Came across this beautiful presentation today on creative genius.
Elizabeth Gilbert talks about how artists of all sorts have this sudden flash of insight and inspiration when everything comes together and works in concert to produce a brilliant piece of work. She talks about the unpredictability of such flashes of brilliance and inspiration, and how this puts undue pressure on the creative artists.
Today we have this notion of someone "being" a genius. Elizabeth mentions that the Greeks didn't believe that genius was something intrinsic to a person, but was something that came from the outside. You were not a genius. You had genius with you for a short duration of time. Genius was something external to you, that visited you for a while.
This is a fairly odd way to look at things, but I can understand how this can take a lot of pressure off of the creative artists when they mentally separate that sudden flash of inspiration and brilliance from themselves. All of this should have neurological explanations, but its still interesting to see how previous civilizations coped with ways to deal with the unpredictability and magnificence of such flashes of insight.
Another interesting tidbit. She mentions how people in Northern Africa used to chant Allah, Allah, Allah when they saw a beautiful, almost transcendental, dance performance. They saw that performance not as a work of man, but as a manifestation of God. When the Moors invaded Spain, they took this tradition with them, and this chanting of Allah, Allah, Allah changed to Ole, Ole, Ole that is so synonymous with Spanish music today. Interesting.
Have fun watching the presentation.