Day 17: Schope talk

Imagination is strong in a man when that particular function of the brain which enables him to observe is roused to activity without any necessary excitement of the senses. Accordingly, we find that imagination is active just in proportion as our senses are not excited by external objects. A long period of solitude, whether in prison or in a sick room; quiet, twilight, darkness—these are the things that promote its activity; and under their influence it comes into play of itself. On the other hand, when a great deal of material is presented to our faculties of observation, as happens on a journey, or in the hurly-burly of the world, or, again, in broad daylight, the imagination is idle, and, even though call may be made upon it, refuses to become active, as though it understood that that was not its proper time.

However, if the imagination is to yield any real product, it must have received a great deal of material from the external world. This is the only way in which its storehouse can be filled. The phantasy [sic] is nourished much in the same way as the body, which is least capable of any work and enjoys doing nothing just in the very moment when it receives its food which it has to digest. And yet it is to this very food that it owes the power which it afterwards puts forth at the right time. 1

And this is why smart, creative people withold faith in upper management as soon as the phrase generate content enters the discussion. Why smart, creative people smirk when 25-year-old adolescent punks in Silicon Valley boast that they "like to move fast and break shit." Why smart, creative people disengage when consultants and productivity hucksters toss PowerPoint slides into the air that valorize time management and productivity and cite "metrics" to back their empty arguments about how to increase the production of content.

All great creative work is made by smart, creative people who understand that the only way to do this work is to pay attention day after day after day after day, and then walk away from people and the bustle and the yammer to be alone and think it through.

Show me someone who manages time to "produce" every hour of every workday and I will show you a hack. Show me someone who can spend five hours staring out a window and I will show you someone who just might make something worth my attention someday.


1Arthur Schopenauer, "Psychological Observations." Worthy of reading and pondering. Find here.

Brought to my attention by Alan Jacobs, also worthy of your time and consideration.