新视野大学英语1读写教程课文unit 8 Birth of Bright Ideas
Having ideas about a story before you read it is an important reading skill. Please listen to a very short piece of recording.
Now listen to the recording for the second time and try to the best of your ability to answer the following questions.
1. Where do good ideas come from?
2. How many examples or ways of getting good ideas are discussed?
3. How did Wagner get the idea for the beginning of his music?
Birth of Bright Ideas
No satisfactory way exists to explain how to form a good idea. You think about a problem until you're tired, forget it, maybe sleep on it, and then flash! When you aren't thinking about it, suddenly the answer arrives as a gift from the gods.
Of course, all ideas don't occur like that but so many do, particularly the most important ones. They burst into the mind, glowing with the heat of creation. How they do it is a mystery but they must come from somewhere. Let's assume they come from the "unconscious." This is reasonable, for psychologists use this term to describe mental processes which are unknown to the individual. Creative thought depends on what was unknown becoming known.
All of us have experienced this sudden arrival of a new idea, but it is easiest to examine it in the great creative personalities, many of whom experienced it in an intensified form and have written it down in their life stories and letters. One can draw examples from genius in any field, from religion, philosophy, and literature to art and music, even in mathematics, science, and technical invention, although these are often thought to depend only on logic and experiment. All truly creative activities depend in some degree on these signals from the unconscious, and the more highly insightful the person, the sharper and more dramatic the signals become.
Take the example of Richard Wagner composing the opening to "Rhinegold". Wagner had been occupied with the idea of the "Ring" for several years, and for many months had been struggling to begin composing. On September 4, 1853, he reached Spezia sick, went to a hotel, could not sleep for noise without and fever within, took a long walk the next day, and in the afternoon flung himself on a couch intending to sleep. Then at last the miracle happened for which his unconscious mind had been seeking for so long. Falling into a sleeplike condition, he suddenly felt as though he were sinking in a mighty flood of water, and the rush and roar soon took musical shape within his brain. He recognized that the orchestral opening to the "Rhinegold", which he must have carried about within him yet had never been able to put it into form, had at last taken its shape within him. In this example, the conscious mind at the moment of creation knew nothing of the actual processes by which the solution was found.
As a contrast, we may consider a famous story: the discovery by Henri Poincare, the great French mathematician, of a new mathematical method called the Fuchsian functions. Here we see the conscious mind, in a person of highest ability, actually watching the unconscious at work. For weeks, he sat at his table every day and spent an hour or two trying a great number of combinations but he arrived at no result. One night he drank some black coffee, contrary to his usual habit, and was unable to sleep. Many ideas kept surging in his head; he could almost feel them pushing against one another, until two of them combined to form a stable combination. When morning came, he had established the existence of one class of Fuchsian functions. He had only to prove the results, which took only a few hours. Here, we see the conscious mind observing the new combinations being formed in the unconscious, while the Wagner story shows the sudden explosion of a new concept into consciousness.
A third type of creative experience is exemplified by the dreams which came to Descartes at the age of twenty-three and determined his life path. Descartes had unsuccessfully searched for certainty, first in the world of books, and then in the world of men. Then in a dream on November 10, 1619, he made the significant discovery that he could only find certainty in his own thoughts, cogito ergo sum ("I think; therefore, I exist"). This dream filled him with intense religious enthusiasm.
Wagner's, Poincare's, and Descartes' experiences are representative of countless others in every field of culture. The unconscious is certainly the source of instinctive activity. But in creative thought the unconscious is responsible for the production of new organized forms from relatively disorganized elements.