Banqueting Table, Part 2: Thoughts on Genius


I have developed a bit of an old fashion view of “genius”. Roman empire times “old fashion”. “Genius” was a term given to an outside entity of sorts that basically lived in the walls, and helped out with problems and other matters with a “spark of genius,” a kind of superior energy and creativity that had to come through a human vehicle, and come to fruition cooperatively. A person who “had a genius” had to listen to that genius. His brilliant triumphs would not be completely his doing, nor would his failures of genius. Some of the blame or credit was due to the genius. It had a way of keeping people more human I do believe, not puffed up with vanity and hubris, or unduly in despair for a bit of a lazy genius.

Somewhere along the line (I’m guess during the human-centered “reason” and experimentation of the Enlightenment Age) the term genius came to mean “a person who has brilliance”. A deep shift happened, if you noticed. Genius sourced in the person alone. “How advanced and sophisticated,” some might say. But wait. No one could imagine the stress that would put on people, especially highly creative people (think: writers, poets, artists, inventors, innovators, thinkers, etc.) who would now have to be solely responsible for producing genius worthy outcomes, and items, repeatedly.

Ever wonder why genius and madness are so closely tied? I think, that’s part of it. It’s hard to separate the creative aspect from the non creative aspect in a person. It’s hard to not take failure (or success) personally. I do believe it (“genius” or the process of the initiation of the truly great) has something to do with an intertwining, interaction, or crossover point with us and the Divine (our Creator).

A better, and less destructive way to define “genius” is to realize our success and failure is partly our doing, but partly something that comes to us and overshadows us. It’s better to realize the “gift of genius,” which would be not at all personal brilliance that start or ends in an individual, but instead an ability to be aware, receptive, and collaborative with others, and most importantly what must be higher and beyond our ourselves. A “touch of genius” could be said to be when everything involved hits just the right harmonic cord, and something revolutionary is borne, something is unearthed, or a creative act generates new life.

If you were to say, “Lisa, you’re a GENIUS!” I’d smile, and feel flattered for about 2 seconds. Then I’d realized the bigger truth going on. Very little has much to do with me. I’m not a genius, but sometimes I listen and detect better than at other times. To people who’ve heard my thoughts, ideas, or read my papers, they might hear some original thinking, or novel theories, but I really doubt I was the first source for them. At best it was a strange cooperation of experiences, education, preparation, creative exchange and communication, and a touch of something I can’t put my fingers around, and will not attempt to take credit for.

This “invention” pictured here below is a simple example of just a bit of a “touch of genius”. Check it out.

Why is it? It uses resources, readily available, to move beyond their supposed potential for a well-needed purpose. Is it every paper clips destiny? Probably not, but with a “touch of genius” perhaps, a they serve a purpose that is quite helpful and transcends the assumed norm, the typical, or the mundane.

witness a "touch of genius"

photo source

The people of our interactions deserve the same kinds of treatments and communications as these seemingly simple paper clips–At work, play, ministry, home life, social life, and all the rest. It’s the spark of genius, in cooperation with what is above and beyond us, that is needed to produce not what is hoped for or expected, but what is just out of reach, and just beyond our human imaginations. Groups and Communities can link up with “genius” too.

We can only see what’s been done, or what’s right in front of us. “Genius” doesn’t work that way. It’s a way of collaboration, even relinquishment to do the unexpected, even with simple “instruments” to create the extraordinary.

What thoughts do you have about genius?

If this is new to you, or fascinating in some way (positive or negative), please link to this article.

thanks for reading.

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One response to “Banqueting Table, Part 2: Thoughts on Genius

  1. Brilliant thoughts!