Monday, October 5, 2009

My brain is like the Ford factory.

According to James Webb Young, that is. The following excerpt is from the McGraw-Hill Advertising Classic, A Technique for Producing Ideas. I've found myself thinking of his theory over and over since I read the book last week. I think he's right.

"An idea, I thought, has some of that mysterious quality which romance lends to tales of the sudden appearance of the islands in the South Seas. There, according to ancient mariners, in spots where charts showed only deep blue sea, there would suddenly appear a lovely atoll above the surface of the waters. An air of magic hung above it. And so it is, I thought, with Ideas. They appear just as suddenly above the surface of the mind - and with that same air of magic and unaccountability.

But the scientist knows that the South Sea atoll is the work of countless, unseen coral builders, working below the surface of the sea.

And so I asked myself: 'Is an idea, too, like this? Is it only the final result of a long series of unseen idea-building processes which go on beneath the surface of the conscious mind?

'If so, can these processes be identified, so that they can consciously be followed and utilized? In short, can a formula or technique be developed in answer to the question: How do you get ideas?'

What I now propose to you is the result of a long-time pondering of these questions and of close observation of the work of idea-producing men with whom I have had associations.

This has brought me to the conclusion that the production of ideas is just as definite a process as the production of Fords; that the production of ideas, too, runs on an assembly line; that in this production the mind follows an operative technique which can be learned and controlled; and that its effective use is just as much a matter of practice in the technique as is the effective use of any tool."

I'll share his outline of the process later this week.

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