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When I think of my street a street robbery and the neighbor's front porch was turned blubbery and a flexible pariah a stretchable like moron I was carting away plastic for free. Is that all I know is that the end of the poem. That's all John. Closeup view of the fantastic world in just 29 words where our minds meet in a series of explorations and human communication conducted by professors John freind and Arnold Nelson of the Department of English Western Michigan University where minds meet is produced and recorded by W. M. U.K. under a grant from the National Association of educational broadcasters. In a shrinking world where minds meet in words or not at all man speech is his most decisive act. These discussions explore this world of speech of a topic of horror today is beyond the horizon creativity. Here are professors primed and analysis.
This is John freind and this is Donald Nelson. Suppose I read them a poem John and I to expand on it. Our topic today is creativity by which we mean the process that results in such a thing as a poem. Do these twenty nine words constitute a poem properly speaking. Do they result from creativity. I think that my street is turned rubbery and the neighbor's front porch has turned blubbery and a flexible pariah in a stretchy black Mariah is carting away plastic shrubbery. Well it has the rhyme and rhythm of a limerick which suggests a humorous comment on the world but you don't find it really funny. No far from it. It's a terrifying world one I've never seen before and one I don't want to live in Certainly. A world dissolving before my eyes. It's full of familiar objects. A street. My neighbor's front porch shrubbery. But what's happening to them is horrible death and disintegration. That's an odd theme for a limerick isn't it. A shocking. I think that part of the effect it has on me as if a
comedian Red Skelton say were suddenly to do a pantomime of a man dying of some horrible disease. The poem has a ghastly irony. Then it is a poem properly speaking. Yes I think so. It compresses quite remarkably a great many images into a recognizable poetic form as if its creator had some kind of control over what he was doing. And it directs these images at the reader at me in such a way that I feel them. It communicates It's not like the formless generation of a person talking in his sleep. No. Well I certainly agree with you that creativity must be channeled through the confines of some medium. The painters canvas the musical scale and so on with poetry it's the conventions of verse form that help the poet communicate with his audience. The matter of form isn't enough in itself of course. For me the most important element in creativity the thing that sets a poem apart from advertising copy say is what the Creator contributes from his unique personality his self
is well his soul the created object expresses the unique purpose of the artist or poet. He says something he wants to say again. He's in control of the thing that communicates in the poem comes from him not from a sponsor or not from some impersonal motive right. Again I'd agree and I'd add a third element to create an object comes from the self. It's communicated through a conventional form. And finally it's the kind of thing that makes some appeal to another person to an audience. Yes it's significant meaningful and has a human dimension so that it helps an audience find some expression of himself. Yes but you seem to be describing great works of art here. Paradise Lost or Handel's Messiah. You know I don't mean that only great masterpieces are created. That little poem I think represents genuine creativity on the basis of our definition and even less artful products seem to spring from the same kind of activity I suppose every healthy human being engaged is in the process of creation.
Well parents of kindergartners are constantly being made proud of their children's creative achievements. And when college students are occasionally forced as in our humanities course. Paint a picture or write a poem. They often surprise themselves. Yes if they can enter into the job with an air of come what may. If they along any idea that swims into their consciousness to be considered They seldom fail to meet at least the original. And that's an essential part of creativity in the terms of our last program then the created object is characterized by a high degree of information. It contains surprises for us so that we save it that it's original and interesting if it's hackneyed and dull. When I would say it's too redundant and this would apply only to ANY created object whether in the arts or the sciences the creative scientists themselves physicists and mathematicians for example often describe the process of scientific discovery in terms that apply perfectly to creativity in the arts and the process seems equally mysterious their creativity is after all the most
complex form of communication. Reform has to observe because all we have to look at ordinarily is the finished product as we can ask the creator how he accomplished what he did. But often he can only shrug his shoulders and say that it just came to him. Well we've tried to get a little closer to the process by setting up an experimental situation with the cooperation of two of our colleagues. The odd little poem about the rubbery world is one result. It's odd because of the experiment we gave our subjects two words and I asked them to write limericks using those words for rhymes The words were shrubbery and pariah. Come on when he has this assignment requires considerable ingenuity at least because the form first of all is very rigid and these two words of course are not especially compatible. Well looked at simply as a puzzle solving this thing is something like Houdini escaping from the sealed vault to be creative as well as merely clever here is like asking Houdini to dance a ballet while escaping from the vault. Well here's the way our
friend Phil Denton felt solve the problem. A very respectable shrubbery manhole cover over me and by a handsome high flier. Let the program stay patient without it. Well it's a Limerick and Phil is out of that sealed vault. Yes John suppose we suspend judgment on the quality of the performance and let our audience in on the process which is what we're interested in as we try to demonstrate on our last programme. Some kinds of thinking are verbal like this and if the thinker can rebel eyes alone while he's thinking we have a chance to listen in on the process. So we were able to record Phil's musings as he composed that limerick. We left him alone in his desk and turned on the tape recorder. And this kind of experiment may be unique. Scholars have available poets first drafts and various revisions and these materials through a great deal of light on the process of poetic creation. But the oral record is much more detailed. Phil made a half hour tape while writing his limerick the first part of that tape is best
summarized by saying that Phil played around with the two words we gave him. Creation has an active process and Phil had to toss those words around to get something moving. He made free associations with all sorts of ideas and shrubbery for example suggested blubbery and blubbery suggested blueberry pie which incidentally he discarded as I was interested in the origin of the phrase handsome high flyers. When the word fly off first came to him through free association with Pariah it was simply one of several equally and promising alternatives. Here's how it came to end. OK. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah and. Long. Enough to pay me and
my. Truck and. My head. Well it sounds as if illness during things up on the bases of trying anything once the way small children sometimes were jigsaw puzzles. Yes it sounds that way. Like a kind of mechanical manipulation of symbols putting words in a kaleidoscope and turning it just to see what might happen. And now though about five minutes later Phil remembered that particular turn of the kaleidoscope and seized on the word fly as the word he needed. Here's the way he got the third line of his limerick. When British respect shrubbery and our blubbery. For himself. But for. By. But. For. And it is a sea of repartee. Well I think and or robbery.
Right. But I have some high flying. Yeah. Well it sounds a Phil discovered something which strangely enough he already had. Yes. Oh yeah that he said yes but Phil's experience indicate is that the human mind is capable of taking something at random and by turning it over and over and over and looking at it in comparison with a great many other things. Find a pattern of meaning for it. He didn't make something out of nothing. He drew upon a seemingly limitless reservoir within himself most of which he didn't know he had. Yes he dredged it up and then exerted conscious control over it. Well our other subject Jon Woods demonstrated the same thing but his verbalizing revealed a somewhat different approach. Yes and he produced a completely different kind of poem as we've already heard the one we commented on earlier was his second attempt on his first trying he started out in much the
same way that Phil did but Johnson is not alone a man I'd be a much more quickly. Here's John Wood's tackle that shrubbery and pariah. Oh so you want to possible rhyme shrubbery robbery this robbery robbery and the next one is not is through robbery slobbery blubber a blubbery. Labrie and robbery didn't have enough in common to work together a robbery and blubbery robbery and another thing entirely shrubbery robbery and blubber a pariah pariah. Blackmore. Take a flyer. Take. His class to the pawn take a flyer at a black pride. Denial denial. Diet. Pie.
Pariah on Russia. Black. All right. In a grim shrubbery. Shrubbery robbery and blubbery save shrubbery to the end robbery and blubbery a great deal like shrubbery should have a shock value of the property used when finding his one finding his attitude robbery and finding his sister in law robbery and finding the world it was all robbery. Try that. I'll try that he says as if he just build himself a rickety ladder and is going to take a chance on climbing it. Yes he lines up all the rhyming words in order. He grabs the first line out of the air or decides to go ahead with it. He seems confident though being able to find
his way through the last line. Well maybe it's the confidence of an old hand at this kind of thing. After all they'd publish one book of poems at the time the deaths at Paragon Indiana and he was working on a second. So when he said I'll try that. He seemed to have the air of one who was going to breeze right through a little finger exercise not taking it too seriously. Yes he sounds quite playful about that first line. He's relaxed in the choices he makes seem dependent entirely on adhering to the form and shocking the reader like Phil. He doesn't seem to be concerned about expressing himself. Let's pick him up again to the point where he said he would try it when finding his sister in law a robbery finding his sister in law robbery. And finding his sister in law robbery and his and his
and once removed. Had gone blubbery removed and had gone robbery gone blubbery he he hailed a black. Chauffeur by a pariah chauffeured chauffeured by a pariah. And told him to follow.
The shrubbery. Very modern when finding his sister in law robbery and his hand once removed to going blubbery. He hailed a black chauffeur by a pariah and told him to follow the shrubbery which leads to water. Well that was too easy. Rubbery blubbery. Not so good apparently no. He pushed through to the last line with relative ease but as he said it was too easy. I can understand what he meant when I compare that effort with his second poem. This one doesn't hang together very well for me. I'd say he found it too easy because he hadn't the challenge himself. As it turned out of course John didn't leave it at that. He took another crack at it in a way his second attempt as a revision on the first. Here's the way he started to work. Rubber a blob or a shrubbery bobbery nunnery. How about every.
I think I think that my ears have gone rubbery. I think that my. I think that the stream is all wet. I think that the world is all rubbery. I think that my street has turned rubbery now he has his first line and there are some very interesting differences. First of all he speaks in the first person. I think that my street has turned robbery. Yes as far as the words go at least he's more closely involved this time. Well I was interested in the three alternative choices he lined up three rubbery things his ears his street and his world. He lists them in expanding order from his senses to his neighborhood to the universe and he chooses the neighborhood.
My street robbery world occurred to him in the first poem and he rejected Vera too in favor of a robbery sister in law. There seems to be a great deal of purposeful sifting of choices that he doesn't verbalize for us yes of which he may not be conscious. Well as we know the poem presents a picture of a robbery world but I suppose he rejected the word world because he wanted to construct a world in the poem rather than merely state that it exists. Well here's how he continued until the poem was finished. I think that my street just turned robbery. And me and your neighbor doing base the neighbor's front porch and the neighbor's front porch and blubbery and the neighbors and the neighbor's front porch has
turned rubbery blubbery. Turned blubbery now with. Pariah. And inflexible pariah. And a flexible pariah. And a lengthening Blackmore in a flexible pariah. In a stretchy black Mariah. I should save stretches for the last stretch of the shrubbery stretchable
shrubbery. I couldn't be said anyway. Inflexible pride in a stretchy black mare I want to accent too many in that line and a stretchy black and I. Have those. It's carting away. Carting away. The shrubbery. I think that my street track robbery and the neighbor's front porch has turned blubbery and a flexible pariah like my ride carting away plastic robbery. Well that poem hangs together like a string of beads five images of rubber anus that add up to a picture of a distorted world. Looking back now I can see that the basic idea of this poem was in his mind as he started working on that first one. Yes and the word that seemed to crystallize things for him was robbery which he got from our word shrubbery.
He called it an obvious rhyme. So the theme of the poem came to him by the way of a purely accidental sound. He seemed to take that second effort a little more seriously entered into what was more his self more of his own purposes for just a second the irony I think you're making a statement based on some evidence our audience hasn't had a chance to hear we have a retrospective view of the experiment with John was three years after he made that recording we played it for him and asked for his reactions. The episode seemed to come back to him quite vividly. One thing we were interested in was a comparison of the Limerick with some things in his recently published book of poems called on the morning of color. Here's what he said and when we asked him what he thought about that limerick. There's a possibility there's a view of the world it's uncomfortable to think that you know I'm not saying all the moral standards are flexible you know your surroundings certainly there's some doubt that things are going to remain the same much longer.
I had that a poetic idea it's not a limerick idea I don't think particularly I notice some things although I was working with this book because I'm very good let's face it. Oh it's very well because you have certain limitations if you recall the experiment I was given certain words to work with. And in a tight little form like a limerick there's no chance to work use them for my purposes I had to work pretty hard to suit your purposes and to make anything reasonable I limited the form. To condensed. Did you get any of your purposes. Yes I think so. You noticed I was trying to do something and I said that I thought the world was all rubbery and I saw there wasn't much hope in that
but I got interested in the problem. So I brought in the street Mr. Will because that's sort of a framework of reference within which I could consider images. I woke all situations which led to my neighbor and I was going to bring in a string bass. But that's awful. I suspect that when John talked about his own purposes the purposes of technique he's not referring to the purposes of himself as a complete human being but I agree with your generalization that he put more of themselves into that second attempt. He said he got interested in it. It was a poetic idea. So it engaged his total personality. Or you could say that his personality seized on the idea of a robbery world and then worried it into a poetic notion. Interesting enough to engage his craftsmanship Yes a poet wouldn't waste his craftsmanship on something that seemed trivial to him it seems to me that when John talks about technique he has in mind deeper significances which he takes for granted. Here's what he said for instance when I asked him why he didn't use the alliteration plastic pariah.
Well I was another thing working against that. There was the echo of the Flexible Flyer. You know the old sled that people used to have. That was our next. Hour. Are. You any wonder whether butterfly that was in your preceding song you used to fly over or at least thought about the way he wanted a flexible flyer. That's what her came from. I just realized this now. The word traffic can enjoy it all and. I'm sure that I chose it for its Resnick services out of the past much of possible choices and I get it. There are areas that U.S. forces classics ready for funerals. He chose plastic he says because of its appropriate rhythm. But apparently it appealed to him because it enabled him to express in one flash of imagery a deeply felt attitudes around the world. Added to that he takes for granted as you say.
Yes it's an assumption imbedded in his personality. He takes it for granted until he's made a poem out of it. He doesn't probably can't express such ideas and feelings except through his craftsmanship as a poet. You know interview with John Edwards he compared the limerick with a poem in his book pointing out the superiority of the published verse. What he said gave me some insight into his creative impulse why he writes poems in a limerick I would say considering that as a lyric that is not a stanza. Reason I say that is because in this plan I present a situation but I turn around and it goes into the interior in a man trying to after all. But I only am left in a ready world and the other well can you draw any conclusions now John from what we have heard of the creative processes of Phil Dan and John words. Yes several things appear to be important. We referred to the sifting of choices. But before the mind can sift anything it must get something moving. There seems to be relatively little conscious control here any stimulus deliberately imposed or arriving by accident maistres something up to the surface of the mind.
Well the poet himself doesn't know what might come up but he can make conscious choices after that. Yes he can choose deliberately among alternatives but he still may not know why he chooses what he does. John Woods talked about certain things giving the poem class a heavy shock value but as verbalizing didn't get into his motives for preferring one classy word over an equally classy one or John Philip Corps couldn't pursue such motives in that experiment and still get on with writing the poem. We can surely assume now that the quite single minded pursuit of the theme as we saw in John Wooden springs from deeply embedded motives inseparable from the poet's personality from his communication with the world. Yes and I'd add that not only does the poem spring unpredictably from his personality and worldview but also that it tries to express it and to express it is in a real sense to create it for the poet and also for his audience. This is ultimately what creativity amounts to in poetry. The making of a new self and a new world out of the old. Symbolically Yes. Making a new world is the ultimate creative act whether through
poetry or mathematics. By that standard John Woods's rubbery world is of course found wanting. As he said of it it left him in a rubbery world where there was no place for man. In the longer poem which appears in his book The man's senses leave him and he inhabits a fragmentary world. But then finally man triumphs in the new world is created out of the ruins of the old. Here's John Woods to read that poem. One senses fly had a fitting conclusion I think to this program on creativity and also to this series of programmes on human communication for the last word we yield to the poet. I am cussed Odeon of close things even 100 trees have blood to leave and faces come upon me suddenly. I am a startled man and half the town and half my yard is blunder land. First I lost the violence then the grass and now the red and the wren white fence. Farewell the bright decay of oak
the crewcut water the blackest sizes of the night farewell the visual today the wind began to lag and all its freight of season drained into the neighbor trees and all the smoking side burns streets dropped ashes on the muted playground. Let lightning slam the screen I cry let neighbors war shop of cats tear metal. Oh Stone me was shouting but the grating thunderheads suspends its buzzing nest beneath my bow. Farewell. The audible. Touch tell me what the world displays. For now I reign behind my eyes. If you would heard me gather close for in the last deceptions skin I must be broken by a
kiss. Love is a cave of scrolls and I have thrown away all spectacles. I roll horizons like a hoop among the muffler trees and see the nerve ends crackling in the dark. They're well attended. Inside I stand a coalescent. Thus when I sing my voice is turned to stone and where I touch the veins stand. When I am alone in the forest swarms with nakedness and where I point pull stars waltz along my finger. Look. The fence appears. Then grass and all my senses step on naked feet into the garden to ring and enveloped the storm to name the kneeling animals. You have been listening to where our minds meet. A discussion of human communication by professors
John freind and Arnold Nelson who our minds meet is produced and recorded by W. M. U.K. under a grant from the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the NOAA AB Radio Network.
Where minds meet
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Western Michigan University
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Beyond the Horizon: Creativity
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Discussions explore world of speech, conducted by Professors John Freund and Arnold Nelson of Western Michigan University
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Host: Freund, John
Host: Nelson, Arnold
Producing Organization: Western Michigan University
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 63-4-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Duration: 00:29:17
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Chicago: “Where minds meet; Creativity,” 1963-03-06, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 21, 2024,
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APA: Where minds meet; Creativity. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from