Posted by: Khepera | Monday, 3 August 2009

The Essence of Genius: Comprehensible, Ineffable…

A colleague sent this video to me on Facebook, and I marveled, even before I watched it, at the very idea of what they were attempting, which is included below. Like so much in our world these days, genius is too often misidentified, misunderstood, exploited, even denied.  We are clear now that genius includes more than intellectual and artistic/creative endeavors, but encompasses a much broader context of human experience.  Some will argue that we all possess some element of genius.  Perhaps, but let us not dilute its meaning in an effort to be inclusive and *even-handed.* Nature is not even-handed, to this extent.  At one level, all aspects of existence are Divine.  Yet, it is safe to say that some aspects of existence, expression and behavior may not seem so.  Part of this exercise, in shifting the context/parameters of our perception is the challenge of stepping outside the enculturated memes and ‘normative standards’, which we digest — and then become — just like the food we eat.

So, then what is genius?  How do we define it, recognize it, engage it, respect it? Is there a difference between mastery and genius, or the latter require the fermentation of the former to reach full bloom?  Clearly, genius is one of those rare things in existence which cannot be faked or pretended, nor is it generally reasonable for one to claim this for themselves.  It is often considered to be, most appropriately, an appellation given or bestowed, one clearly earned by the evidence of one’s ability and works.

A dear friend of mine, and one of the most brilliant/creative folks I’ve met on this planet, has a premise she champions, one which I’ve often wanted to write on…and I’ve finally found the opportunity.  Her premise is that of all the groups and types of people on this Earth, the single most oppressed group is that of genius. Now, before the protests start, simply think of your own youth, your neighborhood, your families, and what happened when someone was revealed/discovered to be a Lebron, Serena/Venus or Jordan;  a Nina Simone, Herbie Hancock or Stevie Wonder;  a Ben Carson or…the list goes on.  Once their gift became obvious & recognizable, once folks realized that this person’s capacity to excel would bring notoriety, recognition, even $$$ to the family, school or community, suddenly they had a limitless assortment of best friends, counselors & advisors, etc. — everyone wanting a piece, and most unabashed in their feeling of entitlement to a piece of something they did not contribute to.

But, let’s get to the video, because the idea of being able to observe, comprehend — and yes, some want to measure — the act of genius itself, in the moment of manifested expression, is unique and exciting.  The issue of individual and collaborative genius(as in a muse, or salon) is engaged, and both are explored.  Granted, this video is but an excerpt of the full session(which I am searching for as I write this), but the premise, the approach is invigorating, and can greatly empower how we prepare our children to engage this rapidly morphing future…

Blending live performances, personal accounts of the creative process, and state-of-the-art brain imaging, this program illuminated questions about whether creativity is innate or learned, whether the innovative brain has distinct structural or chemical features, and whether we can enhance our ability — and that of our children — to be creative.

Choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones, actor Michael York, painter, sculptor and digital artist Matthew Ritchie, and 2007 MacArthur Fellow and “prodigy of invention” Saul Griffith joined neuroscientists V. S. Ramachandran, Nancy C. Andreasen, and David Eagleman to explore cutting edge research into the brain’s creative impulses. The event was moderated by John Hockenberry.

This session was part of the World Science Festival, and annual event you can find out more about through their website. It seems this year’s event is already over.  Forget Disney World, this is where I want to be next year…!


  1. “There are more connectins in there than there are stars in the milky way galaxy.”

    WE are fractals of the universe.

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