Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

How does the new come into being?

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Patou ball gown, 1954

How the “new” comes into being:—One natural question often raised is: How do we ever get new verbal creations such as a poem or a brilliant essay? The answer is that we get them by manipulating words, shifting them about until a new pattern is hit upon…How do you suppose Patou builds a new gown? Has he any “picture in his mind” of what the gown is to look like when it’s finished? He has not, or he would not waste his time making it up; he would make a rough sketch of it or he would tell his assistant how to make it…He calls his model in, picks up a new piece of silk, throws it around her; he pulls it in here, he pulls it out there, makes it tight or loose at the waist, high or low, he makes the skirt short or long. He manipulates the material until it takes on the semblance of a dress. He has to react to it as a new creation before manipulation stops. Nothing exactly like it has ever been made before…Not until the new creation aroused admiration and commendation, both his own (an emotional reaction either verbalized or unverbalized) and others’, would manipulation be complete (the equivalent of the rat’s finding food).

J.B. Watson, Behaviorism

Written by nevalalee

March 1, 2014 at 9:00 am

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