Popular wisdom holds that “curiosity killed the cat.” This phrase is used to warn people against being to inquisitive for their own good. If you don’t ask questions, you won’t find out any information that could get you dead. Eliminating curiosity is good for people or organizations with something to hide. It also good for those who want to exert dogmatic control on their followers. However, humans need to be curious. It improves imagination and leads to greater creativity.Continue reading
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Heroes of the Haunted Mansion: Yale Gracey
Yale Gracey joined the Disney Company in 1939 as a layout artist. He worked on “Pinocchio,” “Fantasia” and “the Three Caballeros.” In 1959, Walt Disney set Gracey up with Rolly Crump and gave them a large room on the second floor of the animation building. They were instructed to come up with effects for the Haunted Mansion.
As the son of an American Consul, Gracey grew up in various places and had to learn to entertain himself. He filled his days with “Popular Mechanics’ and the book set called “Boy Mechanic.” He also practiced magic.
Gracey had no formal training in special effects, but his curiosity often led to him building miniatures to see if he could get an effect to work. According to Bob Gurr (Kurtti, p. 72), Gracey was given the time and space to tinker without deadlines, and Walt was fine with whatever new thing Gracey invented.
Gracey projected the face of the Magic Mirror on everything in the room one day. It led to the development of the Madame Leota effect (Kurtti, p. 73). Gracey also put the Pepper’s Ghost effect to use in the Haunted Mansion to create the Ballroom scene. Gracey died under mysterious circumstances in 1983.
Gracey tried to do new things. He tinkered, and he followed his curiosity. You can do the same thing. Follow your curiosity and create something new.
Sources: “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic” by Jason Surrell.
“Walt Disney’s Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park” by Jeff Kurtti.
For more on creativity and the Haunted Mansion, get “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” online or at the Candy Cane Inn in Anaheim.
For more on Disneyland and Creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” For deep thinking about the Disney Company, check out “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”
You can also find more articles about Disney, Disneyland and creativity at our archive website, www.penguinate.weebly.com, and on our blog. If you would like to get even more articles about creativity, join our Patreon and become a Penguinator.
Want a More Fulfilling Life? ‘Curious?’
In “Curious?,” author Todd Kashdan writes about several different ways to get more out of life. From taking on mundane tasks to exploring once-dismissed activities, Kashdan says curiosity is the way to make life more fulfilling. Too many times, we shut off our attention to a task, which leads to a missed opportunity to be in the moment while opening up the mind to negative self-talk.
Kashdan urges people to engage their curiosity through practice. The steps of practice he suggests are:
- Choose something you consider an unappealing activity.
- Do the activity and look for three novel or unique things about it.
- Write those down and discuss them with someone else. (Use our comments section below!)
Kashdan uses this technique when he changes his daughter’s diaper, and when he does, he always finds something pleasant. He gets “a moment to reflect and feel close to my little one. Instead of losing a moment, I gain one” (p. 82).
In much of the first part of the book, curiosity is linked to creativity. Be curious, be more creative, and live a fuller life. For more on creativity and curiosity, check out “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative,” and “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improve Your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”
Curiosity, being childlike and Questlove’s experience getting older
Being childlike is important to creativity. Children are curious; they ask questions about everyone and everything. They don’t care who is better. They don’t care about their egos. They don’t care if someone is stepping on their own creativity. They play with abandon and talk to famous people with the same irreverence as the talk to their parents and friends.
“When I was ten, I was curious with reckless abandon. There wasn’t any fear about consuming things: if they interested me, I took them in. I ranged far and wide because I wanted to see what was out there,” says Questlove. “Now that I’m older, I’m more cautious. I’ve whittled my influences down to my pantheon of drummers and singers and guitarists, and it’s hard for new people to crack the shell.”
In “Creative Quest,” Questlove calls this a “hardening.” He says that there are some artists about whom he “feels a certain way,” which he explains is “nuanced form of snark.” It allows him to slow roll “whatever envy you admit by not admitting.”
This not-quite jealousy keeps Questlove from listen to a few artists “at all.” It may be that he doesn’t want to be influenced by or learn more about the artist or he feels a certain way, and “it gets worse with age.” Questlove recognizes this as a problem, this “brittleness,” and he says that as a person ages, he or she is going to have to deal with it.
There are a million reasons why its hard to be curious as you get older. Even with the Internet, it’s harder to satisfy that curiosity. Who has time to find out and understand why solar panels work? Who wants to learn new information that could challenge old, long held beliefs? Who wants to find someone younger doing something better in the same field wherein they both work?
It’s easier to keep on living with the information that one has accrued and not to challenge that status quo in one’s own life, even when one specifically self-describes as a creative. It’s much harder for people who think they’re only a little creative or they’re not creative. However, adopting a childlike acceptance of your own limitations and taking wonder in what other people are doing in your field (like children at play) will help you become more creative and have better ideas. It’s in the challenge and the questioning of the status quo that creativity thrives. Find the space that allows you to play, to be curious and to create.
For more on creativity and Questlove, check out: “‘The Pirate Union’ and collaboration” and the links at our Creativity page.
If you liked this essay, you can get more in ‘Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.’ To improve your creativity, get ‘Disneyland Is Creativity.’