On Genius

What is genius? It’s not necessarily a high level of intelligence; instead, it’s more about a willingness to capture an insight.

Over cider last night I had a rather enjoyable conversation with a young man whom many consider a genius. He ostensibly enjoys convos with me because I ‘get it’; does that make me a genius?

It made me consider the nature of genius. True, there are those whose mental processing is faster and clearer than the rest of us. But I think that those who focus strongly in one area are just as capable of being considered a genius as the others.

The genius factor is not so much a clear intelligence, as it is a willingness to accept that radical ideas can be possible. This requires two things. The first is an ability to see (or accept and grasp a flash of insight that enables you to see) connections between things that other people either don’t see or choose to ignore.  The second is an enquiring mind that is not restricted by usual paradigms.

One can have an enquiring mind and be completely restrained by paradigmatic belief, which is going to stop you from exploring radical ideas.

One can also have radical ideas, and an enquiring mind existing in the right conditions,  but an unwillingness to grasp a thought opportunity.

The greatest thinkers of humanity have always advocated thought experiments,  time with radical ideas, grasping and writing what they learn. It is not so much that they channel things from the universe as that they read (or explore) enough in a field to allow their minds to make tenuous connections.

In many cases, if those tenuous connections were ignored – or, worse, laughingly dismissed – nothing would come of them.

Yet that feeling when your brain starts to connect things – and you see a big picture something all at once – is something that’s hard to ignore. I’ve been struck by it and sat down to write theory for fourteen hours at a stretch. This fella I had cider with has been struck by it while sleeping and written it down so it won’t be lost.

So if you aren’t capturing those insights you have, I’m not sure why not. Possibly the feeling freaks you out and you write it off as anxiety, and go take medication instead.

The risk is that those who “don’t write” can talk about their philosophies, theories, and predictions, but they won’t go anywhere. The rule is to write.

And in writing, you free your mind of those connections, creating space for more of them.

Allow me to quote Michaelaneglo, in amongst whose papers was a note to his apprentice:

Draw, Antonio, draw, Antonio, draw and do not waste time.

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