These are the sounds a postman collected for his friend in the movie “Il Postino” (The Postman, 1994). “Il Postino” is about a friendship between a postman on a small island in Italy and a world-famous poet Neruda. The postman collected these sounds for Neruda who left for his country after teaching him about love and poetic inspiration. The sounds approach Neruda audience as the most beautiful and creative poem.
Just like the postman’s collection of sounds, anyone can collect something that means important to them. Anyone can create a huge property of creativity by looking closely at things around them.
“I started writing my own encyclopedia when I was 14,” said Bernard Werber in his book “Encyclopedia in All Departments.” “It was like a storage of junks and I put everything I liked in it.”
Werber is well known for his vast amount of unorganized yet interesting knowledge in his books. Collecting ideas is the secret of Werber’s worldwide popularity. Creativity naturally displays in something one can enjoy and love. Observing, thinking, and collecting with curiosity leads to an unexpected situation and opportunity.
Collecting is a process of fiercely diving into life: Looking at plants and objects more closely, touching and turning them into a very private experience. There is no correct way of getting to know something; therefore there is no useless collecting. Whatever it may be, investigating, researching, and connecting the information to myself in various ways in order to accumulate your own data-your creativity will arise.
This effort must begin from a minute observation. For at least three minutes, the more the better, investing time on a certain object allows the train of creative thinking to begin. If that does not occur, it means one has only “observed” with his or her eyes. All five senses-seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching-must be used to investigate as if it is the very first time. When that does not seem to work, try sketching. The ability to draw is not a concern. Recording what was seen and felt has to go on paper. Even better, make a replica. Identifying a concept, writing out what is in the head and making a three dimensional replica is a primary creation process of an architect. Anyone can make a progress of their own creative collection through the steps of drawing, taking pictures, molding clay and more.
Collecting provides us with a way to look at the world in a different way. Having a closer look, scribbling about a discovery, tracing down the origin and sensing the world with every senses-this is collecting. Try “collecting” by finding new meanings in something you used to pass by without noticing. Collecting is a concrete firsthand experience. This process and consequences will someday lead you to encounter fragments of creativity.
By going through the activity of collecting, and by rethinking about creativity, students may feel as if their lives have changed dynamically. I hope many Ewha students can read and understand this process. I very much hope that Ewha students can find joy in living creative and happy lives through my writing.
* Professor Cho Yunkyung (French) graduated from French Language & Literature at Ewha Womans University, has a master’s degree from Ewha Womans University and a doctoral degree from Paris III University.