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John Cleese On Creativity

This is a very interesting talk by Monty Python’s John Cleese on the topic of creativity, which I found in this post on drawn.ca a while ago. Now, John Cleese has been working in the entertainment business for about 50 years, so I’d say he knows a little more about creativity than you do, pal, because he invented it.

Okay, not really, but he still has a lot of interesting things to say about it, many of which at least I found very enlightening. Some of you will already know the video, because I have shared it a while ago on my private facebook page, but I wanted to post it on my blog as well.

John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda

John Cleese in 1988′s A Fish Called Wanda. © 1988 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Don’t worry, he is giving the lecture fully clothed. Find it embedded after the break:

While creativity is an important topic for game designers, John Cleese doesn’t mention games or game design directly. However, the great thing to me is how much of his speech not only centers on creativity, but also play and playfulness:

In fact, McKinnon described this particular facility as an ability to play. Indeed, he described the most creative in this mood as being child-like. For they were able to play with ideas, to explore them, not for any immediate, practical purpose, but just for enjoyment. Play for it’s own sake.

It is only fitting that, later in the talk, John Cleese actually quotes Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens about the nature of play, which is also quoted in game design literature like Rules of Play.

He also touches on a topic that I can identify with, especially if you try to be creative in a corporate environment.

Now, the people I find it hardest to be creative with are people who need, all the time, to project an image of themselves as decisive. And who feel that, to create this image, they need to decide everything very quickly and with a great show of confidence. Well, this behaviour, I suggest sincerly, is the most effective way of strangling creativity at birth.

However, I don’t want him to come off as an impractical dreamer, and I think his career and this quote argue against that:

Let me make on thing quite clear. We need to be in the open mode when we’re pondering a problem, but once we come up with a solution we must then switch to the closed mode to implement it, because once we’ve made a decision, we are efficient only if we go through with it decisively, undistracted by doubts about it’s correctness.

Wonder what the open and closed mode are? Watch the video, I find it is very worth it.

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