In search of your dormant Genius

August 20, 2015 at 11:56 am

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see”. Arthur Schopenhauer’s poetic distinction is as tensile as it is poignant. Today, over a hundred and fifty years after his death, talent is served in a platter at the mercy of a button over dinner. Genius however, has escaped the entrapment of the media moguls and the reason is probably what Schopenhauer was alluding to over a century ago: we cannot find what we are ignorant of needing. 


Image Courtesy: Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig

Image Courtesy: Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig

 Throughout much of history, prodigies were thought to be possessed; Aristotle believed that there could be no genius without madness. Paganini was accused of putting himself in the hands of the devil. The Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso said in 1891, “Genius is a true degenerative psychosis belonging to the group of moral insanity.” – Andrew Solomon

The word Prodigy derives its roots from the Latin word ‘Prodigium’, an omen or a monster, something that violates the natural order. While not all prodigies grow up to be one, geniuses are often burdened by the same accusation. What is this very unnatural manner in which they live that makes them so unique and capable?

As human beings, we share our lives between two worlds. The seen and the unseen. Science and religion may define this in many ways for us, but each of us has our very own personal definition of what these worlds are and what they mean to us. And somewhere in the quiet corners of that definition, lies an equally personal decision each of us may have made for ourselves, to determine what part of us lives in which world. Some are far more invested in the world of certitude and may choose to call themselves realists and logicians and to them the rest seem crazy and sometimes mad. But the ones invested in the uncertain world behind the eye know the landscape within their minds is as real as the ones they see out there and are equally adept in traversing them.

The skin between the worlds often goes unnoticed in the din and clutter that fills our lives. Some individuals however, live at the cusp of these worlds and are able to pull from behind the veil ideas that transform the way the rest of humanity lives thereafter. Genius is that ability. It’s the ability to listen to a language different from what is being spoken around you.

 Music conveys what I feel; I don’t know how to convey through speech at all. I don’t like to speak about the music, either: it speaks for itself. – Evgeny Kissin

This is probably the reason why many geniuses are socially inept. They live a richer life in the unseen world than they do in the seen. Life to them is the act of materializing in the physical world, something they perceived in the non-physical. They may call this inspiration or the whisper of a muse but this is the closest description I have managed to conceive of creativity as any other. Taping an intuitive hit and riding that wave of imagination from the unseen quarters of the mind to the visible clearing that we inhabit. To those who don’t understand it, it will seem like madness, but it is merely the act of traversing between realms of consciousness. Plucking out from one and conjuring it into the other.

 “Creative ideas probably occur as part of a potentially dangerous mental process, when associations in the brain are flying freely during unconscious mental states — how thoughts must become momentarily disorganized prior to organizing. Such a process is very similar to that which occurs during psychotic states of mania, depression, or schizophrenia. In fact, the great Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler, who gave schizophrenia its name, described a “loosening of associations” as its most characteristic feature: “Of the thousands of associative threads that guide our thinking, this disease seems to interrupt, quite haphazardly, sometimes single threads, sometimes a whole group, and sometimes whole segments of them.” – Nancy C. Andreasen

This madness is what it means to be human, doesn’t it? We engage in this madness when we traverse the extremes in prayer or meditation as much as we do in creative exploits and bouts of insanity. The extremes are as much a part of the human experience as the median is. We push our minds the same way we push our bodies. Genius in other words is the ability to be as human as we possibly can. To inhabit both the worlds we are born into, and live in each of them completely. Complete intuition and complete physical reality fused into each other forges a creative experience.

Clarity is an important guide between these worlds. In the certain world, clarity is a need. You use clarity to physically block and allow experiences into your life. You create dams and reservoirs to focus and control this creative flow in your life. This is not the case in the uncertain realm. Here clarity is a goal. It isn’t something you start with, in fact it is something that concludes your journey. You need to wander until you find it and when you do, you are enlightened. You can now distinguish an aspect of yourself in a way you never could have before. You then bring this distinction down to the physical world and allow it to breathe transformation into your life. When you create something, you also create a new you. It is always the art that creates the artist and not the other way around.

At the risk of sounding too romantic, I would gently affirm that creativity is an essential part of the spiritual growth of a human being. The journey through life isn’t meant to halt at limitations, it is meant to glide over chasms and create bridges between worlds. Each one of us carries within us a realm of the infinite. A dimension that is uniquely ours where we can soar further than our thoughts permit us. That is our spirituality and that is where our God resides. We are meant to soar there and meet him midway. This is our purpose. God isn’t waiting for us in books and temples. He is waiting for us in the cusp of the worlds.

“We need to keep populating the world with sound. If you eliminated one thing—if you deprived the world of, say, Brahms’s Second Concerto—there would be something wrong. This world, with that Brahms in it, is my world—and some of what makes up that world comes through me.” – Natasha Paremski, Classical Pianist

It’s important to decipher for yourself what you would want to populate the world with. It doesn’t have to be art limited by its conservative definition. Everything in the world, every object that we touch is a physical expression of a burst of creativity. What then, is the one thing that makes you inimitable in your ability to fill the world with. Your personal magic. Because it is only when you draw the blinds and walk behind the veil, into the realm of the unknown, can you bring back something that the world never knew it needed. The doorway into this realm is your burning desire, and the destination is clarity. This will be your creation. Your human experience. The unseen target that your whole life was drawn as the string of a bow to aim you toward. Your genius.

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