My Answer to John Nash
Excuse me, I’m just figuring out what to do with my Nobel Prize money. Allow me to back up just a bit:
A couple of months ago, you may recall, I bought a didgeridoo. A didgeridoo is a long wooden tube that is played by Australian Aboriginals. I returned home full of high anticipation, only to be totally let down by the fact that I could not master it in five minutes. In fact, it took me a good three weeks to produce a convincing and sustained sound.
This got me thinking. In a previous blog, I reasoned that the didgeridoo never should have been invented. Consider: You encounter a piece of hollowed-out log in a rainforest somewhere. Hmm. Might make a good telescope. Nope - glass hasn’t been invented yet. A periscope, then. Scratch that - you need a submarine to attach it to.
Okay, how about tooting into it? It turns out hollow logs aren’t like other wind instruments. If you try attacking it like a trumpet or a trombone, the best sound you’ll get is some "Blazing Saddles" beans scene noises.
So a sane individual should have given up after five minutes. The only reason I kept going was because I had heard other didge players. I knew you could get these things to rock. But First Didge Guy, what did he or she have to go on? A jungle gorilla orchestra? Keep in mind that the Wright Brothers saw birds in flight. They knew flight was possible.
Innovation is based on the idea that.you are willing to expend time and effort on initial failure for the long-term reward of possible success. What keeps you going is either the accomplishments of those who have blazed a trail before you, or something you can observe in nature.
So here I am, out in the back yard, soaking up the
The one thing John Nash and I have in common is overlapping psychiatric illnesses. Last week, I had the opportunity at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting to listen to both John Nash talk about his recovery and an expert expound on the neural basis of creativity. At the APA**,** Nancy Andreasen MD of the
Thus, the three most important discoveries of the modern scientific era, Dr Andreasen said, had something to do with schizophrenia. What are the odds of that?
You don’t necessarily have to have schizophrenia. A mere suggestion of schizophrenia will do just fine. So will bipolar. Just enough to loosen up the micro-components of one’s thoughts and put them back together in a startlingly original whole. From gook to gobbledygook to E=MC2.
So here I am thinking:
Because they gave up, that’s why They weren’t crazy. Yes, they were curious enough to try an experimental toot, but there were walruses to hunt, berries to gather. Thus, all over the interconnected world, spanning thousands of years, we had hollowed-out logs by the gazillions and not one didge.
Now we change locales to
" the rest is history, or, to be more precise, pre-history.
So here I am in southern
But the didgeridoo? There was no inevitability to this breakthrough. That is my answer to John Nash’s games theory.
I hope I don’t have to share my Nobel Prize money with anyone.
John is an author and advocate for Mental Health. He wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Depression and Bipolar Disorder.