Creative genius and social isolation
The creative genius is often portrayed as a solitary figure. Why is this so?
Firstly, because it is generally true. To be a genius is to possess certain characteristics which are not conducive to wide acceptance by others. One of these characteristics is that one's thinking may simply be too different from others to be readily grasped. In general, people will not marvel at new thoughts: they will look askance at them, and their bearer. In many societies and many times, the thinker of new thoughts is not praised, but attacked; is not courted, but shunned; is not accepted, but opposed. Ill-treatment is often the fate of genius. It is only after many years, sometimes decades, sometimes, sadly after the genius has died, and their ideas prove themselves to be true, that they are finally - and reluctantly accepted. The world is often unkind to geniuses, in person, and only kind to their memories long after they have passed away.
There is another major reason why genius is often solitary: necessity. A genius cannot create while surrounded by social distractions. A genius must be alone to create, in whatever field they do create. Their thoughts must be uninterrupted, unbothered by others. Most people of genius do not mind solitude - indeed many like it - for it is when alone that they may be themselves unencumbered by social conformity. It is when alone that they may think their thoughts without fear of ridicule. It is when alone that the genius can focus, to the exclusion of all else, on that which really matters: their creative work. The creative genius is the rarest of humans for many reasons, but one of them is that a genius must have the strength to stand alone, the strength to bear solitude sometimes for many years, on a single project, if their genius is ever to create anything. A genius must therefore not only be capable in mind, but strong in heart: they must be independent in thought and in social need. Not many manage to possess both characteristics in ample quantity - and so not many turn out to be geniuses.
I can give one personal example of the necessity of solitude to create anything of value. I have written two books - almost three - but it is the writing of one to which I wish to draw your attention.
When I was twenty-five, I began writing a book, a long book, a deep book, a book that soon took over my life. To write this book, I sequestered myself alone, at night, in an office about fifteen minutes walk from my house. Each night that I wrote, (I didn't write all nights), I would walk down to this office, through dark unlit roads, savouring the encroaching solitude, for in the darkness and quietness, would I be able to focus on my work. I would walk across a golf course, at night, down some darkened steps, across a railway track and into a second floor office, in the converted attic of a building.
It was the quiet that I liked. There was only myself, the hum of a computer (which I didn't then have of my own), and my thoughts. It was in that solitude that I wrote, nightly, until the brightening of the dawn, never interrupted by a phonecall, never taken away from my work by the call of a voice. It was a kind of peace that I have not found since.
I wrote in that way for five and a half years, until the work was complete. It is 750,000 words long - that is three-quarters of a million words. It, to me, is a thing of beauty. I have not yet published it, but I intend to do so in the coming year or two. Whether it will be acclaimed a work of genius or not, I do not know - but one thing I do know is that any genius who wishes to create must find their own solitude in which to do so. Genius never created in a social tumult.
So, genius is solitary - but not in a sad way. A genius is alone, but not lonely. A genius enjoys solitude, not fears it - for in solitude the genius is alone with their thoughts - and that is not being alone at all. A genius uses the focus and peace of solitude to create. So, if you have a child who likes solitude, who works on things alone, let them be: they may be a genius in the making, a person who will use periods of solitude in their life to create their greatest works.
(If you would like to read about my scientific child prodigy son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, seven years and one week old, then please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html I write also of child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children in general.)