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It would be a mistake to think all geniuses are to be found in the sciences; or as engineers or inventors. That would straight away exclude all sorts of alternative and motley geniuses and limit our survey. My definition of genius, if you need reminding, is “an extraordinary intellectual power especially as manifested in creative activity” …
Isaac Newton would make most people’s genius list, so is probably the least provocative of mine. Newton was born in eastern England’s Lincolnshire in the mid seventeenth century, son to a share cropper. There were no signs of genius early on. In fact, the only event recorded of his early life involved his being bullied at school. The best he might have expected from life was to leave school at twelve and become a share cropper himself. However, a local landowner saw potential in him and arranged and paid for him to complete his schooling (where he blossomed in his final year – as a seventeen-year-old) and so to Cambridge University.
Here begins a short series on geniuses. Prompted by the fact that, in my subjective and opinionated opinion, there have only been four true geniuses, plus a motley tag-team.
[Can you think who they are? Who would you include?]
For every medal celebrated there are dozens who didn’t make the podium.
If the medallists were winners, were the others losers?
What is winning? It’s by no means standard, even at the Olympics: some win by being first across the line or to the end of the pool. For other sports, you need to hammer the other guy, or bullseye the arrow, or dance your horse the best, or be the best kickflipper, or maximise air time and minimise horizontal travel (as in the trampoline)!
Golds come in all sorts of packages.
A news commentator recently said, “We’ve lost the ability to disagree.”
The 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof examines issues like tradition and the mixing of competing values; the place of love in long term marriages, and the repression of Jews. Characters are forced to examine the views of outsiders, and how their own views need to change and accommodate – often to compromise long held beliefs.
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