Friday 5 December 2014

The Genius's Journey - Destiny, Quest, Illumination

Think of this as analogous to 'The Hero's Journey' as described by Joseph Campbell ^


The Genius has a Journey to make, a Path to take - a Way to live.

This may be embarked upon, but there is no guarantee is will be completed. It may be tried but may fail. The genius may die, or get sick before it is finished - or in some way be thwarted.

The destiny may be accepted, but may be abandoned; because the commitment must be renewed many times. Illumination may actually be achieved but rejected by society - the genius unrecognised.

Or, illumination may be achieved but stolen and no credit given; or achieved and socially-accepted and acknowledgement given - but then the genius become corrupted into careerism, status seeking, pleasure seeking or whatever.


Destiny, Quest, Illumination

We are prone to think of only the last step in this journey: the Eureka moment' of inspiration when the Genius is flooded with Illumination and sees the answer to his problem, and what the answer means.

But there are at least three distinct phases of which this comes late.

1. Destiny

From childhood, youth or early adult life there is a sense of destiny, of having some special role to play. This destiny is accepted, not chosen; so that task is not to manufacture, invent or devise a destiny; but rather to discover, to find-out the nature of one's own personal and unique destiny.

Such a process of discovery is a matter of trial and error, following hunches, drifting; false leads, blind alleys and red herrings - there is no recipe to find one's destiny.


2. Quest

After seeking the genius recognises what it is that he is meant to do (or, meant to attempt): this is his Quest.

Now he has to choose - does he embrace his destiny and accept the Quest - or not. Only he can decide; and he will inevitably decide: the decision is unavoidable.

Life takes a fork.


3. After prolonged effort - months, years, a decade or more - Illumination is achieved: the thing is done! The experience accumulated, the skills gained, the understanding achieved during the Quest at last come together and the breakthrough is made.

Of course there are other phases - for instance the Illumination must be communicated  but beyond a certain minimal effort at recording, reproducing and revealing, this is often 'in the lap of the gods' - and beyond the scope of purposive activities of the genius.


^Here is a nicely animated video summary in What makes a Hero? by Matthew Winkler