As I’m about to watch a movie loosely based on Andrei Rublev, a 15th century Russian painter, I ask myself what does it take to be a creative genius besides being creative? Intelligence? Persistence? Curiosity? A slight case of mental instability? Probably a mixture of everything.. Every so often we are gifted with an individual that has an idea. A thought of how to make our world a better place. I recently read the May 2017 issue of National Geographic in which there was an article about what clues science gives us as to what it takes for someone to have such an exceptional mind that they change the world.
Shortly after reading that article I listened to a podcast called Stuff You Missed in History Class about Jane Austen and how supportive her father was in helping her writing career even in the 18th century when women weren’t exactly expected to be great at anything. Even being an author of fiction at that time was not very well received. But with her family’s support and Jane’s gift and perseverance, she went on to become a world renown author of so many classics. So with these two sources in mind let’s delve into the creative geniuses of history and see if there any connections.
According to National Geographic, at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia where on display are an array of scientific oddities, the one that drew the most fascination was a 46 slide cross-section of Albert Einstein’s brain. I think we can all agree that geniuses like Einstein see things differently than the rest of us–and it’s arguable that they can even see beyond that.
Despite the ancient Greeks attributing genius to an excess of black bile, or phrenologists claiming bumps on the brain were a sign of genius, the fact is genius is too subjective to really pin down. However, the longevity of their impression upon us is certainly a good sign. For example, at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, Michelangelo’s David has been towering over us for the past 500 years.
Measuring someone’s intelligence through an IQ test was at one point used as a measuring stick for genius intellect. Typically anyone with an IQ of 140 or above was considered a genius. However, many future geniuses such as Charles Darwin were once thought of as very average as a young boy. Einstein also famously fared poorly in many of his subjects, excelled at math and physics.
Recent scientific discoveries revealed that when communication between the two hemispheres of the brain are active, genius-like qualities are exhibited. The communication between the hemispheres allows for a more flexible thought process–the brain then loses its ability to criticize itself resulting in more free thought. This would somewhat explain how a genius would be able to see beyond an average person of what is possible or impossible.
Talent also plays a part in a person’s genius. It is thought that Mozart and Ella Fitzgerald had perfect pitch which attributed to their successful careers. Social and cultural influences are an added benefit to the making of a genius. Specific areas of the world that have had at one point been the center of cultural prominence tend to grow clusters of geniuses.
All in all it takes the right amount of so many elements. A hungry mind that craves stimulation, a supporting cast of friends and family, and motivation. A mentor is also key. Leonardo da Vinci was an apprentice to Andrea del Verrocchio, Isaac Newton was an apprentice to Isaac Barrow, Michelangelo was an apprentice to Bertoldo di Giovanni and Domenico Ghirlandaio.
This all brings me to George Lucas. I don’t think it’s crazy to say that George is a creative genius. Perhaps he wasn’t the greatest student in high school, but when he found his calling in film he had a vision that few possessed. He saw things differently like Einstein and Mozart. He knew he was different from most of the other film students at USC, and his instructors knew it too. He had mentors in Slavko Vorkapic, Stan Brakhage, and Sergei Eisenstein. He had his support in his classmates and friends such as Stephen Spielberg, Walter Murch and Francis Ford Coppola. He was persistent in that he had an idea and saw it to the end no matter what the cost, and in that George Lucas changed the world of cinema with the incredible advancement in special effects, stereo surround sound, and breakthrough in digital film technology.
Kalb, Claudia. “Genius.” National Geographic May 2017: 36-55.
“SYMHC Classics: Jane Austen.” Stuffed You Missed in HIstory Class, 29 July 2017, www.missedinhistory.com/podcasts/classics-jane-austen.htm.Powered by Sidelines