Right now on TV I am watching Good Will Hunting. I absolutely love this movie.
When I first saw it in the theaters, I was hooked from the moment I saw mathematical equations shifting across the screen in the introductory montage. I just was entranced by this whole movie, and I wished that I could be as brilliant as Will Hunting, and the Matt Damon would somehow find me and want to marry me.
This brings me to an article I read a while ago, but has resonated with me for a long time. I've been wanting to write a post about it but have not had the time to really put the appropriate thought into it.
The article discusses how we as a society tend to equate genius with precocity, whereas he says in reality, there really are two kinds of genius, the kind that builds, builds, and builds into a late-career apex, and the other is the kind we are accustomed to, precocious genius. The analysis he performs is truly fascinating. I *highly* recommend that you read this article.
I think that we as academics tend to focus on precocity. After all, it's the easiest way to to determine near-term success, and since we need results sooner rather than later this works. However, I think that there are a lot of "non-traditional" people out there who are capable of great genius later. I like to think of myself as having this possibility, not necessarily of genius but of improvement over a lifetime. I've always been pretty good at stuff, but my recent development as a computer scientist has really made me think the best is to come. I just hope that whomever looks to hire me in the future can see and accept that.
Will Hunting is clearly a precocious genius, but I wonder what his later career would be like. Did he flameout? Did he continue to be brilliant? Was he happy? Did he contribute to the world?
2 years ago