Insight and the boring parts

Genius is characterized by 1) a vision, and 2) a bunch of boring work. Whether it’s their fault or not, psychotic geniuses are characterized by overemphasizing the former without proper follow-through, because they don’t (or can’t) invest enough effort to realize each insight. It behooves me, as a guy whose stated goal is “to be an enabler (or something) for all the under-served psychotic geniuses out there”, to make the work part go faster and smoother.

Parts of boring work

There’s the part that’s just the rote, mechanical follow-through of churning out algebraic manipulations (according to predefined rules), or maybe a musical exposition, or writing up a character description based on the notes and ideas you’ve already dreamed up. There’s also the part where you solve little, boring problems that require sustained focus and maybe a little inspiration, and tend to be more frustrating than sublime. For instance, it is boring to write up the introductory material for a lay audience in a popular science book. But it can’t be automated, and it has to be done, or everybody will think you’re just like those science cranks on the internet.

Rate of inspiration

There is an optimum rate of ingenious insights. If an insight requires 4 hours of work for realization (that is, to be “fleshed out”), and you’re awake 16 hours per day, then the best possible rate of inspiration is once every 4 hours, except during sleep (good sleep is important!). As soon as you’re finished with a project, another idea occurs. No time for lunch! If you’re getting several insights per hour the mind becomes too cluttered and loses its singular focus, and old ideas become difficult to retrieve from memory, and are possibly lost to the memory hole.

Negligible time spent in revelation

The time to fully envision a good insight is non-zero, in my experience. But it’s usually negligible in comparison with the time spent fleshing it out. There may be a few exceptions out there, like when a poet thinks of a complete line or stanza that perfectly encapsulates an idea (or when a twitter genius, if indeed there be any, conceives 140 characters that change the world #greatmenofdestiny).

Ratio of revelation time (sublime) to exposition time (boring)

Some creative endeavors rely much more on the work aspect (e.g. music composition), requiring relatively fewer insights and relatively more reliance on rote methods and mechanical exposition. These fields require greater conscientiousness. Other creative endeavors rely more on the rate of insights (e.g. intuitive philosophy), often requiring only a few minutes per insight to invent vocabulary in which to capture the idea. Such fields require greater intelligence, and are therefore often g-loaded (and may also favor psychoticism, so long as the insights aren’t unfocused and irrelevant).

Immediacy

There are also two elements of time I want to highlight. The first is what I’ll call “striking while the iron is hot”, or in a single work, “immediacy”. Fields that require you to keep a larger idea in mind tend to be biased toward greater immediacy. This is very important in musical composition (if your name isn’t Bach), because it’s far less efficient to stop, come back a few months later, load the entire concept back into meat-RAM, and finish whatever thought you’d begun back then. The second…I’ve unfortunately run out of time for. Anyway, I forgot it.

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About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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2 Responses to Insight and the boring parts

  1. Pingback: Addendum: the other element of time | Aeoli Pera

  2. Pingback: Psychotic clogging | Aeoli Pera

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