those a-ha! moments: fetish for the pathologically creative

There is an element of intentional controversy. He just happened to have a infant’s skull tucked away in the corner of the workshop and bingo! he found the right context to use it. It was one of those a-ha moments, that arrive so infrequently among even the greatest creative minds. The “For Heaven’s Sake” artwork however did come with a wad of complaints from parents who have lost children. The art work features a nineteenth century skull of a newborn baby which was part of Hirst’s pathology collection. The boundaries of taste are pretty well at the limit short of snuff films, but then again the skull has always been well represented in art.

---“Aha moments come in all shapes and sizes. We know from the real people featured on this site and with those to whom we continue to speak, that aha moments are personal. They have been described as, “magic,” “enlightenment,” and, “that moment of clarity when all the pieces fall into place.” They’ve told us that having an aha moment is like, “getting hit by a bus,” and that it just “hits you.”--- read more:

There is even a “proud sponsor” of the aha! moment now, Mutual of Omaha. This means you can insure the moment, term or life annuity to keep the pleasure safe and secure. In fact, the company in a democratic gesture has invited anyone to share their moment much in the same way that Oprah has asked celebrities to share their moments with an inspirational flourish. This must be President Obama’s Sputnik moment. We have arrived. America will be a world leader in Aha moments. In fact Hirst may have been the initial catalyst in translating his moments into commodity art and selling conceptual aha’s.

“Using brain imaging techniques, researchers found that activity increased in a small part of the right lobe of the brain called the temporal lobe when the participants reported experiencing creative insight during problem solving. Little activity was detected in this area during noninsight solutions….

"Roger Sclare, the owner of the taxidermy business Get Stuffed, which provided Hirst with the first skull, said: "Infants' skulls are rare, but they do occasionally come up for sale if a museum or old teaching hospital who may have had them in their stock has a clear out. Private collectors will also sometimes trade them." Hirst, who has a home in Mexico, has said that he has been inspired by the use of skulls in ancient Aztec art. He has said: "What's the maximum I could do as a celebration against death? When you look at a skull, you think it represents the end, but when you see the end so beautiful, it gives you hope. ..." Read More:

Researchers say previous studies have shown that this right temporal lobe may be important for drawing distantly related information together, which is a key component of insight. In the second experiment, researchers monitored the participants’ brainwave activity using an electroencephalogram (EEG) during insight and noninsight problem solving tasks. The study showed that about one-third of a second before the “Aha!” moment, there was a sudden burst of high-frequency brain waves. This type of activity is associated with high-level processing of information, and researchers say it was also centered in the same right temporal lobe area.Read More: a

An aha moment?---As a result, when an economist -- even Nobel Prize-winner Edward Prescott -- predicts that the "whole world's going to be rich by the end of this century," I tend to smile and think about where to go for happy hour. The world might be rich in 2100 but first, we've got to get through the next few years before the stage is set for a new gilded age. Mr. Prescott was quoted by my friend Terence Corcoran in the National Post on Tuesday in a column in which the gist is that attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos and others are being too gloomy and that some economists are thinking we're in the early stages of a new "super cycle" that will bring prosperity to the four corners of the globe. Read more: image:

This obviously explains Hirst’s fascination with the human skull.We want to believe that creativity and innovation come in flashes of pure brilliance, with great thunderclaps and echoing ahas! Innovators and other creative types,like advertising types, we believe, stand apart from the crowd, wielding secrets and magical talents beyond the rest of us. It may be horse manure, or a big cow pod.

These Epiphanies apparentlyhave little to do with either creativity or innovation. Instead, innovation is a slow process of accretion, building small insight upon interesting fact upon tried-and-true process. A closely idea was  Arthur Koestler’s The Ghost in the Machine, which attempted to map out a hierarchical structure of… well, structure. He examined how hierarchies work in a vast array of subjects, everything from corporate structures to evolution to the organization of the mind, with a key emphasis on the dual nature,the”Janus”of every node in a given hierarchy.

"I just read that one of the Aztec rituals of honoring ancestors on this day is to make a sugar skull resembling a relative, write their name on it and eat it. Geeze, even if I had a skull made out of chocolate and nonpareils with jelly bean teeth and raspberry drizzle, I couldn't eat it if it had my dad's name on it. I really couldn't. I guess that's what you call a cultural difference. " read more:

Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican/Aztec holiday known as Day of the Dead, is said by Hirst to have been of some influence, the human sacrifice element non-withstanding. The  Day of the Dead is traditionally about remembering and honoring departed loved ones by creating altars in their memory, holding  vigil at cemeteries, and bringing food  for the departed to enjoy on their annual ni

among the living. Less macabre than Halloween in still has deep roots in  pagan origin.

Joshua Glenn: Detectivework is another such area. And it is no wonder that Sherlock Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was a physician. The eponymous Dr. House of television is perhaps an anti-Holmes in his use of abductive reasoning. He misdiagnoses all the time, performs unnecessary procedures (up the wazoo, so to speak). (He also walks with his cane on the wrong side.) But his is a different sort of fiction….

"Best known for including everyday objects that are universal all over India, Subodh Gupta has used steel boxes used by millions to carry their lunch as well thali (Indian meal) pans, bicycles and milk buckets. Using such ordinary items, Gupta creates sculptures that reflect on the economic transformation of his homeland. Icons of everyday Indian life are translated into the artworks of Subodh Gupta and are globally accepted.... read more:

Abductive reasoning is heavily reliant upon (and certainly overlaps) insight-based reasoning. Both pivot upon an “aha” or “eureka” moment. In research to map the “aha moment” in the brain, functional magnetic resonance imaging has shown solving a problem through an “aha moment” engages quite a different pattern of neuronal activity than slogging through deductive reasoning….

---30 B.C. — 14 A.D. Inv. 109982. Mosaic Collection Naples of the Naples, National Archaeological Museum (inv. nr. 109982). The mosaic represents the Wheel of Fortune and reversal of fortune. When turned it can make the rich (symbolized by the purple cloth on the left) poor and the poor (symbolized by the goat right) rich. It also marks precariousness, death lurks in every age, and life is hanging by a thread: if it breaks, it flies from the soul (symbolized by the butterfly), making all equal.--- read more:

…In some studies, there has been a flare of neuro-electrical activity in an unique part of the brain just preceding the “eureka”. It has been postulated that this difference has involved the “breaking of mental sets” with an “aha moment” – perhaps literally thinking outside the box. One might also invoke Arthur Koestler’s “Act of Creation” to postulate currents flowing at perhaps a subconscious level that then suddenly converge in a moment of realization/creation. Perhaps it is even akin to a seizure. Fyodor Dostoyevsky would say his seizures, while not contributory per se to his storying brilliance, at least to his knowledge, were among the most blissful states. Read More: a

Hans Holbein. ---When you look from a certain angle at the painting, the floor shows a skull: read more:


Waterhouse. Crystal Ball Skull. Stott:The heart of Percy Bysshe Shelley was famously plucked from the flames of his funeral pyre on a beach near Viareggio and squabbled over by Leigh Hunt and Edward Trelawny, the former wishing to preserve it in a jar of wine, and the latter wanting to present it to Shelley’s widow, Mary, who eventually kept it in a drawer of her writing table. Lord Byron had wanted to keep Shelley’s skull, but Trelawny, “remembering he had previously used one as a drinking cup,” only preserved a fragment of it, which is now in the possession of the Pforzheimer Collection of the New York Public Library. It looks exactly like a piece of dried leaf. read more: image:

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