Imagine
book cover

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

4/5 stars
Book review by James Carson.
Published 06 April 2012

First, the good news: there’s no such thing as a creative type. Next, the best news: we’re all creative types.  As modern science uncovers the mysteries of the imagination, the myth that only a talented few have the capacity to create is being emphatically debunked. Jonah Lehrer’s book underlines just how much we’ve learned about the brain’s creative properties. One startling revelation concerns the section of grey matter that controls impulse. It’s this chunk of tissue that stops us suddenly stripping down to our undies on the 8.15 to East Kilbride. When artists, such as jazz musicians, learn to manage the impulse constraint, they can enter a state of controlled craziness, better known as improvisation. Sometimes, Lehrer wanders into self-help territory, with snappy one-liners like: 'You break out of the box by stepping into the shackles.' But he’s by no means condescending, and avoids subjecting the reader to a jamboree of jargon. Using stories from commerce, education and the arts, Lehrer demonstrates that creativity relies as much on people power as on brain power. Idea-sharing is vital, he says, in a world where complex problems need creative solutions:  'Once we know how creativity works, we can make it work for us.' [James Carson]