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Late Bloomers: Why Do We Equate Genius with Precocity?

An artists’ output and his best work usually peaks at a young age. It’s usually in their early twenties. The classic archetype is people like Picasso, who very early in their career spit out a masterpiece. But people peaking late, in their 40’s, 50’s and even 60’s, are more common than you would think. 

Malcolm Gladwell writes in the New Yorker about these “late bloomers” and offers David Galeson’s theory, author of Old Masters and Young Geniuses, of the two types of creativity he has found: conceptual and experimental. Gladwell explains:

Galenson’s idea that creativity can be divided into these types—conceptual and experimental—has a number of important implications. For example, we sometimes think of late bloomers as late starters. They don’t realize they’re good at something until they’re fifty, so of course they achieve late in life. But that’s not quite right. Cézanne was painting almost as early as Picasso was. We also sometimes think of them as artists who are discovered late; the world is just slow to appreciate their gifts. In both cases, the assumption is that the prodigy and the late bloomer are fundamentally the same, and that late blooming is simply genius under conditions of market failure. What Galenson’s argument suggests is something else—that late bloomers bloom late because they simply aren’t much good until late in their careers.

This theory of course feels comforting -I’m 31- and it’s further evidence that classical advice like “If you really want it, you’ll get it” and “Fake it ’till you make it”, does work. 

Why I Blog

There are many “Why I Blog” manifestos out there, but this piece by Andrew Sullivan is the best I’ve read in a while. I don’t particularly agree with things like this:

A traditional writer is valued by readers precisely because they trust him to have thought long and hard about a subject, given it time to evolve in his head, and composed a piece of writing that is worth their time to read at length and to ponder. Bloggers don’t do this and cannot do this—and that limits them far more than it does traditional long-form writing.

That, I think, is very much debatable –I explain here why- and I think that being editorial about your shit, actually makes you a good blogger and even better than a “conversationalist.” But I do understand that this form, this medium, is not about being “literary”. People online are not looking to read Shakespeare.