My name is Debbie, and I'm an NPR junkie.
I caught part of The Infinite Mind yesterday while out running errands. They were exploring what makes a person a genius. Not someone with a high IQ but who makes breakthroughs in his or her field. As a matter of fact, they said that most of the people we consider geniuses don't have IQs in the upper stratosphere nor did they necessarily do well in school. My explanation for why that may be is that often in formal education settings, we are taught the conventional wisdom. And genius usually ignores conventional wisdom. Thus the innovation.
The part that really caught my attention was the study of what relationship, if any, actually exists between madness and creativity. What the researchers have found is that one particular condition, manic-depressive illness, does occur with higher frequency among people in the arts. Within the arts, writers have the highest incidence, especially poets. The thought patterns in the early phases of the illness are speeded up and extended in unusual ways, thought to cause heightened creativity.
So do we all have to be mad in order to be creative? Of course not. But I think we do have to try looking at things from a different angle. Not only from the way most other people see things, but from the way we tend to view them. Climb on that desk or lie on the floor or use a mirror to look at something you see every day.
In the meantime, I'm a little nervous about taking Ali's poetry challenge.