Thursday, June 26, 2008

Daydreaming fosters creativity

Ben Elton, a British novelist and stand up comedian who invented alternative comedy and set the anti-Thatcher political agenda when I was growing up in the eighties, is quoted in Third Way magazine...

And now it is possible to take a television with you wherever you go and watch it at all times… I have begun to wonder what will happen to us.

I really do despair for children today. I don't think there's anything we can do, any legislation, but I think we are disenfranchising an entire generation - and all generations to come - from their own imaginations. I know from my own experience that if I can flip on a screen and doodle on the internet and look up crap, I will. I've got a very weak signal on my Wifi deliberately so that I can't just hop onto Google the minute my imagination runs dry. We need to be able to stare out of windows.

I totally agree. My kids don't watch tv - we don't have a dish hooked up or cable or even regular broadcast - instead they read books, draw pictures, play imaginative games with each other and their friends, and every now and then watch a movie or a recorded tv show on dvd. Holly always has her nose stuck in a book, or else she's doing exactly what Ben Elton suggests - staring out of the window. Her little ten year old mind is full of ideas and schemes and plans and stories and pictures that come pouring out at every opportunity. It's inspiring.

As for me, I spent my entire school career staring out of the window, and here I am as a guy who gets paid to be creative for a living. I still can't quite believe it. But the minute I get drawn into the tractor beam known as the interweb, an hour or two can pass by, and none of the creative things I ought to do or want to do have been done. No songs written, no poetry, no mind maps of projects and grand schemes to eradicate poverty or some other 21st century demon, no technical problems solved, no prayers prayed, no worship for my God, no love demonstrated to my wife or kids, just self-absorption in stuff that is very very interesting, but a complete waste of time. How depressing.

Maybe I'll just have to go dark for a while.

Interesting footnote; Felicity nearly became the editor of Third Way about ten years ago.

This entry is part of Creative Chaos at Ragamuffin Soul.


boxthejack said...

Great post. I'm off to stare out the window. On work's time.

Marty said...

Hey Mark,

Check this out. I read through my post yesterday because I had gotten that comment from Camel, and decided I was going to do some more connectiong. So last night I was hanging with my wife on the couch, and I moved from one site to the next. I first went to The Normal Rockstars site, Jeremy Thiessen(sp?) and he had placed you on his blogroll right next to mine, so I decided to click on yours, which I did. My internet was moving slow, so before it changed I had a knock at the door and someone wanted to chat with me. Anyways, I never did get to actually see your site and introduce myself because of time issues last night, but i woke up this morning and had a comment from you. How crazy is that?!!! Thanks for sharing and I'm looking forward to reading more of your stuff from Egypt!

Dottie said...

Finally, my daydreaming is justified!! Thank you!! Now I can day dream and not only not feel guilty about it, but actually proud of it! Shokran :)

Mark Jaffrey said...

Dottie and boxthejack - go for it. I have two windows to stare out of in my office, and I love it. My best office was at Edge Hill College near Liverpool where my office wall was floor to ceiling plate glass looking in to the woods. The trees were touching the glass - it was so peaceful.

Mark Jaffrey said...

Hi Marty,

Welcome to the blog. Maybe this will be the start of a beautiful relationship :-)

I first met Jeremy Thiessen in a men's bathroom, so at least our encounter is in slightly more sanitary circumstances.

Ooh, look, I'm neighbours with JT on your blogroll. Full circle.

Tyler said...

for some reason day dreaming leads to laziness for me. im creative in the shower/doing the dishes/when reading a book/at a concert.

Tex said...

If I wasn't an old dude, I would think we were twins. Stared out windows for years just due to pure boredom of school.

My teachers liked me this way. Cause if I was not day dreaming then as one teacher put it, "I was a cross between and earthquake and a tornado." For years I took that as a compliment.

Texas Ron Linebarger

Philippa said...

I've got to be the black sheep here (nothing new, you know that!) but I don't think technology is as much a root of evil as this post makes it sound. To the contrary, it's the world we live in, and the future as our children will know it. My boys watch TV, have satellite, Wii, and are extremely (and pleasingly) computer savvy - even William, aged 2 and a quarter, can load a disk, run a program, then shut a computer down in the correct way.

However they also love to swim, play outdoors, play dress up, read, colour, play make believe and all the other things that require imagination. Yes, too much of anything is usually detrimental, but I don't think it's unrealistic to say that is children who have access to technology can also do just fine on the imagination front.


Camel Rider said...

Great post. After 36 years of staring out windows and daydreaming I finally feel justified. My kids watch some tv but most of their day is spent simply playing. Because of where we live we don't have lots of external activities so if they want to have fun they have to create it.
:::Camel Rider
BTW, is it wrong that I do my best window staring and daydreaming during staff meetings and language classes?