HOW did you think of that? No idea. It just came into my head… Every week, I start with a blank sheet of paper (well, a blank computer screen) and start typing, hoping that inspiration will strike.
The business and busyness of everyday life provide a rich seam of ideas from which to mine. And, as with mining, sometimes I strike gold first time around and sometimes, despite my best efforts, I don’t – as regular readers will be all too aware!
But usually there’s enough going on around me that all I need to do is simply grab hold of stuff as it goes past. And if I’m ever short of ideas, Donald Trump, Brexit and the monumental injustice of a global economic system that heaps ever greater rewards on the rich, while the poor, disadvantaged and simply hard working, are left to gather up the crumbs, provides an endless source of ideas. Throw in an 11-year-old son, a recalcitrant beagle, a petulant cat and an education and health system at breaking point through chronic under investment and there’s more than enough for 52 articles a year… At the turn of the last Century, ideas were on a grand scale. Marx was writing his theory of capitalism and proposing the end of history; Freud was introducing the hidden world of the subconscious and inventing psychoanalysis; Schoenberg was turning the world of classical music upside down with a scale of 12 notes instead of 8.
In 1905, Einstein overtook Galileo (who had overtaken Aristotle) and published his first thoughts on relativity. As the old Century gave way to the new, someone proposed celebrating it by firing a very large cannon from a very high mountain to put the first man-made projectile into orbit.
Tony Blair celebrated the dawn of the 21st century with a fairground sideshow in a tent in Greenwich. Sadly, the era of monumental theories seems to have passed. But there are still occasional ideas that take our breath away. The world has been transformed by the World Wide Web, an idea dreamt up and bequeathed to the world in a very unfashionable display of public generosity by British computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee. He warned recently that what he conceived as a tool to enhance democracy is becoming appropriated by political forces, using fake news and blatantly corrupt political advertising to usurp democracy with. But I’ll save that for another article.
The ancient Greeks thought ideas were sent to mortals by god-like muse. Maybe they were right. Great ideas may still be out there, floating in the ether. All we need to do to become a poet, artist or inventor is simply to clear our minds from the clutter and detritus of everyday life (the usual stuff of these articles…) and catch them as they float by.