On the consequences of "Romantic Genius"
Recently in my British literature class we were discussing Wordsworth. During the lecture, our professor mentioned the idea of "Romantic Genius" which is roughly when someone, usually an artist, sits in one spot waiting for an epiphany of artistic brilliance. In those days, (and even today) the idea of editing and drafting and mulling over a piece of art, writing let us say, was shied away from. In its place, there rested the notion that creative genius came in bus loads, or not at all; there was no in between, you either had genius or you didn't. There should be no change in the initial artistic product, and it should be regarded as something spiritual almost.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, here it goes:
Ever heard of the terms 'sky hook' and 'crane' typically used in an evolutionary context? Well if you have, then here is my argument. If you haven't here's a nutshell terminology lesson for the two terms:
sky hook: The metaphorical lifting involved in creating or accomplishing some task (whether it be a mere adaptation or an entirely new creation) is performed by a "magical" or "miraculous" event similar to the idea of a crane magically appearing to lift an iron beam 40 stories in the air; it's miraculous and unexplainable.
crane: The same metaphorical lifting process, but performed by small increments and observable, natural mechanisms. The main idea behind this is that no miracle is needed in order to accomplish the lifting task. All that is required is the performing of a small simple function, in order to bring about the eventual outcome: the product of a seemingly miraculous sequence accomplished entirely by natural means.
Why Romantic Genius Sucks:
The idealization of the "Romantic Genius" is strikingly similar to the idealization of creation via a sky hook. Both rely on strokes of brilliance that are non-reproducible and take no work to create other than their miraculous conception. This, in my opinion, is a bad way to view the genius of artistic creation. Viewing artistic creation in this way, I believe, hinders individuals from working at their artistic development if they incur problems along the way. If the classic view of Romantic Genius were not such a large influence today, then I believe that there would be a greater influx of quality artistic creation.
By viewing artistic genius in the sky hook, "Romantic Genius" manner, this creates the impression that there is nothing one can do if there is not immediate, or only subtlety delayed, artistic strikes of lightning. For this reason, I find that a crane based view of the production of artistic genius would result in more artistic output, and output of a higher developing caliber.
Creative Genius via Cranes:
Viewing artistic creative genius in a crane manner allows for their to be a development of artistic ability and proficiency. For example, take creative writing. If a student wants to pursue writing creative works, but has difficulty in producing the first few, then the student may become disenchanted because the creative genius did not come automatically. However, in a crane building framework, where work is done and small progress is made towards achieving artistic merit, the student can work at their writing ability over time and eventually reach their goal. The benefits of following a crane creative framework far out weigh the traditional Romantic Genius framework because genius is demystified and creative goals are attainable through incremental progress and effort.
Thus, creative genius becomes comparable to natural genius (feats of evolutionary adaptation). The adaptability of on organism is no different than the cultivation of creative ability in the human mind. By freeing our minds from the Romantic era dogma of Romantic Genius, the human race can more fully explore its creative potential. It may take a little effort, but that is how the physical world works.
The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller
Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat