THE MIND'S BEST WORK by D. N. Perkins

THE MIND'S BEST WORK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Quite an engaging book on creativity--because it is not pretentious, not doctrinaire, not out to demonstrate that you, too, have the makings of a Mozart or a Picasso. Instead, Harvard researcher Perkins sets forth various propositions on what goes into creating, and then systematically dissects, destroys, amends, or polishes them. Example: ""When it's right you know it."" Revised proposition: ""The maker's feelings of rightness or wrongness reveal only rather unreliably the actual state of affairs. . . makers acquire strategies to compensate for the unreliability of their judgments, however sure or unsure they feel."" Perkins has obviously examined the literature of ""Aha""--of illumination following incubation--and conducted many tests himself, such as out-loud reporting by artists and writers in process. He has also read the recollections-in-tranquility, the older insight theorists, and the newer Koestlers and left-brain/right-brain preachers. He is as well versed as any in the anecdotal literature: e.g., Mozart composing the overture to Don Giovanni in the wee morning hours prior to the premiere performance. Perkins adopts just the right note of skepticism, constructive criticism, plausible explanation. We end up with some reasonable thoughts on the combination of intelligence and ability, personality factors, and chance events that go into creating. Purpose, Perkins emphasizes, is crucial. To achieve purpose, the creator makes plans and may incorporate any number of strategies or tactics (noticing, realizing, directed remembering, problem-finding, heuristics, hill-climbing)--all of which build toward a superior, original kind of selection. Numerous examples shore up the arguments and illustrate the points, and Perkins also wins with some modestly funny jokes, puzzles old and new, and teasing, do-it-yourself instructions. No royal road to creativity, but an instructive, entertaining hunt.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press