The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Friday, August 24, 2012

Does originality exist?

I ask this question because I have noticed a curious phenomenon: some people make a point of claiming, online, that originality does not exist. I have seen this many times. Sometimes, they then go on to extol the virtues of finding ideas in the works of others. They seem to think that this is the only way to find ideas. Typically, they then generalize what they do – find ideas in others’ works – and state their strong belief, that that is what everyone does. Therefore, they conclude, originality does not exist. They even sometimes mock the idea of the concept, as if those who believe in originality are being naive or uninformed.

I find all this very odd. It is most obvious what is happening here. Those who do not believe in originality do not do so, precisely because they realize that they, themselves, are not original. They then, in a rather odd leap, conclude that since they are not original, and develop everything from borrowed ideas – that everyone else must do the same – hence their conclusion that originality does not exist. People see the world as they are themselves. Yet, the world is not like us. The world consists of billions of different people, each of whom is unlike us. It makes no sense to generalize across this mass of others, and believe – as they do – that everyone has the same process for creation.

I look at the world in a different way. I believe in originality because I have known the phenomenon personally, in my own life and in the lives of people known to me. I know original people. I see their thoughts and their works and know, for a fact, that they came from themselves. I know, too, however, that such people are a minority. Most people who “create” are actually DERIVING their works through imitation of others. So, some are original, but most are not.

It is a toxic belief, however, that people should think that originality does not exist. This prevents us from appreciating the original souls among us. Their works would tend to be dismissed as “plagiarized from sources unknown” – rather than actually created by an original spirit. That is a very sad and corrupting way to look at the world and work of creative people.

Luckily, it is fairly easy to recognize genuine creatives. They are driven from within, by ideas that bubble up in them; they have passion and drive – they speak in surprising ways and say things one has never heard before. So, too, is it easy to recognize the unoriginal derivers and imitators. They speak of their “influences”. They talk of the ideas they got from reading/listening/meeting/seeing others. Always are the ideas from without themselves...never do they appear within. They also tend to dismiss the originality of others, seemingly assuming them to be as they are: imitative. It doesn’t take long listening to and observing a “creative” person, to decide which of these two types they are from: those who create original works and those who echo, others.

The sad part about this is that true creators are vastly outnumbered by the imitators and derivers. This gives the incorrect impression to some, that to steal the thoughts of others, is the common procedure of all “creators”. It is not so. Genuine creators create, from their own thoughts and understandings of the world. However, those who talk loudest of their creations and are often the most famous for them, are, too often, of the thievish kind and simply echo the works of others, endlessly.

Originality does exist. It just doesn’t exist in those who claim it doesn’t exist. 

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 4:24 PM 


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