If you’re not already aware of the excellent TED conferences and talks, I would strongly recommend going to their site and having a poke around. There are some fascinating people and ideas featured but be prepared to spend a bit of time: most of the content consists of 18 minute video talks.
One of the best ones I’ve seen recently is this talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of a “journey of self-discovery” type novel which is being made into a movie with Julia Roberts. To be honest, from that description, I probably would have skipped it but I’m glad I did watch it: it’s thought-provoking and in places very funny.
She discusses the idea of “genius” and how the pre-Enlightenment concept of attributing outstanding works of art to divine inspiration/intervention (literally, “having” a genius) contrasts with the modern notion that such works come from within the individual (“being” a genius). “Having” a genius helps the artist maintain distance between themselves and their work, deflecting blame from the self when things don’t go so well and keeping one modest when work is well-received. As she says, it helps avoid the depressive thoughts that make one want “to start drinking gin at 9 o’clock in the morning” and generally helps promote creativity.
What do you think? Sounds pretty reasonable to me and a useful construct for digging one’s self out of rut.