The Creative Genius


I love TED Talks, in 20 minutes my mind can be expanded so much. I always go back and re-watch, I take notes and I sit and think, and I think hard. One of my favourites is Elizabeth Gilberts talk on "Your Elusive Creative Genius".

In this particular talk Gilbert discusses the idea of the creative genius:-

People believed that creativity was this divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source, for distant and unknowable reasons. The Greeks famously called these divine attendant spirits of creativity "daemons."Socrates, famously, believed that he had a daemon who spoke wisdom to him from afar. The Romans had the same idea, but they called that sort of disembodied creative spirit a genius.

In it Gilbert explains more about the idea of genius and how it all came about and how people did that great thing of wanting to be the centre of the universe, "Hi everyone, it is all about me". How they started to believe that creativity came solely from the self. How an artist could be a 'creative genius'.

Gilbert poses the idea that this is a lot of expectation on a singular individual. Gilbert asks if we really have to think this way. Do we have to place this large idea of attainment on those that want to be artists, musicians, writers?

I'm going to hold my hand up and say I want to be a Gilbert-er*.

Although I'm not about to say that the walls are talking to me and telling me how to make art, my (and yours) subconscious is a powerful thing. The subconscious has the ability to remember things that the lucid mind can't always. It has the ability to process the world around us in fascinating ways that are truly unique to the individual.

Gilbert shares a conversation that she had with Tom Waits, who managed to identify that his inspiration didn't reside necessarily inside of him, that sometimes it might come from the big black nothing, and this realisation he had, it lessened the anxiety around creating music.

And surely that is wonderful? To know that if it's supposed to be yours, wether it comes from your subconscious or the big black nothing, it will come to you eventually.

For myself, (who constantly and consistently berates myself for not fulfilling this supposed genius inside of myself), the idea that this genius pops in and helps when I need it the most, is freeing. The theory that my genius will see me working and push me further and into spaces I hadn't thought of is exciting.

I don't believe in a god, and I don't necessarily believe that someone is watching over me. (Curious incident though, discussing my beautiful late Grandmother and I dropped tea down my top, the patch of wet made a perfect heart over my chest). I do like to believe though, that when I most need it, when I'm really arguing with my own ideas, my subconscious is going to sidle over to my inspiration and go "Remember this" and it'll work perfectly.

Which is to say, that I want to say that all my ideas come from myself; but sometimes that idea is so deeply nestled in my subconscious that I just need to give it time, and enjoy myself looking for my creative genius.

You can watch Elizabeth Gilbert, Your Elusive Genius here at TED talks.


*Yup, just made up a new word, I'm good with this. Sorry, Granddad.

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