Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery


Sunbird on my balcony

Sunbird on my balcony

I’m interested in the subject of creativity. Singaporeans are known to be uncreative. Can we teach creativity?

We look at the entertainment field where creativity is de rigeur, the Korean drama and pop stars are today ruling the entertainment scene where the Japanese once reigned. Next in line would be the Taiwanese/ Hong Kongers.

Those of us who are old enough to remember, will recall, that not too long ago, the Japanese were the source of cheap manufacturing parts.  [In those days, we buy German products if you want quality.] Then, came the Koreans.  You go to Seoul for cheap, imitation Coach bags.  Then, came the Taiwanese. Today, of course, China rules the counterfeit market. Will China move out of this stigma and develop their own range of products.

In “Creativity – the psychology of Discovery and Invention” by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, from interviews with exceptional people, biologists, physicists to poets, artists and business leaders, he puts forth that the “tortured genius” is largely a myth. There’s a description on Anthony Hecht, a lyric poet, who among many awards, won the Pulitzer in 1968. 

“Like all other writers, Hecht learned to be one by reading extensively. He memorized poems until they “became part of my bloodstream”. Then he spent years writing in the voice of various poets he admired: John Donne, George Herbert etc.”

“Poetry is whatever poetry has been, with any new inventions that a new poet cares to add to that. But he can’t add to it without knowing what it has been.” 

Stephen King’s “On Writing” shared similar points about his journey. 

In Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”, he discussed at length the same point, but named it “The 10,000 hours rule” citing Mozart.

Nothing is original, says Kirby Ferguson, creator of “Everything is a Remix”. From Bob Dylan to Steve Jobs, our most celebrated creators borrow, steal and transform and [put a trademark logo on it?]. Listen to his TED talk:

So how does one enhance personal creativity?

Some suggestions by Prof Cz:

1. Cultivate curiosity and creativity.

2. Cultivate flow in everyday life

3. Practice Habits of Strength

4. Internalise traits into your personality


Photo credits: Photos of sunbird outside my balcony. Taken by my husband, L who spent quite some 1000 minutes building rapport with his model.


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