I criticized avant-garde artists for their craziness, all the while explicitly aiming for craziness as a scientist! In effect, I was teaching my students to be avant-garde scientists, and trying myself to be an avant-garde scientist, yet somehow failing to notice that this outlook had transformative implications for my view of avant-garde art.
Just like me, avant-garde artists are trying to be “crazy”, hoping to make that next non-incremental advance. There’s a method to the madness: the madness is a fundamental facet of the mechanism of the creative process, a process that eventually can break new artistic ground.
Hmmm. I agree insofar that science requires a shot of intuition to make significant advances. I’m not sure, however, that either art or science need be “crazy” to do that, in the stereotypical sense of some eccentric artist getting naked in public or building a sculpture out of her nail clippings. (I’m a watercolorist; my art is really restrained.) But I do agree that creativity is important – much more so than many young scientists starting out believe. It’s hard when you realize that the hardest part of doing science isn’t all the hours spent hunched over the bench – anyone can work long hours – but the need to come up with good, innovative ideas, and keep coming up with them.