The Creative Spark

  • by Agustín Fuentes
  • Narrated by Agustín Fuentes
  • 10 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of Jared Diamond's million-copy-selling classic Guns, Germs, and Steel, a bold new synthesis of paleontology, archaeology, genetics, and anthropology that overturns misconceptions about race, war and peace, and human nature itself, answering an age-old question: What made humans so exceptional among all the species on Earth?
Creativity. It is the secret of what makes humans special, hiding in plain sight. Agustín Fuentes argues that your child's finger painting comes essentially from the same place as creativity in hunting and gathering millions of years ago and throughout history in making war and peace, in intimate relationships, in shaping the planet, in our communities, and in all of art, religion, and even science. It requires imagination and collaboration. Every poet has her muse; every engineer, an architect; every politician, a constituency. The manner of the collaborations varies widely, but successful collaboration is inseparable from imagination, and it brought us everything from knives and hot meals to iPhones and interstellar spacecraft.
Weaving fascinating stories of our ancient ancestors' creativity, Fuentes finds the patterns that match modern behavior in humans and animals. This key quality has propelled the evolutionary development of our bodies, minds, and cultures, both for good and for bad. It's not the drive to reproduce, nor competition for mates or resources or power, nor our propensity for caring for one another that has separated us out from all other creatures.
As Fuentes concludes, to make something lasting and useful today you need to understand the nature of your collaboration with others, what imagination can and can't accomplish, and, finally, just how completely our creativity is responsible for the world we live in. Agustín Fuentes' resounding multimillion-year perspective will inspire listeners - and spark all kinds of creativity.

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Customer Reviews

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I’ve probably listened to about 15 books dealing with the history of humanity. One thing they pretty much all have in common is that they generally have some kind of hypothesis, or central idea, that they are trying to support. Some kind of new angle or perspective to help us to think about humanity in a new way.

This book claims to do this, but I don’t think it succeeds. Its central idea is a ‘new synthesis’ upholding the idea that human creativity is the crucial factor defining who and what we are. But really, isn’t this just another way of saying that we are big-brained, clever, cooperative creatures who have exploited the ‘intelligence’ niche in the World? I think it is. We all know that this is what we’ve done, and this author doesn’t add anything new to our thinking on this.

It’s an enjoyable enough book, retelling the story of hominids and hominins and tool-making and becoming successful at hunting, despite our lack of any fearsome body parts such as sharp claws or fangs, and our mastery of fire. I’m pretty easy to please on this front. I love going back to the savanna and imagining how our ancestors used their wits to survive in a harsh unforgiving world.

But there is no new theory in this book. And the final chapter, in which the author dishes out a load of advice on how we should live our lives, based on his now-proven hypothesis, verges on the irritating. But go ahead and listen to it. It isn’t bad, and it’s educational and entertaining, it just doesn’t, in my opinion, contain the new theory which the author claims will better explain the human journey.
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- Mark

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-21-2017
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio