The Physical Genius
and The Art of Failure
by Malcolm Gladwell: An interesting duo of pseudo-related articles. The first posits the existence of a "physical genius", someone who posesses an "affinity for translating thought into action". The ironic thing about a physical genius, however, is that they really can't be described by cut-and-dry measurements of athleticism (in other words, there is no measuring stick like IQ for a physical genius). There is, in fact, much more to it than merely performing act itself; its knowing what to do. In the other article, The Art of Failure, Gladwell posits that there are two different types of failing: regression and panicking. Regression is when you become so self conscious that you are thinking explicitely about what to do next instead of relying on your instincts and reactions (which you work hard to put into place; years of tennis lessons will give you an innate tennis sense, so to speak - but if you explicitely start think about each step, you will fail). Panicking is a sort of tunnel-vision, in which you are so concerned about one problem, you forget that you already know the usually simple solution.
Of course, Gladwell makes the points ever more elegantly than I just did. In fact, I've found almost all of Gladwell's work
fascinating, well researched, and well thought out. I found these two articles interesting because it seems that the physical genius doesn't really regress back to their explicit mode of operation. Why? I think it might be because they never learned these things explicitly, at least, not the same way in which your average person does. They just know what to do, and they do it. I guess that's why they are called "geniuses".
Posted by Mark at 08:46 PM