2.15.2004

True genius is not finding out that 'silence' rhymes with 'violence'. True genius is not beating mailboxes with baseball bats as you drive by in a car. For me to see beauty in an idea, my definition of genius, there needs to be two things: synthesis and emergence.

Synthesis takes two different and unrelated (not necessarily but the more unrelated, the better) ideas/objects and merges them together to make something new.

Emergence occurs when two ideas/objects merge and a property emerges from the entity that neither of the components possess on their own.

Synthesis does not guarantee emergence but emergence requires synthesis. Taking different things and making them new is one of the best things we, as humans, have ever come up with. It is the basis of our innovation and what drives our curiosity. Tolkien, despite what I think of his execution (average), gets a nod from me for a masterful merging of his love of languages with a European mythology. Gehry took curvilinear design and brought it to achitecture. Dirac took his knowledge of math and applied it to the physics of his age. These are examples that I would choose of stunning synthesis and emergence. Each of us admires and respects different types of achievements so take those you would choose to describe as genius (if you capable of the act) and determine if it was the result of synthesis/emergence. I'd be willing to bet that the answer is that it was.

Those who say you can't get something from nothing are wrong. The act of creation lies hidden in making two things into three.