Joshua Wolf Shenk: Creativity as Partnership, Lennon and McCartney

There is a powerful cultural image of the lone genius. Newton, Van Gogh and such types. Indeed, we suspect that people who get along with others could not be geniuses. Of course, this misstates the historical record and is not consistent with research.

If genius is defined in terms of extending our ability to see beyond the confines of current models, then it is social. Csikszentmihalyi brought this out in his book “Creativity”. Genius is a collaboration between experts (who master a given domain) and persons who offer ways of seeing beyond what is currently understood). The two groups need each other.

And we know that great ideas come out of great exchanges of ideas. Steve Johnson and Matt Ridley bring this out rtaher well. And it seems that John Lennon and Paul McCartney had brilliant exchanges of musical ideas, producing a genius that neither could have achieved on their own.

So, how good are you at conversation? Interesting question! Here is a related one — how good are you at creative intimacy?

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