Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs

Date

September 22, 2014

Speaker

Joshua Wolf Shenk

Overview

A revelatory synthesis of cultural history and social psychology that shows how one-to-one collaboration drives creative success

Weaving the lives of scores of creative duos—from John Lennon and Paul McCartney to Marie and Pierre Curie to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak—Joshua Wolf Shenk identifies the core qualities of that dizzying experience we call “chemistry.” Revealing the six essential stages through which creative intimacy unfolds, Shenk draws on new scientific research and builds an argument for the social foundations of creativity—and the pair as its primary embodiment. Along the way, he reveals how pairs begin to talk, think, and even look like each other; how the most successful ones thrive on conflict; and why some pairs flame out while others endure.

When it comes to shaping the culture, Shenk argues, two is the magic number, not just because of the dyads behind everything from South Park to the American Civil Rights movement to Starry Night, but because of the nature of creative thinking. Even when we’re alone, we are in a sense “collaborating” with a voice inside our head. At once intuitive and surprising, Powers of Two will change the way we think about innovation.

Speakers

Joshua Wolf Shenk

Joshua Wolf Shenk is a curator, essayist, and author, most recently, of Powers of Two: Seeking the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs (Eamon Dolan Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). His magazine pieces include cover stories in Harper’s, Time, and The Atlantic, where his essay “What Makes Us Happy?” was the most read article in the history of that magazine’s website. His work has also appeared in Slate, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and the national bestseller Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression, edited by Nell Casey. His first book, Lincoln’s Melancholy, was named one of the best books of 2005 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, and won awards from The Abraham Lincoln Institute, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and the National Mental Health Association.

People