Perhaps the most illustrated and famous mushrooms are the ones known as fly agaric. The bright color is no doubt what makes them attractive and that’s why they’re chosen to create a whimsical setting in storybooks. Some have thought them to be the inspiration for the mushroom in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, due to their psychoactive effects that could indeed make one feel smaller or bigger. Reindeer actually adore these hallucinogenic mushrooms and will actively seek them out to eat, causing rather odd behavior, so one has to wonder if they might feel like they’re actually flying. This has led others to suggest these mushrooms even inspired the colors used in Santa’s suit and the key magical elements to that story. And, for anyone who loves video games, Super Mario wouldn’t be the same without a little fly agaric power-up to make the character larger or smaller. Despite being classified as poisonous, their unique qualities have fascinated humans and inspired stories for centuries. That’s quite an impressive feat for a little bit of colorful fungus.

It’s always fascinating to me to learn the origin of stories. I love finding out bits and pieces of things that might have inspired the original creator. And the level of imagination in these stories has created something timeless and memorable. I was reading an article today on the rapid increase in robotics and all of the jobs it would displace in just the next decade. One area that was still considered “safe” was a job requiring true creativity. Despite all of the incredible enhancements to artificial intelligence, it’s generally believed that there’s always something missing that will never quite replicate the creative human brain. This was indeed comforting for me to hear, as what I would assume is missing from our robot friends is that ability to be completely illogical. To make impossible leaps of thinking and connect dots that simply don’t fit together in an expected fashion. Algorithms by their very nature work with existing content and ideas. They can make predictions formed through patterns, but they can’t replicate magical thinking. Those broad imaginative leaps of thought that have created most of the stories we hold dear to this day.

I find it rather funny that we’ve reached a time when a creative job is consider a “safe” path. So many people share a story of parents who discouraged them from going down an artistic path, fearing they couldn’t get a job. Now, we’re rapidly reaching a place were those skills will be coveted. Sure, scientific and programming skills will indeed be highly sought in the future. But, it’s nice to know that creative humans will still be in demand to help guide our robot friends and give them the imagination they’ll still be seriously lacking. Though technology can make our lives easier, only we can make our lives truly enchanting. I finished the article, no doubt meant to add a bit fear and sensationalism, just feeling grateful to be human. It’s extraordinary to possess the ability to invent stories and create art. And it’s an ability that we’ve all have from the day we were born. Sure, it’s entirely possible we could simply grow into a society that doesn’t care if something is creative and unique. But that’s not a story with a happy ending, so I’ll leave that to other more apocalyptic writers. In my story, I have to believe that artists and writers will become even more important to society. As they continually confound and confuse those inferior robots with strange and impossible ideas, like those beloved, whimsical tales inspired by storybook mushrooms.

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Day 4 - Fly Agaric Storybook Mushrooms Watercolor - Sketchbook - Doodlewash

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21 thoughts on “Storybook Mushrooms

  1. Whenever I read about that kind of thing it makes me think there must be a stopping point – what could does it do to produce whatever you are selling if no one can buy it because they have no jobs? By eliminating too much of their workforce companies also decimate their customer-base. I just finished reading the book ‘This Is Your Brain on Parasites’ which explores scientific studies done to see how much our behavior might be controlled by parasites and there is a growing belief that it’s a lot more than we’d like it to be. Let’s someone doesn’t figure that out and create parasites for AI’s that would add the creative element.

    1. Yeah, it’s weird, odd and at times scary the world that we’re hurtling towards. And since there are so many viruses in software, I’m quite there will be some parasites. But, I feel that as long as though of us who care continue to care, they’ll at least be a counter-movement of real thought and creativity to combat it all! 😉

  2. I saw a program a few years ago wherein Stephen Hawking laid out the top 10 ways he thought the universe might end. One of those was a robot uprising. Hmmm?? Maybe a superheated planet might be a good way to go.

    1. Yeah, I think we’re certainly gearing up for our own extinction. There are just so many options we’re putting in place it’s anyone’s guess as to which will win! lol We’re going to need some really creative people in the future to get through it! 😉

  3. Your mushrooms are the perfect shade of red! I think Artificial Intelligence will eventually encompass even creative endeavors. Research on the brain indicates that creative thoughts are simply new connections between already-existing neurons. I don’t see any reason why similar connections aren’t possible in an artificial brain. It’s nice to think that humans are special in their capabilities, but with AI, we’ve created a force more powerful than ourselves. Many experts believe that AI will control humans in the future.

    1. Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 Yeah, I think the difference is a distinction between scientific thinking and true creative thinking. Those connections exist scientifically, but they don’t explain how and when we chose to make them. That moment and timing is the essence of true creative thought and it’s not predictable. I worry that people will not care about that in the future. That they simply will no longer be able to notice the difference.

  4. I imagine the world will be a boring gray world if we lose the creative side. I hope I am dead by then if it ever happens! For now, I will continue to imagine and create art… many forms. I love these mushrooms. I always say your pieces are beautiful or wonderful because they are. I really need to come up with some new adjectives 😉 or get a thesaurus. Do they still make those? Hahaha.

    1. Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 Hehe… I assume they still print the Thesaurus, but I only use the online one. And indeed, if the world forgets what creativity is, that would be a gray day indeed. Then the robots will well and truly win, so I propose we band together to never let that happen. Let’s just keep painting and imagining!

  5. I’m rather fond of those red ‘shrooms — always have been. I remember drawing them from about the time I was ten, but I never knew they had a real name till now! Ah, the internet — learn something new everyday and most of it is accurate! It’s a splendid rendition of them, made me smile.

    I remember those days of college when I said I’d get a teaching certificate if I could major in theatre. Well, I did the theatre, bagged the certificate and took forever to find my niche. Life’s like that — so happy the creative world has opened up. I’m impressed with Ohio State’s med school which has a Medicine and the Arts program where they encourage their med students to have an art and practice it — music, painting, photography, sculpture, dance, whatever. Because it’s critical for docs to have an outlet that is creative and different from those life and death decisions. It’s critical for everyone; it’s just that not everyone recognizes that!

  6. One of your best posts ever, Charlie.You put so much thought into this and did a great deal of research. And the painting of the magic mushrooms is beautiful. Yep, these are the ones, the ‘shrooms of wild imagination with all their red temptation and polka dotted whimsy. Many of my favorite memories of teaching art to kids is when they pushed their own creative frontiers and made something unexpected. The robots will never be able to replicate imagination or soul.

    1. Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 This was something that I’ve been considering a lot lately so I’ve been doing a bit of reading on the matter. And I agree!! We like to think we understand how the brain works, but then scientists have to admit they had more to learn. I hope we own the fact that we haven’t learned it all before we declare we’ve been able to replicate it, but that’s not usually how humans work. You hit it on the nose though… robots will always lack a soul, making them far inferior to the mysterious human.

  7. Such great thoughts – and you are seriously creative genius to go from mushrooms to these deep, important thoughts! LOVE it!! Such an inspiration you are Charlie!

  8. The wonderful color caught my eye; it is captivating.
    So is the article. The magic is more than grand. It
    is truly magical. “Do reindeer really know how to fly?”
    Your subtle reference has that song dancing in my
    head. That gave even more impact to the proposition
    of robots and how far we will allow them to impinge
    on our lives. It had never occurred to me that the
    creative arts might be the only secure job, but it is
    a delicious thought and it just might pave the way to
    world peace. Creating instead of destroying is a
    super way to live one’s life..

    1. Thanks so much, Sarah! 😃💕 Yeah, I have to believe that creativity will someone win in the end. If it doesn’t… we’re in for something horribly dull and tedious. But I think creative people have the best opportunity these days!

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