What an interesting question ... in order really to
be able to answer it, one practically needs to have
gone through the process oneself! I'll give it a try
First, to what does 'genius' in the question refer?
I'll assume that it refers to two different (but perhaps
related) action states:
- functioning at very high levels in one or more areas
(intellectual activities, performance activities, etc.).
This includes being able to do things that few others can
do, but might not involve much "creativity".
- creating powerful, paradigm-shifting ideas, works,
theories, etc., that revolutionize the way we see, do,
or think about things.
So, to the extent that my thinking matches the question,
how can one notice when one's abilities develop to very
high levels, surpassing those of most others, and/or how
can one notice that one's ideas/works have developed to
the point where they can rightly turn the world upside down?
These may not be so difficult to notice. Let's say you
are developing a skill, such as playing a musical instrument.
If you get extremely good at it, you and others are bound
to notice! If you can play passages that others can't play,
and further, you feel them and their unique meaning and so
are able to play it "just so" ... that's an indication that
you've grown into a new realm of ability.
On the other aspect, let's say you've been thinking about
some problems or difficulties that exist in some field,
and suddenly you have an insight that reorganizes everything
into a larger elegant pattern. Suddenly it's all simple and
light, and you smile with wonder and ecstasy! You share that
pattern with others, and lightbulbs turn on in their heads.
Before you know it, people are excitedly talking about your
idea, which has taken on a life of its own. That seems like
an indication of potential genius ... at least a flash of it.
If you continue turning out other ideas with similar effects,
that too might indicate a habitual genius state.
I can relate a few examples from my own life to help
illustrate what I mean. This is not to say that I'm claiming
I'm a "genius," but I think that someone becoming a genius
may well have similar experiences, amplified to higher levels.
I once learned an electric guitar piece that required a lot of
energy and precision; it was challenging. When I finally got it,
I could hardly believe it! I played it for a friend, and he
actually cried out in surprise! The feedback was clear and
powerful ... I'd developed to a new level.
Now, take that kind of event, and consider this: you 'hear' in your head music that has never existed on earth before, and you try to play it. One day, you succeed ... and now there is this exotic new music that you can deliver to others, and some stop in their tracks, their jaws drop, their eyes roll back in their heads, and for an eternal moment they are lost in a new musical world that they never knew existed before...
I once was very much interested in increasing my intelligence, and
so was somewhat interested in taking IQ tests. On some tests
early in the process, I felt "challenged," "weak," "a struggle,"
etc., but I kept learning about intelligence and especially its
component skills. At some point, I took another test, and it felt
easy, simple ... it was a breeze! I felt very good, strong,
natural, relaxed, clear ... and the score (160) seemed to reflect
this. I thought, "how perfectly obvious!" If you function at
a high level of intelligence, then things would seem simpler,
clearer, etc. Thinking would seem more natural and would tend
to flow quickly and easily!
Now, take that to a higher level. Imagine being so good at it, that one almost instantly arrives at the answers, sees the patterns almost immediately, has things click right along one after the other, and before you know it, you've proven a new math theorem ... or pulled together some disparate data in such a way that it makes startling sense and pops out an obvious explanation that no one had thought of before.
And finally, I once went through the 3-week brain-building
marathon described by Wenger in How to Increase Your Intelligence. I worked for hours every day doing the various exercises, and slowly but strongly I couldn't help but notice a new aliveness and alertness that I didn't have before. Experience continually seemed "fresh," and my awareness was "opened up" to a great degree. I noticed things that many others didn't seem to, or took for granted ... and many "normal" things took on exotic aspects that gave rise in me to wonder, humor, perplexity, transcendence.
My hunger for knowledge grew great in intensity, and I plowed through many books, one after another, without needing much rest in between. Something about my consciousness, perceptiveness, associations seemed to have shifted, and this effect continued noticeably for about 6 months after the "marathon."
Now, imagine that carried to higher levels and longer time durations... I remember seeing a few pictures of Goethe, and I immediately recognized this kind of special aliveness and alertness about him, however crudely captured by the artists who drew him. I saw sketches made by Goethe, da Vinci, Michelangelo, and others, and there it was again ... that special unmistakeable representation of influx of life, awareness, subtle energies, intelligent sensitivity, into the works. See the great care and detail and fullness that Victor Hugo put into his novels, and there it is again.
Now, after having written all of this, I'll say ... that as you
develop higher and higher into genius levels, you cannot help but
notice it! It will be pervasively obvious... Further, I submit
that when you build into that higher realm, ironically, you won't
care any more about noticing it ... you'll be having too much fun
doing things, exploring, creating, sharing, pushing further and
Perhaps my best answer to your question is this: Try doing
whatever you can to grow and develop into higher levels of
ability and creativity, and pay attention to what you notice
along the way. Eventually you will experience at least
glimmerings of your own answer to the question, and maybe
you'll even experience the full sunrise of the dawning of
your own brilliant genius... [ Back ]
Johnius Ecstaticus von Luminessenz, 4-11-04