Skip to main content

On Creativity - David Bohm ***

Physicist David Bohm was an unusual character. This American physicist spent much of working life in the UK. A collaborator on the Manhattan Project, Bohm is best known for his alternative approach to quantum theory which did away with conventional ideas of locality and that gave him the opportunity to bring both physics and the nature of thought into the same framework. Bohm's more original ideas were largely dismissed, but have had some resurgence of interest in the last few years.

In his classic book On Creativity, originally written several decades ago, but with some more recent material added, Bohm provides a series of long essays on topics from the nature of creativity and the relationship of science and art, to 'the art of perceiving movement' and 'art, dialogue and the implicit order.'

I found the first two essays quite interesting, particularly in Bohm's insights into the relationship of science and art, but the later essays seemed over-heavy with philosophical concepts that more got in the way of understanding than giving any great clarity, and the concluding interview has the typical shallowness of an attempt to interview a scientist with questioning from an arts background.

If you want to see how the mind of someone with genuinely wide-ranging curiosity and impressive ability to cross cultural and scientific boundaries operated, this book is well worth a go, though expect parts of it to be extremely hard work to read. If you want a clear exposition of the nature of creativity, beyond the basics in the first few pages, it is probably best to look elsewhere.

Hardback:  
Kindle:  
Review by Brian Clegg

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

I, Mammal - Liam Drew *****

It's rare that a straightforward biology book (with a fair amount of palaeontology thrown in) really grabs my attention, but this one did. Liam Drew really piles in the surprising facts (often surprising to him too) and draws us a wonderful picture of the various aspects of mammals that make them different from other animals. 

More on this in a moment, but I ought to mention the introduction, as you have to get past it to get to the rest, and it might put you off. I'm not sure why many books have an introduction - they often just get in the way of the writing, and this one seemed to go on for ever. So bear with it before you get to the good stuff, starting with the strange puzzle of why some mammals have external testes.

It seems bizarre to have such an important thing for passing on the genes so precariously posed - and it's not that they have to be, as it's not the case with all mammals. Drew mixes his own attempts to think through this intriguing issue with the histor…

Foolproof - Brian Hayes *****

The last time I enjoyed a popular maths book as much as this one was reading Martin Gardner’s Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions as a teenager. The trouble with a lot of ‘fun’ maths books is that they cover material that mathematicians consider fascinating, such as pairs of primes that are only two apart, which fail to raise much excitement in normal human beings. 

Here, all the articles have something a little more to them. So, even though Brian Hayes may be dealing with something fairly abstruse-sounding like the ratio of the volume of an n-dimensional hypersphere to the smallest hypercube that contains it, the article always has an interesting edge - in this case that although the ‘volume’ of the hypersphere grows up to the fifth dimension it gets smaller and smaller thereafter, becoming an almost undetectable part of the hypercube.

If that doesn’t grab you, many articles in this collection aren’t as abstruse, covering everything from random walks to a strange betting game. What'…

A Galaxy of Her Own - Libby Jackson ****

This is an interesting book, even if it probably tries to be too many things to too many people. I wondered from the cover design whether it was a children's book, but the publisher's website (and the back of the book) resolutely refuse to categorise it as such. The back copy doesn't help by saying that it will 'inspire trailblazers and pioneers of all ages.' As I belong to the set 'all ages' I thought I'd give it a go.

Inside are featured the 'stories of fifty inspirational women who have been fundamental to the story of humans in space.' So, in some ways, A Galaxy of Her Own presents the other side of the coin to Angela Saini's excellent Inferior. But, inevitably, given the format, it can hardly provide the same level of discourse.

Despite that 'all ages' comment and the lack of children's book labelling we get a bit of a hint when we get to a bookplate page in the form of a Galaxy Pioneers security pass (with the rather worrying…