guggenheim Museum until his death at 91.)

 

Paul Cézanne is the archetype of this kind of experimental innovator. After failing the entrance exam for the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts, he left Paris frustrated by his inability to compete with the precocious young artists who congregated in the city's cafes. He formulated his artistic goal, of bringing solidity to Impressionism, only after the age of 30, then spent more than three decades in seclusion in his home in Aix, painstakingly developing his mature style trying to represent the beauty of his native Provence. Finally, in his 60s, he created the masterpieces that influenced every important artist of the next generation.

 

Frost also matured slowly. He dropped out of Dartmouth and then Harvard, and in his late 20s moved to a farm in rural New Hampshire. His poetic goal was to capture what he called the "sound of sense," the words and cadence of his neighbors' speech. He published his most famous poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," at 49.

 

At 63, Frost reflected that although young people have sudden flashes of insight, "it is later in the dark of life that you see forms, constellations. And it is the constellations that are philosophy."

 

These two creative life cycles stem from differences in both goals and methods. Conceptual innovators aim to express new ideas or particular emotions. Their confidence and certainty allow them to achieve this quickly, often by radically breaking rules of disciplines they have just entered. In contrast, experimental innovators try to describe what they see or hear. Their careers are quests for styles that capture the complexity and richness of the world they live in.

 

The cost of ignoring Cézanne's example is tremendous — and not only for the arts. Our society prefers the simplicity and clarity of conceptual innovation in scholarship and business as well. Yet the conceptual Bill Gateses of the business world do not make the experimental Warren Buffetts less important. Recognizing important experimental work can be difficult; these contributions don't always come all at once. Experimental innovators often begin inauspiciously, so it's also dangerously easy to parlay judgments about early work into assumptions about entire careers.

 

But perhaps the most important lesson is for experimental innovators themselves: Don't give up. There's time to do game-changing work after 30. Great innovators bloom in their 30s (Jackson Pollock), 40s (Virginia Woolf), 50s (Fyodor Dostoevsky), 60s (Cézanne), 70s (Eastwood) and 80s (Bourgeois).

 

Who knows how many potential Cézannes we are currently losing? What if Eastwood had stopped directing at 52, after the critical failure of "Firefox," his 1982 film about a U.S. fighter pilot who steals a Soviet aircraft equipped with thought-controlled weapons?

This I like. Very encouraging. Thank you for this article.

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