Enjoy Your Friends and Be Glad You’re Not a Genius
Richard Gleick talks about one vital trait geniuses all seem to share.
James Gleick knows from geniuses, having written well-regarded biographies of Sir Isaac Newton, and theoretical physicist Richard Feynman. The two brilliant men were very different on a superficial level. Newton was argumentative and anti-social, Feynman was outgoing and charming. And apparently a great dancer.
Different as they were, though, upon reflection Glick came to the conclusion that in one critical way, the two men had one thing very much in common: a solitary immersion in their work that allowed those incredible minds to leave everyone else in the dust.
Gleick considered other geniuses from history and realized, ”They all had the ability to concentrate with a sort of intensity that is hard for mortals like me to grasp.”
It seems obvious, really, that getting so intensely good at something means spending a lot of time alone. No one develops genius-level skills without having put a great deal of time honing those skills, whether you’re a Michelangelo, an Einstein or a Beethoven.
Music, in fact, is full of artists whose lives on the outside of Normal gave them the time alone they needed to pursue their passion, which, as Gleick notes, “doesn't lend itself to easy communication,” further reinforcing their isolation. Bach was a crank, Brian Wilson (of the Beach Boys) was an abused child hiding in Four Freshman harmonies, and Prince was a shy, quiet kid practicing endlessly on guitar. In fact, scenes in the video for his song “Musicology” depicts those early days.
Whatever the field, an intense interest and the joy of mastery seems to drive the genius away from normal life, and often from other people. Even when they’re social animals like Feynman, where a genius really takes flight is only in his or her own mind and imagination.
Headline image: AFP
Could this be the long-awaited solution to economic inequality?
Under capitalism, the argument goes, it's every man for himself. Through the relentless pursuit of self-interest, everyone benefits, as if an invisible hand were guiding each of us toward the common good. Everyone should accordingly try to get as much as they can, not only for their goods but also for their labour. Whatever the market price is is, in turn, what the buyer should pay. Just like the idea that there should be a minimum wage, the idea that there should be a maximum wage seems to undermine the very freedom that the free market is supposed to guarantee.
Humans evolved to live in the cold through a number of environmental and genetic factors.
- According to some relatively new research, many of our early human cousins preceded Homo sapien migrations north by hundreds of thousands or even millions of years.
- Cross-breeding with other ancient hominids gave some subsets of human population the genes to contend and thrive in colder and harsher climates.
- Behavioral and dietary changes also helped humans adapt to cold climates.
It's unlikely that there's anything on the planet that is worth the cost of shipping it back
- In the second season of National Geographic Channel's MARS (premiering tonight, 11/12/18,) privatized miners on the red planet clash with a colony of international scientists
- Privatized mining on both Mars and the Moon is likely to occur in the next century
- The cost of returning mined materials from Space to the Earth will probably be too high to create a self-sustaining industry, but the resources may have other uses at their origin points
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