Saturday, 27 June 2009

Diary of a genius

Geniuses aren’t just cleverer and more creative than the rest of us; they also seem to have more time. I’ve just spent the better part of the last few months writing an academic article which, even if it is accepted by the journal I send it to, will probably be read by about six people -and to say it was like getting blood out of a stone would be to underestimate the haematological content of stones. Then I came across this description in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography of how John Maynard Keynes completed his two-volume Treatise on Money in a couple of months while also turning his hand to a few other things:

Much of it was written in August and September at Charleston, Vanessa Bell's farmhouse on the Sussex downs, but he found time for a whirlwind ten days in London in July: Diaghilev's ballet, an end of ballet season dinner party of thirty-three which he hosted at 46 Gordon Square … business appointments, a speech, evidence to a government committee on Indian exchange and currency, a discussion at the Tuesday Club … lunching and dining out day after day. Although normally a late riser who got to the Treasury a little before noon, he spent his mornings at Charleston writing from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and averaged 1000 words a day fit for the printer.

The words ‘jammy’ and ‘sod’ spring inexorably to mind …

Two more reviews of my book:

Mundane quote for the day: ‘I put a picture up on a wall. Then I forgot there is a wall. I no longer know what there is behind this wall, I no longer know there is a wall, I no longer know this wall is a wall, I no longer know what a wall is. I no longer know that in my apartment there are walls, and that if there weren’t any walls, there would be no apartment. The wall is no longer what delimits and defines the place where I live, it is nothing more than a support for the picture. But I also forget the picture, I no longer look at it, I no longer know how to look at it. I have put the picture on the wall so as to forget there was a wall, but in forgetting the wall, I forget the picture, too.’ – Georges Perec


  1. I think you're definitely right about 'time'. I recently had a week of Annual Leave from work. In this week I politely requested that all family and friends did not contact me AT ALL, by email, phone or in person unless it was an emergency. I managed to write a 7,600 word play, and made a very good start on two 6,000 word journal articles. Not having the constant email bombardment saved masses of time. In a month I conservatively send 400+ emails, even if I only write 100 words in each, that's 40,000 words that could have gone towards something productive. I do realize that unless I want to give up my job, become a hermit and alienate all my friends it isn't possible to do this all the time. John Maynard Keynes, does indeed sound as though he's lived a very fortunate life!

  2. Thought you should be warned about the best blog comment on the Guardian Ice-cream van article: 'the Glasgow boys have got your number'