Saturday, 6 June 2015

Reader's Question: Could I be a genius?

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Reader's Question: I've read your blog on genius with great interest and find that my own profile fits many of the traits you describe. I've always been highly disagreeable, neurotic, creative, and with a strong dislike of formal education. I've never understood strivers or "head girls" as you mention. For much of my youth, I've heard those around me say things like "you're so smart, why are you wasting it?" or "why aren't you motivated?" or "It's too bad he refuses to live up to his full potential". I don't much like society or the thought of having to make a living (I just graduated university after dragging it out for eight miserable years) and am most content when I am left alone to read books of history, philosophy, poetry, and literature. I've never had much confidence in my own abilities despite lavish praise from others. Could I be a potential genius? Or just a creative person who lacks motivation? I'm not being arrogant here, just very interested in the topic. 

My response: There is always a problem about applying general arguments to specific instances! So the answer could only be - maybe.

At minimum, the genius-type would have to combine high intelligence (or specific ability) with creativity - but the creativity would only emerge once a channel had been found, and motivation evoked.  Creativity and motivation have the same inner source - and the genius-type is inner-dominated.

The genius (like everyone) has a destiny, but is usually very unclear about what that is. Only when he has found that destiny will inner creativity and motivation be triggered. Only if he finds that destiny will he be able to work intensely. So the thing is to embark on a 'quest' for that destiny.

Finding the destiny does not solve the problem of a career - indeed it might make things worse. Plenty of geniuses have made great breakthroughs, or produced great work, but made no money from them, or been denied the credit.

But that may not really matter. If a genius finds what he needs to do - then he will seek-out a way of doing it - the only tragedy would be not to find it or not to do it. What happens then is out of his control.

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Having said all that, genius is rare, and the problems you describe much commoner - especially among men in their twenties-plus.

The problems may simply be part of the endemic demotivation of modern society. Their cause may be that you are adrift- rather than a thwarted genius; that you are cut-off from the primary satisfactions of human life: religion, marriage, family.

One way to think about it is to consider whether you would be prepared to pay the cost of being celibate in order to pursue a creative destiny - this being what many men of genius have done.

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