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New Tech Blog: Max On Media
Max On Media is a technology-based blog written by Burke Liburt. Burke Liburt is the co-founder and CMO of SynchroPET, a biomedical device company that has licensed patented nuclear imaging technologies from Brookhaven National Laboratories. He has developed marketing strategies at television groups (Dun & Bradstreet/ ABC Television) and at his own multi-media company. Read Max On Media Now!
Stony Brook Innovation Center Blog

Hidden Innovations

Aug 28 2016

The most helpful topic for an Innovation Center blog would seem to be examining whether innovativeness can be instilled in people the way installing computer programs enables us to do different things, and if so, how is it downloaded, or learned?  Is there a single Skill Set underpinning all the other attributes that are identifiable in the majority of innovators, short of the few savants floating around, and even there?  Do innovations like the light bulb and Internet arise out of nowhere, or evolve as species do: putting similar things together again and again, and how is that done? 



When you take from one person, it’s called stealing; when you take from several, it’s called research.
                        Tony Bennett, by way of Carlos Santana


In case you didn’t know, there’s a PBS talk show called Tavis Smiley, where I got the above quote, which alone (one would hope) indicates that the show is worth keeping on top of.  I’ll go you one better: the quote proooves it is.  So does the rest of the interview with Carlos the Great, which I caught on August 23rd but may have been a rerun.  The program airs at 1AM and repeats the following 1PM, then is streamed online.  I’ve mentioned the one that precedes it at night and follows it the next afternoon, Charlie Rose, numerous times throughout these posts.  ALL fine people being thrown fine questions, delving into fine intricacies of sublime topics like … How DO geniuses like Carlos Santan BECOME one? which might interest students here and there.  You spend a lotta time listening to teachers in class here.  I’m not saying they aren’t first-rate thinkers, as well, BUT … as I b’lieve I’ve said before, a wise man gets wisdom from many sources.  To my surprise, Carlos Santana turned out to be a truly first-rate mind, and as you’ll see if you tune in, many other ones—people who not only changed the way we think about things, but the way we feel about them—think so, too.
If there is anyone here, who hasn’t heard of Aladdin, an Arabian tale in The Arabian Nights, about a poor boy put to work polishing old metal objects for a junk collector, one of which turns out to have a genie that was stuck inside, waiting to be nudged awake, who offers to grant Aladdin three wishes in return for the favor.  According to a great many others besides Carlos Santana, we all have a hidden self like that, waiting to come put.  The geniuses didn’t figure out how to let it out.  They found out from others who’d found out, then sought out the teachers they’d found it out from, and their teachers, to find out how they found out. 
Trickier business than it seems.  Who ARE the masters, for starters?  I just mentioned a rock musician, whom I realized, listening to him by chance, is one.  He mentioned several other musicians.  I started reading a story of Balzac’s called “The Unknown Masterpiece,” which I read about in a book called A Lover’s Discourse, by an influential modern philosopher/literary critic named Roland Barthes, which revolves around the ruminations of a young man about love in a seminal novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, by the towering novelist/playright/philosopher/scientist, Goethe.  Need I add that I was led to the Barthes book by a novel called A Marriage Proposal, by Jeffrey Eugenides, about students at Brown University, who are studying the book in a class.
Near the beginning of “The Unknown Masterpiece,” the work of a painter, whom a shy young artist sought out as a master, is critiques harshly—some might say, savagely—by an older patron, with whom he snuck into the artist’s studio   The patron pinoints a huge problem—some might say, THE problem—in finding your hidden self and becoming a genius.  Reading this virtual treatise on art alone is worthwhile, for changing the way you look at art in museums—and everything else you do—for the rest of your life.  The patron pinpoints how the painter damages the effectiveness of his work by mixing the precision of German masters in some parts of the painting being examined, with the more expressive, emotional method of Italian Renaissance artists in other places.  The patron then analyzes in intricate detail how the damage diminishes the life of the subject in the painting. 
Doing likewise, likewise diminishes your own.  So how do you take from several people and combine them as your own?  How do you find your voice?  All too often, it is mistakenly confused with having a style, which alas is part and parcel of the content, form, and tone of one’s words, the sense of which are again not to be mistaken with their sound.  You find your one and only, unique voice by first mastering your instrument.  And what is your instrument? 
Everything in life is dualistic: night and day, the selves of sleep and those of wakefulness, inside and around us, yin and yang, you and me.  Your voice likewise has two basic components.  The Deal, in all matters of this one and only life you will ever have in all eternity, is to unite them, so they continually complement, reinforce, and feed each other.
I hesitate to say, “In the first place,” this or that, and “Secondly,” the other.  Like breathing in and out, or walking step by step, the Sound of your voice and Sense of your words work hand in hand. 
Do you imagine that the singers and actors you admire just do it, like the Nike slogan, or is it safe to say they study how to speak and sing, breaking them down into their components—volume, pitch, tempo (which is different from timing) and tone (which is different from touch)—and break those down into sub-components?  Mastering them affects the resonance of your voice as much as a concert musician makes an inanimate instrument sound altogether different than a novice does.
You speak (and sing) the way you write.  That’s right, I said sing.  I find it wondrous strange that millions of students spend a small fortune on higher education, and never once in all that time venture—or should I say, dare—to take a shot at singing a single song.  The Whole Idea of an education is to find yourself.  Finding a career is, you might say, a necessary evil.  Who wouldn’t rather not have to? 
I’ve covered more than once how Sound and Sense work hand in hand.  Merely formulating information comprehensively affects the resonance of your voice as much as determining the appropriate volume, tempo, pitch, and tone.
Listen to Carlos Santana and other guests there and Charlie Rose.  They use what I have been calling The Uniform Structure of Information and describe in as intricate detail, throughout these posts, as they describe their answers to question posed by those hosts.  They capture the  inherent musicality of their words, which evoke their emotional significance, as thoroughly, profoundly, intensely, and clearly in “ordinary” conversation as they do when they perform.  I put “ordinary” in quotation marks because, listening to any of them for two minutes, anyone would doubt that they ever—I repeat, EVVVER—have one.  I mentioned way back in the post on                that our very own Dr. Trilling in the Medical Center closes his emails with, “There are no ordinary moments.”  The Question is, Do you find what is extraordinary IN them?  The people who find that, find it in every moment. 
THAT’s the trust that actors and musicians talk about enjoying with each other; that REALLY matters.  It’s no less true in the workplace.  They don’t have to think about the process, anymore.  The process thinks for them.  

Stony Brook University Innovation Center, Stony Brook, NY 11794-3775

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