What Makes a Genius?

Many brilliant, talented and eccentric people have crossed my path over the course of my lifetime, people whose talents and gifts have impressed me and in a few cases filled me with awe and admiration. But have I ever met a genius? Someone who meets the definition offered by Schopenhauer that “Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see”.

There are so many definitions of genius, some depending on high IQ, none in total agreement, all however accepting that you know it when you meet it. Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo spring to mind; Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, Shakespeare and Goethe, Mozart and Beethoven. One might infer from this list that you have to be dead to be a genius, but that isn’t my implication – it’s just a list off the top of my head and I’m sure there are many geniuses alive at the moment.

Returning to my initial question, though, as to whether I have ever personally met a genius, I am inclined to think that I have. I know no way of applying scientific rules to determine whether this is genius or exceptional talent, apart from Schopenhauer’s comment above and another I read somewhere, and have no idea who said it, that if you can imagine yourself creating the product (a work of art, a piece of music, a scientific theory, a work of literature or whatever) then the author of that product is talented. If, on the other hand, the product is so far beyond your imagination that you cannot even imagine the creative processes involved, then it is genius at work.

I am not a brilliant writer, painter or musician, but I could imagine myself writing Dickens’ novels, painting Lowry’s pictures, or writing Beatles’ songs – but I couldn’t imagine producing “Guernica”, “Hamlet” or “The Marriage of Figaro”.

By these criteria, then, I think I have actually met one genius. Possibly more, but I can’t think of any others at the moment. If you are a genius, and I know you, please excuse my aberrant memory, and give me a nudge so that I can include you on my list.

For the moment, then, the answer to my question is that yes, I have met a genius: a man I worked with for a short time many years ago, and whose natural modesty was such that I only realised much later that he actually is a genius. He has now started writing his memoirs, and if you want to decide for yourself whether my assessment is correct or not, you can find out more about him here.  And even if you disagree with me, I think you will find his work interesting and beautiful, and this blogspot well worth a visit.


4 thoughts on “What Makes a Genius?

  1. Well, perhaps you do not consider yourself to be a genius, but it takes a special person to recognize one, to have worked with one and to write the clever, entertaining, thoughtprovoking and informative blogs you do. I enjoyed “meeting” Norman Perryman and will forward his information to some friends, who I am sure will also enjoy his art, his talent and his philosophical perspective. I shall order the book today. As always, thank you for sharing with us.

  2. Pingback: Back To The Future | catterel

  3. Pingback: Once in a Blue Moon … | catterel

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