Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Humpty Dumpty

The other night at the dinner table Sawyer was playing with his broccoli, teetering it on the edge of his plate while singing 'Humpty Dumpty' to himself. I know he's seen at least a dozen poorly animated flash versions of it on YouTube, and he's read different versions in a handful of Nursery Rhyme books we have. He knows Humpty is an egg--we all know that--so what made it okay in his mind that Humpty could be a piece of broccoli?

I scoured the text.
I couldn't find the word 'egg' anywhere.

So, cool. Humpty Dumpty is a sprig of broccoli in Sawyer's version. Yeah. Why not?
It was just a toddler having some fun at the dinner table, but it turned into a cool lesson in creative thought for me. By changing the central premise of Humpty Dumpty, a two year old effectively rewrote the nursery rhyme on a whim--and it became instantly more interesting to me. Now that he's a sprig of broccoli, Humpty's story can go in a million new directions--all different from the premise we're familiar with.

Anyway, it was a cue to me not to let ANYTHING get in the way of the creative process--all ideas are okay, just let them come and sort them later.

So, what are your thoughts on creative process? I wanna know.


Michael Mercer said...

Yay I'm first to comment!
Word verification: snusarnu

Will Strong said...

I like the creative process when it's covered in cheese.

Or maybe that's broccoli I like when it's covered in cheese.

Will Strong said...

Thinking a bit more I have to agree that kids are some of the most creative people on the planet. They don't know how to be "wrong" so they never really are. All ideas are equal to them.

I steal ideas from children as often as I can.

Maria Mercer said...

You make a good point. I listen to ballads to get my desire to paint/work going most of the time, but when it comes to creativity I often feel lame. Kids are so great at taking a story and not being afraid of changing it or placing a spin to it that as an adult I wouldn't have considered. I often find myself sitting inside my little generic box redecorating it till I'm bored to tears. So how do you get rid of the adult/societal twisted mind barriers in order to find that child-like kind of inhibition or genius? Prayer? Practice? Are you made that way? Are some artists just doomed to failure because--despite they have great technical skills--they can't make a creative thing to save their life?

I guess it's something that has concerned me lately because so many of my peers (including you) seem to have such vast creativity and I wonder if it's just a matter of practice in thinking or what? Is it the people you work with?

Jeff C said...

My favorite part of this was "I scoured the text." Right...

Anyway, Sawyer is a boy genius.

And I love the idea of analyzing the "facts" that we just take for granted in stories (such as Humpty Dumpty being an egg) and seeing if there's another way we can plumb for deeper meaning or some fascinating derivative by taking something familiar and making it different (this later option may also be known as 'lying'.)

Spencer said...

I've always wondered where the egg came from, and have heard various 'urban legends' about the meaning of this (and other) nursery rhymes.
Also for a great talk on creativity and children, check out ken robinson on Ted Talks.

great comic!

Scott C. Gwynn said...

I suppose the name "Humpty Dumpty" does conjure up a specific shape... I like him better as a sprig of broccoli though.

BH Lewis said...

creative processes aside, we actually had an activity on this very topic in my last Literary criticism class.

M.R. Weaver said...

Someday, sir, you should write a book. Or teach a class. Maybe both.
I had never even /thought/ that Humpty-Dumpty could be anything BUT an egg!
My mind. It has been opened.

Also, I did not know about the satorialist! Thank you for sharing! :D

Rachel said...

I always wondered as a kid why Humpty was an egg, because it never said he was. Then I figured it had to be because eggs are obvious breakables.

He'd probably make a good dandelion puffball, too. That'd be a good reason to want him back in one place. X)

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