Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies

Csíkszentmihályi Mihály on Robertson Davies on “a chance to recombine in new ways”

Robertson Davies, the Canadian author, said one of the most important things in his life was being able to take a nap every day after lunch for twenty minutes. That’s for two reasons. One is that by developing a schedule that’s under your control, you are not being flogged around by life, as he puts it; you are not always jumping to someone else’s tune. You develop your own rhythm of work and rest. The other thing is that it’s during idle time that ideas have a chance to recombine in new ways, because if we think consciously about solving a problem or writing a book, then we are sitting there forcing our ideas to move in a lockstep, in a straight line, and probably what comes out is not very new or original.

For original ideas to come about, you have to let them percolate under the level of consciousness in a place where we have no way to make them obey our own desires or our own direction. So they find their way, their random combinations that are driven by forces we don’t know about. It’s through this recombination that something new may come up, not when we try to push them directly.
Csíkszentmihályi Mihály (also transliterated as Csikszentmihalyi Mihaly, Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) as interviewed by Michael Toms in the New Dimensions newsletter. QOTD for 08.18.2011. Submitted by Kathleen Magone on 08.13.2011.

Robertson Davies on perception

…the eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.
Robertson Davies in Tempest-Tost, (Toronto: Clark, Irwin, 1951), p. 127.


This quotation is frequently misattributed to Henri Bergson. Here is the most similar Bergson quotation I was able to find:

For, however extraordinary the coincidence, it becomes acceptable from the very fact that it is accepted; and we do accept it, if we have been gradually prepared for its reception.
Henri Bergson in Laughter: An essay on the meaning of the comic, translated from the French by Cloudesley Brereton and Fred Rothwell, (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1914), p. 93. Originally published as Le rire: essai sur la signification du Comique, (Paris: Alcan, 1900).

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"For, however extraordinary the coincidence"