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A purpose by Woody Allen: The Forge of Genius


Published in

The Day

Gerardo Castillo

Professor School of Education and Psychology

Each person possesses a creative potential, greater or lesser in each case, but not in all of them it is actualized in the same way and with the same strength. It manifests itself with less intensity when people ignore that they have this potential or when they do not decide to use it. Geniuses are born with potentially special characteristics and once they mature, if there is persevering effort and a favorable environment, latent capacities emerge. Alexander Gerard states that what is specific to genius is invention: the ability to produce new beauties in works of art and new truths in science. Geniuses are born and made.

In my opinion, this process is currently attributable, among others, to filmmaker Woody Allen. I read in the press that at the age of 86 and with 49 films, after his movie issue 50, he wants to take a break from cinema to resume his facet as a writer, started with his autobiography A purpose de nada. He confesses that he no longer enjoys making films so much. He is currently writing humorous essays. Woody Allen was born in a humble neighborhood in Brooklyn. At the age of 11 he took the subway with a friend to Manhattan, where he discovered the world of vaudeville and comedians. At the age of 15 he was hired as a joke writer and published gags in several newspapers. Later he worked as a comedian and screenwriter. In 1969 he directed his first film: the comedy Toma el dinero y corre. Many more would follow, until he became one of the most prolific and award-winning directors in the history of cinema, in which the fluency of his storytelling and the originality of his humor stand out.

Woody Allen creates sparkling dialogue with an undercurrent of sadness. His most famous film is the romantic comedy Two Strange Lovers, a masterpiece awarded with four Oscars. The filmmaker showed talent and work. But in what proportion, and is it true that it is talent or inspiration, as is often believed, that takes precedence? I transcribe the answers of three geniuses: "Genius is one percent inspiration and nine percent perspiration" (Thomas A. Edison); "Genius is two percent inspiration and ninety-eight percent persevering application" (Ludwig Van Beethoven); "When inspiration comes, may it find me working" (Pablo Picasso).

This is the thesis developed by the Full Professor of Psychiatry Alonso Fernandez in his interesting study on creative talent: "All the major progress made in human societies, from Homo habilis to the present day, is due to work and to the effort sprinkled with inspirations of some genius mentality. There is no genius without applying oneself to the effort required by the work. A mentality encouraged by the spark of genius stops in dilettantism, if it does not commit itself to the endeavor with blood, sweat and tears".

You can be very intelligent and not be a genius. The genius condition adds creative thinking and creative personality. There is something common to the good professional and the genius: both needed to find in time what was theirs: what they did with pleasure and what they did well. Moreover, they dared to do it, overcoming all subject difficulties and barriers. Ken Robinson, a specialist in creativity, uses the term Element to designate the place where the things we like to do and the things we are particularly good at converge. He considers it the point of meeting between natural aptitudes and personal inclinations. He argues that when we are passionate about what we do, we are in our element, a state in which we work with great creativity. For this reason, he proposes that each person should connect with his or her true natural talents; in this way, he or she will discover that he or she possesses capacities of imagination and intuition that are often underused. On the basis of having discovered what was his thing and having found himself in his Element, the genius goes further in his creativity than the average professional.

Creative thinking is a mixed thinking that combines the logical-rational and intuitive aspect with the imaginative. It is also called divergent thinking (it implies seeing a problem from different perspectives and with a fresh look, removing established assumptions. It thus offers multiple creative options). Schools should encourage this thinking subject . It is necessary to avoid massive instruction, excessively rules and regulations, as well as that which encourages conformism, because all this closes the way to creativity.