Monday, February 28, 2005

what is genius?

We (I and my friends) got into an argument one fine day as to what 'actual' genius is (I warn you, the erudite guys we are, we never try to arrive at a solution/explanation). My friend was peeved at the level of physics, as a subject, that was taught to us in school-time (essentially Newtonian) which essentially was quite "disproved" in this century by Einstein and likes. He said - "We were all fooled man. go and read recent research in quantum physics anywhere. U ll know physics is 'actually' nothing of what Newton said or even Einstein for that case.." That Newton/Einstein fooled us (or rather himself). what he said then is not 'remembered' exactly here. but the point was not 'fooling' but being wrong. The earlier theories were many times intuitively guessed, he ridiculed. That he has fairly good amound of physics up his head should be easily inferred from the fact that he is aware of the latest happennings of disproving of what Einstein said during his times. But what he seemed to miss was, according to me, "everybody will be disproved in physics" (put in real crude fashion!).
Anyway getting back... The earlier theories were many times intuitively guessed, he ridiculed.
Thats when I actually got hooked in after thought-wise-loitering around the fringes of the "topic" (we used to fondly call our discussions so), thanks to my poor knowledge in physics.
"In fact, Intuition (that whether I meant 'correct' intuition is not answerable now without references to Rashomon!) is Genius", I asserted. Anything gotten out of pure theory already laid out or derived out of existing theory is 'ordinary' (compared to the intuitive kinds!)
I seriously felt so. That I myself found it an intuitive thing was not able to give any formal proof. But to prove anything, I go to maths (which i find so closely resembles life). Talking about proofs and intuitions, one person who comes to my mind is Srinivasa Ramanujan. He was so used to 'finding' (yeah, finding!) mathematical relations that, he actually could not offer proofs to most of his theorems. Some he felt was very obvious that the proof went without thinking.(something like 'goes without saying' for mundane people like us). And some he could not even if he tried to go to lower level debug trace of his mind. It was his friend/associate who took the burden of proving some of his theorems. He found the genius in Ramanujan (thats another level of intellect, u know? identifying genius, like what i am yapping about now). Ramanujan was a genius. Not because, many of his yesteryear number theory theorems are being used currently and are actually rite. Even if some of the mathematical theorems/figures/relations (what he did was not essentially some useful things, u know?. he suddenly thinks of whats the sum of factors of n! which had no reason to be thought upon but for pure pleasure of maths!) were wrong or will be proved wrong. That he conceived all of them in his mind is what makes genius. If the idea conceived is wrong, perhaps, thats flawed genius; But Genius, nevertheless!


  1. Hi Nilu!
    Thanks for visiting this relegated-step-child of mine!

    Somebody has actually read this blog of mine. Its been long since I created and I never kept myself coming into it again.. I ve start writing here again.

  2. One interesting point that struck when reading the post is the identification of genius.

    In the Amadeus scene when Salieri takes dictation - and cannot keep pace with Mozart, one of the basic things characteristics that is visible is the fact that Salieri can atlast 'read' the music. Basoon A Minor for 3 beats means something to him. We - the audience need it played in the background to experience it.

    So for all the villany of Salieri - or atleast showing him such that his appeal is largely to out more 'human' sides - he is certainly someone we cannot 'judge' in our current standing as 'philistines'.

    It takes a Salieri to evaluate a Mozart.
    Can the likes of us, claim to enjoy Mozart ? Perhaps not in equal measure. We are surely not justified in calling Mozart a 'genius'. I personally wouldn't know genius here if it hits me on the head. And even the 'here' in the previous sentence is just my ego refusing to be muscled down.

    Now think of Peter Shaffer who wrote this scene. Where would we place someone who conceptualized this scene that traverses across mediums to communicate what it does. That is !