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Scenius

I found a quote from Brian Eno (if you are like me and need to be reminded, he composed pieces of the soundtrack of the Dune of Lynch, to say a thing), and I'm stealing it from a guy at Hacker News where I read it and copy it here.

I was an art student and, like all art students, I was encouraged to believe that there were a few great figures like Picasso and Kandinsky, Rembrandt and Giotto and so on who sort-of appeared out of nowhere and produced artistic revolution.

As I looked at art more and more, I discovered that that wasn’t really a true picture.

What really happened was that there was sometimes very fertile scenes involving lots and lots of people – some of them artists, some of them collectors, some of them curators, thinkers, theorists, people who were fashionable and knew what the hip things were – all sorts of people who created a kind of ecology of talent. And out of that ecology arose some wonderful work.

The period that I was particularly interested in, ’round about the Russian revolution, shows this extremely well. So I thought that originally those few individuals who’d survived in history – in the sort-of “Great Man” theory of history – they were called “geniuses”. But what I thought was interesting was the fact that they all came out of a scene that was very fertile and very intelligent.

So I came up with this word “scenius” – and scenius is the intelligence of a whole... operation or group of people. And I think that’s a more useful way to think about culture, actually. I think that – let’s forget the idea of “genius” for a little while, let’s think about the whole ecology of ideas that give rise to good new thoughts and good new work.

Maybe we can speak also of a categorical "scene" too.

Comments

  • 1.

    He also composed the bell studies for the 10,000 year clock. I like this idea of 'scenius', thanks for sharing.

    Comment Source:He also composed the bell studies for the [10,000 year clock](http://longnow.org/store/january-07003-bell-studies-cd/). I like this idea of 'scenius', thanks for sharing.
  • 2.
    edited September 2

    Thank you, Jesus.

    One concept related to "scenius" is its "scope". Is it just a narrow community? Or is it a wider movement? Is it localized (Greenwhich Village) or distributed (the Enlightenment)? Another concept is its "phase" in time. I think a lot of innovation or creativity, say in Silicon Valley, is onion skin thin. Hotmail was ahead of its competitors by six months, for example. Whereas a solitary thinker can work in an area for thirty years and not be understood. Yes, they may participate in a "scenium", but it is one consisting of people who are dead or not yet born.

    Last month I traveled for three weeks in China. I was curious to meet independent thinkers. I was quite surprised to realize that there are very few. But there are several indicators that the rate is very low, perhaps 1 in 1,000, as I discussed in one of my talks in Beijing at the World Congress of Philosophy, Daoism for a Lifetime or a Day?. Whereas in the US or UK it might be 1 in 5. The reason seems to be that people in China don't like to be alone. And being alone is a key condition for developing as an independent thinker.

    In that talk, I also argue that the Daoist Laozi has been completely understood for centuries by Chinese commentators and foreign translators. A typical translation is "The way that can be named is not the way". But the literal reading is actually: "The way you CAN go is NOT often the true way. The name you CAN name is NOT often the right name." Which is to say that the ways and words that suggest themselves could, by chance, be right, but generally are not. The true way is not the unconscious mind that associates but the unconscious mind that disassociates, the independent mind. I'm no expert of Daoism but the experts there were very supportive. Which is all to say, a nonexpert, however, having an experience as an independent thinker, is (perhaps) able to commune with other such - like Laozi or Jesus or Mohammad - who are thousands of years away. Or commune with God as when we're all alone but realize that God is, too.

    So the question is what "scenium" do we choose to participate in? A visible one that is locally popular? Or an invisible conspiracy that stretches beyond time and space? The math community offers both options.

    Comment Source:Thank you, Jesus. One concept related to "scenius" is its "scope". Is it just a narrow community? Or is it a wider movement? Is it localized (Greenwhich Village) or distributed (the Enlightenment)? Another concept is its "phase" in time. I think a lot of innovation or creativity, say in Silicon Valley, is onion skin thin. Hotmail was ahead of its competitors by six months, for example. Whereas a solitary thinker can work in an area for thirty years and not be understood. Yes, they may participate in a "scenium", but it is one consisting of people who are dead or not yet born. Last month I traveled for three weeks in China. I was curious to meet independent thinkers. I was quite surprised to realize that there are very few. But there are several indicators that the rate is very low, perhaps 1 in 1,000, as I discussed in one of my talks in Beijing at the World Congress of Philosophy, [Daoism for a Lifetime or a Day?](http://www.ms.lt/sodas/Book/20180814Daodejing). Whereas in the US or UK it might be 1 in 5. The reason seems to be that people in China don't like to be alone. And being alone is a key condition for developing as an independent thinker. In that talk, I also argue that the Daoist Laozi has been completely understood for centuries by Chinese commentators and foreign translators. A typical translation is "The way that can be named is not the way". But the literal reading is actually: "The way you CAN go is NOT often the true way. The name you CAN name is NOT often the right name." Which is to say that the ways and words that suggest themselves could, by chance, be right, but generally are not. The true way is not the unconscious mind that associates but the unconscious mind that disassociates, the independent mind. I'm no expert of Daoism but the experts there were very supportive. Which is all to say, a nonexpert, however, having an experience as an independent thinker, is (perhaps) able to commune with other such - like Laozi or Jesus or Mohammad - who are thousands of years away. Or commune with God as when we're all alone but realize that God is, too. So the question is what "scenium" do we choose to participate in? A visible one that is locally popular? Or an invisible conspiracy that stretches beyond time and space? The math community offers both options.
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