Most adults don’t tend to think of math as creative, but I find it very much so. I co-run a math games program that we do with 2nd- and 3rd-graders, and one of my favorite things is if we’ve worked together long enough that the question “What if 2 + 2 did equal 5?” or equivalent comes up. It opens up so much exploration! Of what a number is, of why math exists in the first place, of the fraught history of 0 … it’s all weird and wild.

Humans can’t help being creative. I love that about us.

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Yes! I think it’s to our detriment that we have had such a narrow view of creativity. Opening it up is so essential. And now I want to take your math games class!

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Creativity is everywhere!

Oh, it’s fun. It’s one of the great delights of my life having a group of 8-year-olds get super into playing with math once a week. One of the activities that adults can have fun with is the zoo one we do for measurement. Blank piece of paper, create a zoo. The math part is finding perimeters and areas of the enclosures (this gets interesting if they don’t use rectangles, but most of the kids default to them), but there is so much creativity! One kid last year had a zoo of airplanes. One of mine had a zoo of only different kinds of monkeys. And then they can color them any way they like. It’s a riot.

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I appreciated this - thank you Anna! Your writing is just what I needed today ❤️

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I’ve known of and used oblique strategies for years. Eno’s creativity has always inspired me, his range of interaction with his creativity and with other people’s is fantastic. I’m reading Rubin’s book now. Good stuff, very in line with how I’m coming back to my own outside of the treatment room and kitchen creativity, i.e. my writing and photography. Probably has something to do with my engagement with meditation as well.

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Always and again-- thanks Anna

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So much of what you have written here resonates deeply with me. I am also a fan of Eno’s oblique strategies and of Yoko’s book Grapefruit (which always sparks some new response in me when I open it). I have also tried using AI for creative prompts and found them all a bit ‘meh’, but perhaps it was in the asking, rather than the answering where I went awry.

In Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke writes:

I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

This has always stuck with me. This invitation to live the questions rather than hoping for an answer. It allows my mind to expand beyond what I think (or think I know) is possible out into the wider expanse of the unknown. Krishnamurti once said “beware the man who knows” which I also really like. What if we don’t have all the answers? Could we be okay with exploring beyond the edges, trying new things and considering other perspectives?

I have experimented with constraints in my photography practice. I did a month I called “one camera, one lens” where all I did every day was use one single camera with the same lens fitted. It made me see the world in a different way and I think my photography was better for it. I have also set other creative constraints for myself since that one and now have some new ones to add to my creative vocabulary after joining the Creative Fuel Wednesday sessions.

So much goodness here to consider in this one post, I suspect I will return to it again and again.

Oh, and thanks for introducing me to Bernadette Mayer's List of Journal Ideas. So, so good..

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