The Unconscious Mind of John Cleese

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John Cleese Content Marketing World

No person may be accurately defined by one thing. But as convenient shorthand for a lifetime of achievements, let’s say John Cleese is a member of the British comedy troupe, Monty Python. I’d write the legendary British comedy troupe, Monty Python, but nothing makes comedians seem less funny or relevant than referring to them as legendary. That Mr. Cleese is still funny should not be a surprise. What did surprise me when I saw him give the keynote at Content Marketing World 2015 was that he liked to quote academic studies.

Academic studies are not typically funny, at least not on purpose. That these were referring to what makes people creative (or not) did not subtract from their seriousness. This is a big question, and as such it requires a serious, studious response. But to hear that response from a man who once said, “Your mother* was a hamster and your father** smelt of elderberries” made me smile.

Then there was the rabbit.

The hare brain, to be specific, antithesis of the tortoise brain, where one puts one’s self in a creative place via a dreamlike state (Edison), or by thinking with body parts that have no business coming up with, say, the Theory of Relativity (Einstein), or by slamming your office door in someone’s face (me, hopefully, someday.)

It seems creative people use their tortoise brain more frequently and effectively, aided by an ability to easily recall and participate in a childlike state of play. Mr. Cleese mentioned a study of architects, where those who were considered to be the most creative incorporated play into their thinking: coming at the problem from different directions and allowing themselves not to make a decision, at least not right away.

At some point in all of this, Mr. Cleese stopped talking to the audience and began talking to the audience and Content Marketing Institute’s Robert Rose while seated in a comfy-looking living room chair. More studies were quoted, although there was no quantifiable evidence proffered to back up his winking claim comparing Cleveland, home of Content Marketing World,  to something I cannot mention on a corporate blog. The claim that fellow Monty Python members Terry Gilliam and Eric Idol had extensive creative talents that did not include their ability to act in movies could at least be studied in greater detail.

I soon got the distinct impression that Mr. Cleese had been in his tortoise mind recently and had requested that his unconscious work on his speech and hand it in to his hair brain for the finishing touches. In situations where mammals, reptiles, and English commingle, some interesting and inspiring effects may be experienced.

These effects may include creativity. I hereby volunteer to be part of the academic study.


*Not mine. King Arthur’s.
**Possibly mine, but more likely King Arthur’s.

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