The wonderful Copy Me project (previously) has revealed the first installment in its new three-part series on The Creativity Delusion, which takes aim at the "myth of genius," which picks a small subsection of creators, scientists and entrepreneurs and declares them to be "original" by ignoring all the work they plundered to create their own and erasing all the creators whose shoulders they stand upon.
Now what about the word genius?
This is Francis Galton, the guy who coined it. This seems in line with our modern description. So who are those “special few” he was referring to? Whites, who, at the time, were the opposite of the “negro race”. Galton’s 1869 study, “Hereditary Genius”, gave centuries of prejudice a façade of reason and “science”. A century and a half of actual science has debunked any notion of eugenics, but some people still think of Galton’s theories as “real science”.
The myth of the genius and even eugenics exist because of what we want to see. We like simple stories that explain our complex and scary world. We like to be told there’s simple solutions to everything, even to previously uncharted areas such as our complex brains. But the downside is… we only see the destination.
When something appears out of nothing, we think there must be something mystical in the mix. The story sweeps us off our feet with its dizzying array of promises. And so, we refuse to see the road that each creator takes. But the truth is you don’t have to be superhuman to create. It’s all based in ordinary thinking. Every beautiful thing ever created was born out of effort and error. Each maker is flawed, but all it takes is putting one foot in front of the other. Little steps that move you incrementally forward. Sometimes you run off course, sometimes you come to a completely unexpected conclusion.