Idea Sex

When it comes to Creativity, it would seem that 'new' ideas must come either from nowhere or somewhere.

The notion of 'creative ideas from nothing' is much like the Christian idea that God created the cosmos ex nihilo — Latin for 'from nothing'.

But there's another kind of creativity — combining existing things in new ways. I call that 'Idea Sex'. That's what sex does — it takes dad's nose and mom's eyes and combines all of that into a unique child the likes of which has never previously existed nor will ever exist again. DNA is that unique.

Sure, God's `ex nihilo' created the cosmos as a whole, but at the same time with extremely rare exception there isn't a form of life visible to your eye that isn't here due to sex: every animal, every plant, every insect. As far as we can tell, ex nihilo is something God did once to get the cosmos started. But in terms of Life on our planet (and perhaps other planets as well?), sex — combining the DNA of existing living things to create a uniquely new combination — is how God continues to [re]create Life anew from a past beyond comprehension into a future beyond imagining.

When it comes to our own creative efforts, there's something tempting about the conceit that 'this idea of mine is completely new'. So I don't have to share credit with anyone. But even the great creative geniuses of human history can trace the lineage of their insights to their ancestors of mind. If you were to put a baby Einstein on a desert island with no education or inputs from any other human beings, he would never have come up with Relativity. Einstein's great insights were the result of profound 'idea sex' — combining and extending insights from other intellectual giants that preceded him((Minkowsky and Lorentz in particular were eerily close to Special Relativity — it was Einstein's extra genius and courage, frankly, that finally put Special Relativity all together. See Relativity: The Special and General Theory (on Amazon) which begins with essays by Lorentz and Minkowski, followed by the landmark 1905 paper by Einstein. That much is largely accessible to someone comfortable with high school analytic geometry. General Relativity (gravity) later in this book, however, requires formidable mathematics.))

I say all this because as we face challenges in our lives, it is easy to think we have to come up with some Completely New Solution. When maybe all that is necessary is to wake up to ideas that are already around us today, and combine them in new ways. Somehow that seems much more achievable than having to come up with completely new and unique solutions ex nihilo.

At the very least it behooves us to be open to solutions whatever their source: the Void, or that which is around us right in front of our faces.