Brain Pickings

Twilight Zone Creator Rod Serling on Where Good Ideas Come From


“Ideas are born from what is smelled, heard, seen, experienced, felt, emotionalized.”

The questions of where good ideas come from, what inspiration is made of, why some people are more creative than others, and how we can optimize ourselves for creativity are perhaps as enduring as the act of creation itself.

In this short clip from the vintage TV special Writing for Television, Rod Serling, creator of the cult-classic The Twilight Zone, manages to articulate the combinatorial nature of creativity, as well as Arthur Koestler’s seminal theory of “bisociation,” in a mere sixty-four seconds:

Ideas come from the Earth. They come from every human experience that you’ve either witnessed or have heard about, translated into your brain in your own sense of dialogue, in your own language form. Ideas are born from what is smelled, heard, seen, experienced, felt, emotionalized. Ideas are probably in the air, like little tiny items of ozone.

Half a century later, David Lynch answered the same question.

Complement with pioneering Harvard psychologist Jerome Bruner on the six essential conditions of creativity.

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