Sunday, September 17, 2006

Two Kinds of Geniuses

Wired asks us What Kind of Genius Are You? David Galenson's answer gives all of us 'late bloomers' some hope of impending attacks of genius:
“What he has found is that genius – whether in art or architecture or even business – is not the sole province of 17-year-old Picassos and 22-year-old Andreessens. Instead, it comes in two very different forms, embodied by two very different types of people. “Conceptual innovators,” as Galenson calls them, make bold, dramatic leaps in their disciplines. They do their breakthrough work when they are young. Think Edvard Munch, Herman Melville, and Orson Welles. They make the rest of us feel like also-rans. Then there’s a second character type, someone who’s just as significant but trudging by comparison. Galenson calls this group “experimental innovators.” Geniuses like Auguste Rodin, Mark Twain, and Alfred Hitchcock proceed by a lifetime of trial and error and thus do their important work much later in their careers. Galenson maintains that this duality – conceptualists are from Mars, experimentalists are from Venus – is the core of the creative process. And it applies to virtually every field of intellectual endeavor, from painters and poets to economists.”
(emphasis mine)

I've talked about this a LOT recently with various friends and business associates. It doesn't seem far fetched as an idea, in fact it seems almost commonsense - yet I suspect that there is a subtlety to Galenson's idea that commonsense misses. The early geniuses are actually not that successful later in life - it is not just that their early success is what is most well-known. Galenson actually considered cold, hard cash value of their works.

Story via Jeff Putz.

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