Is boredom a precursor to creativity, is it a state to be avoided, what about when a child comes to their parents and says “I am bored”, as if it is a problem. And where does the relentless stimuli that comes from smartphones fits into this?

“Through desire the child discovers his solitude and through solitude his desire. He depends upon a reliable but ultimately elusive object that can appease but never finally satisfy him. But from the very beginning, quite unwittingly, he has involved an object. “The subject” Jacques Lacan writes, “has never done anything other than demand, he could not have survived otherwise; and we just on from there”. We follow on in a curious solitude à deux called the analytic situation. And in that setting we find, again and again, that the patient is faced with the risk of entrusting himself. Indeed, one of the aims of the analysis will be to reveal the full nature of that risk.

On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored, Adam Phillips


What is the risk of solitude? and boredom? Is it induced through the self reflective state, though inward looking? And what is the connection between risk and creativity (/design)?

Winnicott tells us that an infant attended to when crying can imagine realities beyond their field of view.

“From this developer a belief that the world can contain what is wanted and needed, with the result that the baby has hope that there is a live relationship between inner reality and external reality, between innate primary creativity and the world at large which is shared by all”

But the parent will also need to show the limits of such relationship between the imagined and the world, through disillusionment.

“The nearest that can be offered to the child is the grown-up’s wish to make the demands of reality bearable until the bull blast of disillusionment can be borne, and until creativity can develop through mature skill into a true contribution to society”

The Child, The Family, and The outside World, Winnicott

Limits to such connection between the imagined and the capable, sound very similar to bounded creativity, and constraints.

“If the bored child cannot sufficiently hold the mood, or use the adult as an unimpinging auxiliary ego, there is a premature faith from uncertainty [ … ] the ordinary boredom of childhood is the benign version of what gets acted out, or acted out of, in what Winnicott called the antisocial tendency. But as adults boredom return us to the science of inquiry, to the poverty of our curiosity, what the simple question, What does one want to do with one’s time? What is a brief malaise for the could becomes for the adult a kind of a muted risk. After all, who can wait for nothing?

On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored, Adam Phillips

This raises the question of what exactly is creativity, and what is its relationship with knowledge, risk, solitude and boredom.

Is creativity about making the unknown actionable?