In the June 8/15, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, David Grossman wrote about Bruno Schulz in a long essay that to me is as much about the development of Mr. Grossman’s ideas as it is about the earlier author, who died in 1942 at the hands of the Nazis. Specifically, Mr. Grossman described how he came to write a particular novel.
Mr. Grossman had written his first book, which someone told him must have been “greatly influenced by Bruno Schulz.” In fact, he hadn’t ever read anything by Schulz, but as soon as he did — well, “even today it is hard for me to describe the jolt that ran through me.” The book of stories that Mr. Grossman read also included an epilogue about the circumstances of Schulz’s death.
“I closed the book. I felt as if I had been bludgeoned. As if I were falling into an abyss where such things were possible,” said Mr. Grossman in the essay, “The Age of Genius.”
“Not always can a writer pinpoint the moment at which a book sprouted inside him. After all, feelings and thoughts accumulate over a period of years, until they ripen and burst out in the act of writing. And yet, although for many years I had wanted to write about the Shoah, it was those two sentences, this devastating sample of Nazi syntax and world view — ‘I have killed your Jew,’ ‘All right, now I will go and kill your Jew’ — which were the final push, the electric shock that ignited the writing of my novel ‘See Under: Love’.”
“It’s easy coming up with the initial concept. It’s fine-tuning, developing and getting a product to market which is in some ways the hardest part.”
From an interview by York Membery of British inventor Trevor Baylis in the August 15/16, 2009 issue of the Financial Times.
Examining as he often does the derivation of voguish words and phrases, William Safire focussed on the “aha moment” in his July 5, 2009 “On Language” column in The New York Times.
He quoted a psychologist who was quoted in The Wall Street Journal — “An aha moment is any sudden comprehension that allows you to see something in a different light” — and traced the concept and phrase back through popular and media usage all the way to Archimedes in his bath, where his discovery of displacement is said to have caused him to exclaim, “Eureka!”
Eureka, ancient Greek for aha – universal language for idea-ists.
“At lunch I will go out and bike 20 miles. Then I’ll get back and all of a sudden a thought comes to my brain, and I solve something I was struggling with.”
From a profile by Christopher Tkaczyk of software firm SAS in the August 17, 2009 issue of Fortune (quoting an employee telling what it’s like to work at SAS).
When I saw the words “iconoclast” and “reshaped dance” in the headline, I knew I was in the realm of ideas.
In his obituary of Pina Bausch in The New York Times on July 1, 2009, Daniel J. Wakin credited the German choreographer with the ability ”… to create a powerful form of dance theatre that influenced generations of dancemakers …”
Pina Bausch, whose career as a choreographer began in 1968 and lasted until her death on June 30 at age 68, had the idea of starting with her dancers’ ideas — her responses to those ideas then shaped the dance. In a way, her creative method was itself a dance.
“Ms. Bausch established a method of creating dances that was widely copied,” wrote Mr. Wakin. “She would begin rehearsals by asking specific questions of the dancers: about memories, about their daily lives. She would ask them to act out the recollections, and create minidramas from their responses. The dance would grow out of that work, as well as a sense of place derived from foreign residencies.”
Michael Konrad’s idea is to chart the currents in Richardson Bay.
The life-long scientist (ostensibly retired) and long-time rower showed up on the Open Water dock in early June with his new invention — a floating device containing a miniature GPS to send streams of data to his computer at home. Throughout the summer, he has been bringing the device out with him when he goes rowing. He deposits it in the water and lets it float freely about, transmitting information on the ebbs and flows and slacks of the tide moving in and out of this small bay that adjoins the mighty San Francisco Bay. When Michael is finished rowing for the day, he retrieves his device.
Apparently no one has ever charted the currents in Richardson Bay. For timing purposes (“when is high tide?”), we rowers, kayakers and others who ply the water add and subtract minutes from published information on San Francisco Bay currents. But this doesn’t tell us what’s happening within Richardson Bay, and there is no visual aid. When Michael organizes all that his device has told him, that’s what he will be able to produce. It promises to be informative and beautiful.
Richardson Bay is relatively shallow, and there is an abundance of eel grass growing just outside the dredged channels. When the tide is low, the grass is evident — so we avoid it and row in the channels. But when the tide is high, and the grass seemingly invisible under the surface, we tend to forget about it. After all, our boats don’t draft very much … we probably won’t get tangled … Michael’s device has already helped him describe the difference in force between an ebb (or a flow or a slack) tide in a channel vs. a grassy area, and that can make a big difference to a rower skimming along the surface and all of a sudden wondering, “What the heck just happened to this water?”