André Cassagnes, A Great Visionary Has Passed On

Thanks for visiting The Harrison Center for Personal Development. The site is focused on how to improve people’s live through visionary thinking, skilled problem solving and through Applied Game Theory.  Please explore our website and our many unique blog posts. Each page has something different to offer  the creative thinker who has a passion for ideas.   There are some ideas presented here that might be new to you and which may inspire your creativity.

Today’s blog l addresses the problem of intellectual elitism and arrogance In my work in applied game theory and problem solving I am often accused by academics of presenting complex ideas in excessively superficial and simplistic ways and  by my blog readers as presenting idea that are too hard to understand.

André Cassagnes a great visionary, inventor of kites, the Etch-a-Sketch and other children toys  most likely affected your life or the life of your children in some way. That is correct? Andre Cassagnes has left building, flown the mortal coil, and left the earth to meet his maker.

“Andre who?” You say!

I’ll tell you more about this great visionary in a few minutes but before I tell you who he was let’s talk a bit about what it means to be a visionary?

A visionary is an individual with clarity of thought, and a passion for a clearly defined experience, as well and foresight on how that passion may manifest.

How does the visionary process evolve for someone who is content to just have goals?   It often arises when a person combines his natural curiosity with a sense of deep introspection. In time this evolves into a passion so vast in scope that it can be described as nothing less than a “transcendental vision.”

Can you recognize a visionary when you meet one? At the first meeting probably not. Over time, you notice he/she is different than the ordinary person. In conversation this person may appear particularly intense but not in a negative way. He/she is not the type of person inclined to banter around light cocktail party conversation or enter into a conversation about the weather. Of course this is all a generalization. Visionaries are unique unto themselves and tend to express who they are in different and often unusual ways.

In my experience a focused and skilled visionary is a force of nature. What he is able to do is change the external landscape, enroll large groups of people into his vision, and harness as well as utilize formerly dormant resources in the service of his vision. He is able to shift opinion and impact society in ways usually associated with the most skilled futurists, economists, and influence peddlers.

To speak with a visionary is like conversing with any “true” artist. It is not always easy to follow the stream of thoughts expressed by a visionary and yet you understand that something unique and interesting is being presented.

Why is this so?  A visionary is often inclined to speak of an ideal that seems totally unrealistic. Imagine speaking to the Wright Brothers – two bicycle manufacturers – a year before they took flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903. Imagine speaking to Gandhi or the inventors of the personal computer, the telegraph, the telephone, the ballpoint pen, or robotic surgery before their visions took form.                                                                                                                   If a vision seems so unrealistic why do these visionaries continue working to bring them to fruition?  They just think differently than the ordinary individual. The perception that a vision is unrealistic does not deny the fact that there is a delight in having the intention for achieving and experiencing that ideal. Often it is the hunger, the desire, the joy and the intention that in the end brings the vision to fruition.

This being said about visionaries let’s get back to the late, great Mr. Cassagnes, a visionary inventor, electrical technician the greatest kite manufacturer in France and the inventor of the “Etch-a-Sketch. ”. Yes, the Etch-a-Sketch. .

To some an Etch-a-Sketch.  is some mechanical drawing toy from the 1950s. But for the individual with a passion for ideas and a vision it is so much more.  What André Cassagnes figured out was a recipe for creativity that would use the laws of physics and mechanics to stimulate the artistic impulse in a child. In addition this invention would improve hand to eye coordination, and expand a sense of awe that is the cornerstone of any happy childhood. This is what he did and it was probably not even what he had in mind when he created the toy. He figured out that if you did the following

….You could create one of the most wonderful toys ever invented…without electricity, software, Apps, spam blockers or IT specialists.

  1. Take a thick, flat gray screen and put it in a in a red plastic frame.
  2.  Add two knobs on the front of the frame in the lower corners. The left control would move the stylus horizontally, and the right one would move it vertically.
  3. When twisted this moving stylus would displace aluminum powder on the back of the screen, leaving a solid line.
  4. The turned knobs would then create lineographic images

I often write about “Black Swans Theory” –  Unexpected events with great consequences. It was such a event that effected Cassagnes’ life

André Cassagnes’ father was a baker. Andre’ was to be a baker as well however he was BLESSED with a terrible allergy…to flour. So instead of becoming a baker he focused on a different life path beoming one of the greatest kite designers in history and later invented the Etch-a-Sketch. .

I know that somewhere there is a neo-modernist-postimpressionist-dada motivated-conceptual artist who began his career on an Etch-a-Sketch.

What he created on the world stage was so influential in some un-measurable way that on his passing he way was awarded an obituary in the February 16th 2013 issue of the magazine THE ECONOMIST. In the world of power and influence this is considered one of the great honors.

Below is a joyous salute to Mr. Cassagnes created on an Etch-a-Sketch.

Be a visionary! You’ll be happier for it and the world will be a better place.


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Lewis Harrison is the founder and director of the Harrison Center for Personal Development. He is a radio talk show host, speaker, consultant, practical philosopher and Contemporary Spiritual Teacher. Lewis is a pioneer in the personal development movement The author of nine self help books on human potential he offers a monthly retreat/seminar “How to Solve Any Problem”.  He also and phone based coaching.   This blog is explored more fully through Lewis’ Kindle E-book “Healing Depression Naturally”.

Listen to Lewis on the radio on his show “That Was Zen, This is Tao” every Wednesday and Thursday 4-6 PM

Lewis is the creator of the “Free Advanced Course in Personal Development”

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