Synthesis and Creation

By Rachel Revelle

I have a new favorite website. Brain Pickings has been capturing my attention, luring me daily to investigate what inspiration, motivation, resonance, challenge I may find. If I sometimes use it as a procrastination, I’m inclined to think it is a healthy one. From the About page:

Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why, bringing you things you didn’t know you were interested in — until you are.

Because creativity, after all, is a combinatorial force. It’s our ability to tap into the mental pool of resources — ideas, insights, knowledge, inspiration — that we’ve accumulated over the years just by being present and alive and awake to the world, and to combine them in extraordinary new ways. In order for us to truly create and contribute to culture, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these ideas and build new ideas — like LEGOs. The more of these building blocks we have, and the more diverse their shapes and colors, the more interesting our creations will become.

Think about the vast quantity of information available on the internet.  How do you choose what to follow?  What to share? How to share? Having a few trusted synthesizers can reduce anxiety about these things. Brain Pickings is now one of mine. It is creatively about creation, in many different forms. I must remember, though, that the cross-pollination of ideas, the synthesis of creativity should also lead to new creations. Feeling inspired, what then shall I creat with my building blocks? It might be conversation, or written work, or even a state of mind. But hopefully synthesis leads to generation.

We also do a lot of cross-pollination of ideas at Kenan as an interdisciplinary institute. I hope that we succeed at both synthesis and creation, both being important to the life of the mind and the world around us.