A Little Night Tafelspitz

Article excerpt

... When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of
good cheer--say traveling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal,
or during the night when I cannot sleep--it is on such occasions that my
ideas flow best, and most abundantly.
Whence and how they come, I know not, nor can I force them.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

So from whence and how do ideas come? The origin of creativity puzzled Wolfgang even as it does contemporary neurocognitive scientists. Perhaps there are conditions that set the muse. But the muse is notoriously fickle and can arrive and evaporate prior to fruition. Mozart's prodigious output--more than 600 works--including instrumental combinations, concertos, vocal works, and operas are ample evidence that even as a child he possessed a thorough domination of the technical resources of musical composition as well as a wondrous imagination. But the font of ideas needed priming, even for one of the great geniuses of civilization. Mozart knew that ideas could not be forced, but must be nurtured, coaxed, and bathed in the proper ambience to be born.

The proper ambience for some recent creativity for aphasiologists proved to be the very streets that once carried the clip-clop carriages of Mozart, Hayden, Schubert, and several Strausses (Strice?). The magnificent Austrian Academy of Sciences building on Dr. Ignaz Seipel-Platz in Vienna, Austria was the site of the 41st annual meeting of the Academy of Aphasia, an organization of neurologists, neurolinguists, neuropsychologists, and speech-language pathologists who have a particular curiosity about the enigma of aphasia. Arthur Koestler is alleged to have once said that creativity is a learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual. Here in Vienna in October of 2003 was the prime opportunity to once again fuse teacher and pupil. The proper broth for the Tafelspitz of creativity during these Viennese autumn days proved to be the chance once again to present, interact, react, and socialize with some of the leading thinkers in the world of aphasiology. Dr. Jacqueline Stark, an American who has lived in Austria for 30 years, took command of the local arrangements and provided an elegant and efficient site for this meeting of minds. The cherubs and frescoes of the building were commented upon and put into historical perspective by Professor Wolfgang Dressler of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and then the program was turned over to the scientists and clinicians who had traveled from Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, the United States, Japan, and all parts of Europe. Papers, symposia, and posters covered such topics as language deficits and basal ganglia lesions; lexical organization as revealed by intracarotid sodium amytal injection; intrasubject variability of cognition and word retrieval; semantic priming in Parkinson disease; the Jackson versus Broca debate of 1868; and impact of resources

restriction on processing nonliteral utterances. …