Painting by Katarina Countiss
People think that artists are shamans of culture, summoning the muse into their fingers, causing beauty to flow onto a page or a blank canvas. Richard Feynman describes the path of the scientist and what motivation fuels the life of a creative.
Excerpt from Feynman’s Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and Life by Mlodinow, Leonard (Book – 2003) p.42-44. Leonard Mlodinow writes about his relationship with the renown Richard Feynman. This is a snippet from one of his recorded conversations. These are Feynman’s words.
The scientist analyzes something like a detective does. Like a detective trying to find out what happened when he wasn’t there, given clues. We are trying to figure out what nature is like from clues given by experiments. We have the clues and we try to figure it out. It is more analogous to detective work than anything else.
Really all we do is a hell of a lot more than one particular kind of that that is normal and ordinary! People do have imagination; they just don’t work on it as long. Creativity is done by everybody, it’s just that scientists do more of it. What isn’t ordinary is to do it so intensively that all this experience is piled up for all these years on the same limited subject.
A scientist’s work is normal activities of humans carried out to a fault, in a very exaggerated form. Ordinary people don’t do it as often, or as I do, think about the same problem every day. Only idiots like me do that! Or Darwin, or somebody who worries about the same question. “Where do the animals come from?” Or, “What is the relation of species?” A scientist works on it, and thinks about it for years! What I do, is something that common people often do, but so much more that it looks crazy! But it’s trying to find the potentiality as a human being.
For example, neither you nor I have muscles that stand out on our arms like these fabulous guys. For us that would be impossible. Well they work and they work and they work on it. In that case, it might be a fault. How big can you make those muscles? How can you make the chest look so great? They try to find out how far you can go. And therefore, they do something with an intensity that is out of the ordinary. It doesn’t mean that we never left weights. All they do is lift weights more. But, like us, they’re trying to find the greatest Potentiality of human being’s activity in a certain direction.