3 thoughts on “Elizabeth Gilbert on Genius”

  1. Inspirational and frustrating in equal measure. Would have loved to hear her speak ‘properly’ of divine inspiration, but I guess it’s a TED talk, not a sermon. Interesting as well that this should be from a country where ‘failure’ isn’t seen as a handicap as such and there’s more credit given for trying and failing than not trying at all. But maybe the issue is then about giving of your very best, all the time, regardless of what the outcome may be. In a Christian context it’s about relying on God to take our efforts and use them to bring about His glory, not ours. And, of course, that doesn’t always mean success by our standards.

  2. I thought the way she explains that people were said to ‘have’ a genius not ‘be’ a genius was really enlightening (what a terrible choice of word there!). The thought that creativity was internalised as part of the enlightenment explains much of our attitude to creativity and inspiration.

    I know that when I’m writing sermons or posts or whatever, sometimes it comes so easily as though I’m just the one typing. It seems to take no effort or even thought. I’m the conduit like Gilbert explains.

    The removal of that pressure to succeed because creativity comes from outside seems to me to be a helpful way to look at the world, especially if you believe that we are doing God’s work.

  3. Yes, I completely agree. The claiming of ‘genius’ for our own is very much born out the inward focus of much enlightenment thinking and it has not being a good thing. Merely acting as a conduit is the right attitude I think, but it goes against the grain of much modern and even post-modern teaching. Even couched in the ‘spiritual’ language Gilbert uses, it’s still a product of our own imagining of what the source of our creativity (note the possessive) actually is. What needs to happen is a greater ‘letting go’ of our own ego. Humility is still a fairly rare commodity.

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