Talent and geniusBy http://profile.typepad.com/1237764140s22740 // September 16, 2012 in Attitude
Yesterday, the famous British novelist and newly settled resident of Brooklyn, Martin Amis, spoke at the downtown Seattle Public Library.
I don't know his work, but I know his father's. One summer in Yokohama, Japan - nearly 30 years ago - I read half a dozen novels by Kingsley Amis. They were Penguin paperback editions, wrapped in brown paper that bore the logo of the Japanese bookstore, Kinokuniya, where I found one after the other.
"Genius," according to Amis, speaks to an uncanny perceptiveness and a native capacity to articulate off-the-cuff.
"Talent," according to Amos, denotes something more like craft. Talent has to do with skills for structuring, setting pace, effecting transitions. That is not how I might have previously defined the word.
Reflecting on Amis the Younger's distinction, I find I bring my own unusual connotation to the word genius. Genius wraps into itself a quality of persistence. A commitment or a programming defect - not sure which - that compels someone to keep at something, or which sustains her. Einstein's genius had this quality.