Ian McHarg on creativity

“Creativity,” defined landscape architect Ian McHarg, is “the employment of energy and matter to raise matter and energy to higher levels of order.”

This creativity “always shows the tendency to move from a greater to a lesser randomness, from simplicity to complexity.”

Creative fitting, therefore, is “the ability to find of all environments the most fit, and to adapt that environment and oneself.”

The “synoptic attribute,” or metric, by which one might “determine whether any system in fact accomplishes creative fitting” is “health.”

Health is “the capability of recovery from insult,” and a healthy person is “one who not only solves problems but also seeks them.”

These are the key elements of McHarg’s theory of creative fitting, from 1976 lecture recordings, published in 2006 as The Lost Tapes and in 2007 as Conversations with Students.

He summed up:

So, that is the theory. It is simple minded, but then I am simple minded. I am not a scientist. It has to be simple, or I would not have discovered it. It has to be simple, or I would not be able to use it. That is it.  There is something called creativity. We can identify creative fitting. Creative fitting is absolutely required for any system, be it a social system or a natural system. The accomplishment of creative fitting will be revealed in health.

In this video from the 1997 ESRI users conference, ESRI president Jack Dangermond introduced McHarg as the person that “invented many of the concepts of environmental conservation and the notions of using a methodology to do rational planning, considering environmental factors.”

McHarg takes the stage, full of poetry, at 2:30. His talk is in two video parts:

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