The Professor of Contemporary Thought … and A Little Lateral Thinking

Will Self Lateral Thinking

Writer and commentator Will Self talks to journalist Stephen Smith about Lateral Thinking in the recent BBC Radio 4 broadcast of ‘A Little Lateral Thinking’.

Will goes on to explain how predictive texting is another example of lateral thought. It learns the names of people he  knows, makes ‘Will-like’ suggestions for words and even challenges his habit of falling into “very, very easy rhetorical tropes of one kind or another”. He wonders if predictive texting encourages him to break out of the some-old, same-old. Actually, he hopes it might just write his next book …

While Dr Edward de Bono created the term and formalised the process, Will Self believes the origins of Lateral Thinking go further back in time.

The gold mountain and the fruit machine

The philosopher David Hume, in the 18th Century, said there’s nothing particularly unusual about the idea of a mountain. And there’s nothing particularly unusual about the idea of gold. But if you put them together you’ve got a gold mountain.

You need to visualise the imagination as being a one-arm bandit, and when you pull the handle, there are many, many different reels turning inside it. And every time they stop, since it’s random, they’ll be aligned to release a new idea. A new gold mountain. And that’s the main part of de Bono’s theory.

I understand my own creative process, and they [his ideas] come from the fruit machine.

The beauty of Lateral Thinking is that it taps into the fruit machine inside all of us. Anybody is capable of creativity providing we have the tool to unlock it. Listen to the BBC Radio 4 broadcast to hear how de Bono trainer Peter Lewis helped a team at Oligvy Change turn nine ideas into ninety.

Listen to the full broadcast of ‘A Little Lateral Thinking’ here.

More from this series ‘A Little Lateral Thinking’:


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