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Creativity Crisis

Chapter 11


Among the best known and the most intractable problems of teaching is the diversity of the student cohort. On average, half the students are less sophisticated than the other half. If the students are all close to the baseline, let us say the level that you aim at in your delivery, you will have no difficulty stimulating your audience in any presentation or tutorial. If, however, they are disparate in ability and vary hugely in their background knowledge and sophistication, you are likely either to bore the advanced students or bamboozle the beginners.

Confronting this agony is one of the larger challenges of the contemporary academic or teacher. It is part of the reason for the constructivist system of John Biggs, and his allegory of ‘academic Susan’ and ‘non-academic Robert’; because Biggs imagined that the mass education that universities now serve is flooded with unacademic Roberts. Differences in the student cohort may even go beyond the Susan–Robert dichotomy; because there are substantial disparities among students which have little to do with how academically-oriented they are from the outset. ‘I have students in my information technology class’, one lecturer told me:

who barely know basic commands on a computer and I have others who are already programming. How can I satisfy them all? I do not want to abandon the students with difficulties by assuming that they can all already do programming, and I also do not want to disappoint the advanced and eager students, who are well prepared and looking for challenges by teaching them things that are below their competence. I either break up the group—like old style streaming, which seems somehow repugnant—or throw my hands up in despair. If I devote special attention to both groups or even individuals, my workload escalates and I not only become tired with the extra consultations but confused about the standards that I expect of all students. It is a structural mess and my classes lose integrity; they become messier as a result of handling the mess. Instead of a beautiful narrative line, my classes are clogged with incidental explanations as I cater for radically diverse levels of advantage.

This horror of extreme diversity in a cohort has contributed to the disfavour of single-discourse classes. Lectures and tutorials, where everyone in the room listens to just one person at a time, are under a planning siege: we are especially closing in on lectures, because the person speaking is bound either to underestimate or overshoot the capacity of some proportion of the audience. Better, so says contemporary educational orthodoxy, to get the students to teach one another, so that the advanced students (like those who can already program) have new challenges in communicating their knowledge and passing on capabilities, and can therefore take on a leadership role. The more uninformed students get the benefit of special attention and the more advanced students get the benefit of consolidating their knowledge and acquiring new soft skills in teaching, intellectual sympathy and leadership. Assuming that they are successful in sacrificially cultivating their own good will among their potential competitors, the advanced students do indeed have something to gain—because teaching is a great way to learn more—and so everyone is a winner.

Nevertheless, while advanced students now have an altruistic role in ministering to the less advanced, it is unclear that they are being stimulated by the learning that they thought they hoped for in taking the study. As de facto teaching assistants, they will gain much reward and wisdom; but who is serving them in their depth of learning? Who is challenging them with an expansion in their subject knowledge and vision? For students who need to catch up, on the other hand, the idea of being taught by other students may seem a questionable practice, since the reliability of other students relative to the internet is unknown; worse, the substitu-tion of a lecturer by a student seems mildly discrediting. Either the leading student can do what the lecturer does (in which case are the lecturer and university effective and necessary?) or there is a difference in quality and relatively unsophisticated students need to be contented with less quality. Although the arrangement has the appearance of great student-centredness and leadership, it is structurally uncomfortable. Mixing students so that they share their expertise is a mechanical solution, as if the genre of the lecture is at fault and new active learning environments make an automatic and convenient fix, where the speed of one student makes up for the tardiness of another.

Much tension surrounds this problem, and each fix may be suspected of dubious credibility. Because of the embarrassment of both underperforming students and under-challenged students making unhappy company, there is an understandable impulse to blame the student or at least the selection process that seems not to respect the prerequisites. If I teach German on the basis that students have matriculated in German, I should be able to assume that the students read, speak and write German. But it is also unteacherly or educationally ugly to blame students for their shortcomings, because the institution has accepted them and they undoubtedly have enormous potential to become fluent in German as well as having good faith in seeking a knowledge of German in the first place. Thanks to this feeling of embarrassment, neither wanting to blame students nor ourselves, we experience an impulse to blame our tools. It must be the fault of the lecture as a genre. It takes no account of difference. It treats all students as if they are the same, symbolized by the architectural sameness of the seats bolted onto the angled floor. Even the ancient Socratic tutorial has been suspected of the same deficit, because there is only one conversation in the room and if it is pitched at a high level, too many students will struggle and become disengaged, especially finding that the ‘bright’ students who hog all the conversation are daunting and show-offy. Meanwhile, if that single conversation is pitched at too low a level, the advanced students will get bored and fear that they have come to the wrong university. Our reflex is to look around at a mechanistic motif to blame. It is the room. It is the genre. Change them toward active learning and let the students sort out their level with group work.

Against these mechanistic strategies, some of which do not promote creative growth, there is a more imaginative solution which does not entail the abolition of lectures and single-conversation tutorials. They must be structured with a mobile register of intensity, where everyone in the room can find his or her level. In essence, the lecturer or tutor must imaginatively crib the complex, that is, break down complicated things into simple things, but not too simple for the ambitious and well-prepared students, who would feel patronized by material being over-explained. The method used since literature began is to provide constant movement between the tangible and the abstract.

Imagine the typical trajectory of a conference paper or learned seminar among us academics. We present our research by situating ideas among recognizable realities but then move rapidly into theory, either escalating the whole way until the climactic end or perhaps maintaining a kind of plateau of concentrated language of great reward to the audience. We transcend our tangible point of departure, the ‘situated’ field that everyone knows and recognizes, and enter a kind of academic sublime, where we stimulate our audience with new ideas, new levels of synthesis, new abstractions, new interpretations or critiques. We hold this magical intensity for as long as we can, as much of the 20 minutes that we are given at a conference or seminar. The intensity of abstract thought does not waver and, as an audience, we experience limbic comfort in the very motif that the beautiful complex development of ideas can be maintained.

You could represent this as a graph, with time on the X axis and theoretical sophistication or intensity of abstraction on the Y axis. You start by grounding the ideas but ascend upward, bringing the scholars in the room to new insights. The curve that we plot rises constantly, perhaps reaching a plateau but never dipping. There is no need to drop the level of sophistication or intensity of abstract thought. You will not lose your audience in this upward flight, because they are all learned like you; and, given that you only have 20 minutes to seduce the audience, you would not risk a departure from the plateau, lest you disappoint the lofty agreement of minds—all Susans to a fault—who relish the same kind of academic vigour that you do, equally devoted to the quest for ideas pursued at their greatest extension. But that same shape will not work with our students. Across many cohorts, they need to touch base with the grounded level at rapid intervals. You must still lift the language into the abstract and can ascend to heights of theory; but not for too long. You cannot remain at the peak for more than a spell, oblivious to the fact that some students are fatiguing and becoming confused. If you remain too long in abstractions, you will lose a large proportion of the audience.

If, however, you structure your presentation with a dynamic rocking from the tangible to the abstract, you maximize the traction with both demographics: the ones who are hungry to make contact with theory and those who are unprepared and apprehensive about it. The teacher’s knack, if you like, is to oscillate between the tangible and the abstract, on each swing lifting up the level of intellectual ambition but just as certainly returning the focus to the bedrock that it sprang from. This motif of flux does not compromise the integrity of the presentation. It is the intimate structure that also explains how Shakespeare’s plays work or how the Bible works, always oscillating between the basic and the sublime, the prosaic and the exalted. In fact, even as sophisticated readers, we become fatigued if the level stays constantly at one pitch for too many pages. We too require the refreshment of an imaginative flux, pulsing between the abstract and the concrete and frequently traversing the imaginary barrier between them.

Admittedly, it requires imagination to install in a teaching practice, in writing, in conversation. To flux, to respond to a thought that someone will be lost unless the idea is grounded again, like an electric charge that needs to be earthed: this intellectual habit is a simultaneous thinking process, a way of imagining the concrete in terms of the abstract and vice versa so that the two produce an experiential synergy which is also highly pleasurable. One of the loveliest cues that we have for this process is installed in language itself, because language at its most abstract is still only an aggregation of concrete particles, things and actions that have come into contact with prepositions and themselves have crossed over into the immaterial, the abstract, the purely intellectual. Words, too, have traversed the remarkable distance between the here-and-now and the pure, the idea, the Platonic; they slip unbeknown to most speakers between the fact and the notion, between the tangible and the ethereal, the simple and the sophisticated. Every word with the most astonishing argumentative complexity around it has a palpable root in basic verbs or nouns, coupled with some hint of a direction, a relation or a qualification, that is, the system of prefixes which are prepositional in nature. In this way, the introduction of flux between the palpable and the immaterial is not artificial. Yes, it requires imagination to construct, in the same way that thinking of a beautiful sentence requires imagination; but it is inherent to lexical thinking, embedded in language itself, and is by no means foreign to the way we conceptualize anything vaguely ambitious, and especially if we aim to cultivate the imagination.

To flux, to go in and out of a condition, to bend and return in waves, is a crucial aspect of imaginative cognition. There are undoubtedly aspects of thinking that are linear and follow a regular logical process, as with the more unambiguous aspects of accounting. Linear thought is what we seek when we cajole ourselves to remain focused. Goal-oriented thinking is not normally subject to flux and its straight-forwardness would indeed be damaged by distraction. When we seek to eliminate distraction, it is to protect the logical integrity of linear learning, focused study, concerted and methodical concentration. Other aspects of thinking, however, depend on ideas in flux, the fertility of one idea engendering another in parallel or even in contrast, the so-called left-field, the unpredicted combination, the insight from elsewhere that makes an unforeseen match with material already pondered. It is the principal reason why imagination cannot be forced. We do not become more creative through an attempt to think harder, by putting in more effort with the doggedly linear thoughts that we already concentrate upon. It is more likely that we become creative by thinking more widely, with a greater provision of links and a greater distribution of destinations for any given thought.

Creativity enjoys cross-pollination; but florid interference is not necessary to the purpose. The issue is not so much to have infusion from another field of thought or another practice but to gain refreshment from within the same field—with the same discourse—by experiencing it with different levels of intensity. Rather than experiencing the discourse as a simple flow, our imagination prospers through flux.

As often happens in English, we have two words, one Germanic (flow) and the other Latin (flux) that express a somewhat similar idea of fluidity. Both words at various times would have been translated by a single term in other languages and there is a certain overlap with other words in English like ‘current’. However, ‘flux’ is different from flow and, in our context, the distinction is valuable. To flow is to proceed in an uninterrupted channel, to join a constant stream, to be borne along in a continuous tug or force of absorption. To flux is almost the opposite: to change, to move in and out of true, to wobble, to waver somewhat, to let attention slip and return on any given topic, to vary in degrees of intensity among moments of concentration.

The concept of flow has achieved great metaphoric prestige, thanks largely to a book by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who described an optimal zone of absorption, where you engage deeply in an activity of autotelic nature and can forget about time and noise and even your own ego, your own investments, because the activity is pursued self-generatingly for its own sake.1 It is an antidote to apathy, boredom and anxiety, where skill and challenge are in perfect harmony at a high level. It is likely that the brilliant lecturer experiences flow in the course of the allocated 50 minutes, engaging the mind with great intensity toward a beautiful narrative, where the words percolate freely in pursuit of constantly regenerating elaborations. For the audience, too, the state of flow may induce similar charms, perhaps a little rhapsodic, possibly affording a degree of mental wandering and undoubtedly lacking the focus of the lecturer who actively composes the flow. It is psychologically a desirable stimulus: to be borne along by a kind of flow which is rich in subtlety and yields considerable contentment.

Flux, on the other hand, is full of change. You could argue that it is inherent in flow that various currents move simultaneously, slipping past one another, which you can notice in any creek or drain where water gushes along. The water in the middle seems to slip more quickly than the water at the sides, not so much because retarded by the banks but because the water has a tendency to ride upon itself. So if one current moves forward more rapidly than another, it provides a kind of vehicle for another, which can flow yet more rapidly till it encounters greater resistance. The water takes on an almost sinuous quality, dividing into separate streams that continuously redefine one another, as if it is not one continuous substance—which in reality it is, all undifferentiated H2O—but an almost grainy material induced by the flow itself, where different currents take on heightened energy and move more rapidly with greater momentum than others. It is tempting to see a parallel with thought, which might proceed at any speed but accelerates to greater consciousness not because something pushes harder but because thoughts underneath or to the side are also moving and the more energized thought can race ahead with greater vigour.

If it is a useful analogy to thought, the inconsistent flow of water is well described by the word flux. Water responds to pressure in chaotic ways because it slips; liquid is the genius of slipperiness, where ‘parts’ of the volume yield to impulses in dynamically folded pathways. Each part in its turn gives way to the pressure in uneven patterns, becoming mobile where other parts remain inert; and so the liquid slips, passes itself in currents and eddies, with turbulence of a chaotic kind because it is impossible to predict. Your thoughts are always flowing—you cannot stop them—but they seldom flow in a totally linear fashion, as if constrained by the walls of a pipe; and even in the tightest cylinder, those same currents and convulsively exchanging streams exist in miniature. Your thoughts flow according to laws of flux, anarchic laws, where an idea spins off the opportunity of another that advances beside it. This concatenation of unforeseen openings that race and rally through time is the precondition of imagination, where the elastic quality of thought, the ability to stretch upon the instant when copious strands surge in the vicinity, is seized as a runaway idea, a maverick impulse that glides into breakaway, running faster to reach consciousness than the other thoughts that support it.

As in water, thoughts are never discrete particles nor even some slithery plasma but are properly liquid in that the streams that carry a peculiar momentum not only run forward but run out of continuity, tumbling over one another’s course in flowing exchange that we call flux. Each stream has an impact on every other; they are never independent like the electromagnets in a motor but organically pass energy to one another; and as they transfer their momentum, they redefine themselves, shift shape, as one pool revolves to become a part of another. The notion of flow as flux (flusso) is entangled with a process of induction, revealed in words like ‘influx’ and ‘influence’, already used often in the renaissance to describe both disease (influenza) and joy, as with Castiglione’s description of corporal love, which ‘is an influence of divine goodness’.2

If the metaphor holds water, so to speak, life itself may be considered a kind of flow, where no moment is without influence from every other and experience is nothing but the sum of its contingencies. Time, after all, flows; but it is not experienced with the same consistency as the steady revolutions by the hands of the clock; rather, it is experienced through our thoughts as a suite of lulls, and surges, jerks and rhapsodies, calm and interruptions, panic, bliss, seduction, alarm and hope. Time is thus also a kind of current, but in the etymological sense of running (from the Latin currere). Sometimes the word current would simply mean running, as in Petrarch’s line from the fourteenth century that ‘my days run faster than the arrow’.3 Deriving from the image of running, the word current retains its image of running even in describing water. It was used adjectivally, as in running waters;4 but even adjectivally, the current can be seen as a vein, as when the baroque poet Marino speaks metaphorically of inspiration or the running vein of immortal happiness.5 But it is also used as a noun, as in the current of the sea that might carry a boat.6

Thinking surges in currents. It is not flow in the sense of a consistent continuum. We know that for certain types of thinking, it is difficult to experience consistency of concentration over prolonged periods. The reason is not so much that one needs distraction but movement within the material to hand. Thinking of one kind needs thinking of another kind beside it, in the same way that two currents buoy one another along. One of the currents, as it were, is sacrificial. But perhaps not for long. Currents overtake one another with astonishing rapidity. There is always another one that rolls over it; and the most current, in a short while, will also roll under. This condition can be described as flux which, in romance languages, also meant flow, a flow that has rushing perturbations within it. How to translate so many wonderful poetic lines, like the great flux of the sea?7 Or should that be the great flow or flood of the sea? Or perhaps even tide?8

The prestige of flow in the history of ideas is owing in large part to the overlap with flux, remembering there is no distinction made between the two in romance languages. Since ancient times, philosophers warned against faith in fixity. In Heraclitan thinking, everything flows (πάντα ῥεῖ) and everything is subject to flux. You cannot step into the same river twice because it is always different water at each moment: all entities move and nothing stays still.9 This esteem for flux in all things is romantic before the letter, deconstructing the conceit that human monuments outlive us and abide forever. The reality check from antiquity would have special appeal in the Christian epoch, when absolute and eternal immutability was imputed only to God (as opposed to the fickle fluxing gods of Greece) and everything that is not God is in a state of change, in a development where growth ends in decay and rebirth. Only god abides, from the Old Testament to the renaissance. This motif, as the epic poet Ariosto says, ‘made her see that no one, unless in God, is truly contented; because all the other human hopes were transitory and flowing (or in flux)’.10

Although we sometimes associate the renaissance with rigid systems of one-point perspective and Aristotelian definitions of the golden mean, in fact there is a strong undercurrent of organic feeling in writers like Macchiavelli and Guicciardini, a recognition of change as the only constant in life, a sense of the momentary, the unsettled caprice of fortune, in effect the condition of flux. Convergence with Christian belief encouraged a delight in pre-Socratic philosophy; and the sober Montaigne observes that Greek philosophy retained its enthusiasm for flux even in the classical period:

Homer made the Ocean father of the gods and Thetis the mother in order to show us that all things are in flux (en fluxion), nuance and perpetual variation, an opinion common to all the philosophers before his age, as he said—except Parmenides alone who rejected the movement of things, the force of which he made much of—: Pythagoras, that all matter is running and labile (coulante et labile); the stoics, that there is no present time and that what we call the present is only the join and match of future and past; Heraclitus, that a man never stood twice in the same river; Epicharmus … one can never find one mortal substance twice in the same condition, because by the suddenness and ease of change, now it dissipates, now it regroups, it comes and then goes. In this manner everything that grows never arrives at its perfection of being, insofar as its birth is never fulfilled (e naistre n’acheve jamais) nor ever stops as if at an end. Thus, since the egg (depuis la semence), each always changes and mutates into the other (va tousjours se changeant et muant d’un à autre) … always unmaking and destroying (tousjours desfaisant et gastant) the preceding thing.11

Having run through this synopsis of organic philosophy Montaigne concludes with lines by Lucretius, that time totally changes the nature of the world, where everything gives way to the condition of something else; no thing remains in its similar condition; all things migrate and nature commits everything to change and compels everything to turn.12

If the ancients were so sanguine about the disruptive force of fortune, the renaissance intellect could hardly default on classical soberness, disappoint the expected intellectual bravery and recede to an eternal illusion, a fib of stability. Patently the world is in flux and only God, let us say, is constant and abiding. But just because we recognize flux, it does not mean that we love it. On the contrary, it is seen as a danger, a disruption, a risk to be attenuated. There is an inherited reflex suggesting that flux is random and uncontrolled and therefore undesirable, good for nothing or ridiculous13 unless flattened out; and frequently flux is associated with invasion, like our word influx, a condition of migration that nations still fear today.14 If the flux of the ocean is benign, it is just good luck, where it could just as easily have been catastrophic.15

Well into the eighteenth century, flux was associated with caprice, as in a beautiful passage of Montesquieu detailing the mad folly that arises between power and servitude (un flux et un reflux d’empire et de soumission), where your masters hatch the most humiliating labours for you all day long, regardless of your health or age, for the most minor bagatelle or fantasy.16 The phrase flux and reflux is quite old, appearing already in the renaissance Italian of Bandello17 and used often in the theatre of Goldoni, where the coming and going of people is considered mad in a comic vein.18 But in Montesquieu this condition of coming and going (flux et reflux) reflects upon attitudes and beliefs rather than foot-traffic; and because you might expect that attitudes and beliefs might have some moral constancy, the flux is whimful, intellectual disarray. It arises over religion. People are, he says, ‘no firmer in their incredulity than in their faith: they live in coming and going (flux et reflux) that carries them from the one to the other’.19

This fickleness is not the final definition of our concept, which has travelled richly and deeply from the innate organic mutations of nature in pre-Socratic philosophy to baroque aesthetics. The history of flux reached a high point in the seventeenth century in ornaments and architecture which, alas, lie well beyond the scope of this chapter, with beguiling heady spaces where whole buildings—as in the façade and interior of Borromini’s San Carlo alle quattro fontane in Rome—are in flux, convulsively swaying in positive and negative sinusoidal curves. Later again, flux would also be charged with the grand sway of history, the inexorable flow of change that underlies a shift in the psyche, in the very make-up of one generation that distinguishes it from another. So Nietzsche describes the wave of industrial civilization or humanization of European progress in terms of a huge moral and political process that ever more sets itself in flow (der immer mehr in Fluss geräth): this current, if you like, is more uni-directional but nevertheless indicates flux in the sense of change. For Nietzsche, the major sweeping change includes the process of assimilation (Anähnlichung) among Europeans, the growing dissolution from local conditions (ihre wachsende Loslösung von den Bedingungen) that both frees the middle-class and enslaves it to a kind of globalization before the letter.20 For Nietzsche, the flux of history is like a tide, a great swell that brings different opportunities, different thinking, different people. The wave of development, which today we would call a movement, rolls over humanity, redefining aspirations, standards, behaviour, expectations, ambitions.

Nothing that ever unfolds can explain itself in a linear fashion, because it hits up against things that are still, that have inertia, like tranquil pools of water channelled into the torrent. Their flow necessarily forms streams in manifold rhythms of exchange; and this dynamic is essentially what happens when we encounter new ideas. They might initially make a splash, so to speak, but strike the resistance of thoughts and ideas that are already there. There is no empty vessel, where new lessons fill the void; rather material is already there which accommodates the new as an interruption, coping with its impact in a condition of flux. Then because all thinking is also the result of stimuli—either external or generated from within—it always represents flux: it is always that drama like fresh water striking stagnant water or water already induced to move in a similar direction but at a different rate.

Understanding this dynamic must form one of the first principles of pedagogy. Cognition is rhapsodic; and when we seek to introduce new material into someone else’s mind, the intervention delves into consciousness in flux, in disparate degrees of sympathy with the matter, in highs and lows of receptivity, in rushing intensity and serene relaxation. Our best cue for communicating among the eddies and swell of cognitive energy is the imaginative work of writers who handle the abstract by means of the tangible, because their poetic operation is metaphorical, inherently relating the physical to the intellectual or psychological. Some writers directly invite a peculiar intimacy with their thoughts as they come in waves, faithfully representing their dreamlike concatenation, even at the risk of incoherence. Virginia Woolf is a beautiful example, where the slightly disjointed flow of thinking—what I am calling flux—is echoed in the very fabric of the writing, as throughout Mrs Dalloway:

Quiet descended on her, calm, content, as her needle, drawing the silk smoothly to its gentle pause, collected the green folds together and attached them, very lightly, to the belt. So on a summer’s day waves collect, overbalance, and fall; collect and fall; and the whole world seems to be saying ‘that is all’ more and more ponderously, until even the heart in the body which lies in the sun on the beach says too, That is all. Fear no more, says the heart. Fear no more, says the heart, committing its burden to some sea, which sighs collectively for all sorrows, and renews, begins, collects, lets fall. And the body alone listens to the passing bee; the wave breaking; the dog barking, far away barking and barking.

So often in Woolf ’s Mrs Dalloway the image of waves is invoked, concussing and unravelling and recurring. The texture of her prose imitates the folded character of thinking itself, that process of inscrutable sequences and blending, separations and appropriations which becomes creative when it is properly reconciled with its own flux.

For richly communicative and creative teaching, it would be calamitous to lose confidence in this economy of rolling transfers. The two conclusions that we can reach from this discussion are first, that a flux or pulse between the abstract and the concrete is necessary to inclusive communication; and second that the habit, when cultivated, has a higher imaginative purpose. When we communicate in order to teach, it is no scandal that our delivery is in flux; on the contrary, it is more congruent with creative thought, because some flux in the delivery of the teacher can immediately agitate an analogous fluxing condition in the minds of the students; and thus the precondition of imaginative activity is shared in the room. Today, however, the dominant pedagogical forces are hostile to the poetic latitude that we have identified through flux. As the emphasis swings darkly in the direction of learning outcomes and constructive alignment, the likelihood of any appreciation, much less legitimacy, of this fundamental creative condition becomes ever fainter; and meanwhile, great walls of verifiable consistencies, arising from a culture of compliance, make creativity in learning more remote.

1 Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Beyond boredom and anxiety: Experiencing flow in work and play, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 1975.

2 ‘Ma parlando della bellezza che noi intendemo, che è quella solamente che appar nei corpi e massimamente nei volti umani e move questo ardente desiderio che noi chiamiamo amore, diremo che è un influsso della bontà divina’, Castiglione, Cortegiano 4.52.

3 ‘I dí miei piú correnti che saetta’, Petrarch, Canzoniere 366.91.

4 ‘un ruscel corrente’, Petrarch 129.68, ‘corrente et chiaro gorgo’, 227.13, ‘correnti fiumi’, Bembo, Asolani 3.1.

5 ‘Lungo il suo piè con limpid’onda e viva / mormorando sen va soavemente / il destro fiumicel, da cui deriva / di letizia immortal vena corrente.’ Adone 10.71.3–4.

6 ‘Corre la navicella e ratta e lieve / la corrente del mar seco la porta’, Adone 1.124.2.

7 e.g. ‘del gran flusso marino’, Torquato Tasso, Gerusalemme liberata 17.25.6.

8 ‘Col gran flusso del mar quindi condutti / i naviganti per camin sicuro / a vela e remi insino a Londra furo,’ Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando furioso 8.26.6–8.

9 ‘τὰ ὄντα ἰέναι τε πάντα καὶ μένειν οὐδέν’, Plato, Cratylus 401d.

10 ‘Poi le fece veder, come non fusse / alcun, se non in Dio, vero contento, / e ch’eran l’altre transitorie e flusse / speranze umane, e di poco momento;’ Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando furioso 24.89.1–4.

11 Essais 2.12.

12 ‘Mutat enim mundi naturam totius aetas, / Ex alioque alius status excipere omnia debet, / Nec manet ulla sui similis res: omnia migrant, / Omnia commutat natura et vertere cogit.’ Lucretius, On the nature of things 5.828–31.

13 ‘Ce grand flux de raisons dont tu viens m’attaquer / Est bon à faire rire, et non à pratiquer.’ Pierre Corneille, La place royale 1.1.

14 ‘La flotte qu’on craignait, dans ce grand fleuve entrée, / Croit surprendre la ville et piller la contrée. / Les Maures vont descendre, et le flux et la nuit / Dans une heure à nos murs les amènent sans bruit.’ Corneille Le Cid 3.6.

15 ‘Et vous n’ignorez pas qu’avec fort peu de peine / Un flux de pleine mer jusqu’ici les amène.’ Corneille, Le Cid 2.6.

16 ‘Il y a entre nous comme un flux et un reflux d’empire et de soumission: elles font toujours tomber sur moi les emplois les plus humiliants; elles affectent un mépris qui n’a point d’exemple; et, sans égard pour ma vieillesse, elles me font lever, la nuit, dix fois pour la moindre bagatelle; je suis accablé sans cesse d’ordres, de commandements, d’emplois, de caprices; il semble qu’elles se relayent pour m’exercer, et que leurs fantaisies se succèdent.’ Montesquieu, Lettres persanes 9.

17 ‘Aveva egli in consuetudine ogni sabato, per via del flusso e reflusso de l’Oceano, navigare a Bruscelles e, veduti li conti del suo fattore, tornarsene la domenica a buona ora in Anversa.’ Bandello, Novelle 4.7.

18 ‘Ha la porta di dietro; pazzo, pazzo! Sempre flusso e riflusso. Ha la porta di dietro, pazzo!’ Carlo Goldoni, La bottega del caffè 1.5, 1.9, 1.13 or Le donne gelose 3.4.

19 Montesquieu, Lettres persanes 75.

20 Friedrich Nietzsche, Jenseits von Gut und Böse 242.

Creativity Crisis

   by Robert Nelson