Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I knew it!

An article in Wired magazine puts its finger squarely on the thing I have been skwawking about since 3-D design class; some artists work by conceptual innovation, producing their best work while young (because that's when their brains are most agile). Others, LIKE ME, work through a process of long-term experimentation, maturation, coming to understand their medium, and produce their best work much later in life. Link to this wondrous article courtesy of The Intrepid Art Collector blog.
What [Galenson] has found is that genius – whether in art or architecture or even business – is not the sole province of 17-year-old Picassos and 22-year-old Andreessens. Instead, it comes in two very different forms, embodied by two very different types of people. “Conceptual innovators,” as Galenson calls them, make bold, dramatic leaps in their disciplines. They do their breakthrough work when they are young. Think Edvard Munch, Herman Melville, and Orson Welles. They make the rest of us feel like also-rans. Then there’s a second character type, someone who’s just as significant but trudging by comparison. Galenson calls this group “experimental innovators.” Geniuses like Auguste Rodin, Mark Twain, and Alfred Hitchcock proceed by a lifetime of trial and error and thus do their important work much later in their careers. Galenson maintains that this duality – conceptualists are from Mars, experimentalists are from Venus – is the core of the creative process. And it applies to virtually every field of intellectual endeavor, from painters and poets to economists.
I think one of the main reasons I'm so sensitized to this issue, aside from the fact that my work process puts me squarely in the second category, is that, having been pegged as 'the smart girl' pretty much since preschool, it was assumed by everyone around me (parents, teachers, classmates, and even myself) that if I were going to be an artist at all, I MUST be one of the 'conceptual innovator' types. Being so 'smart' and articulate and clever and all. (Whatever that means, anyway.) And if I wasn't, if I mucked around and experimented and produced a pile of god-awful crap during school and beyond, I must be delusional. And thus was being pig-headed by sticking to this art thing, instead of decently trundling off to medical or law school like I was supposed to do.

This does not mean that I am announcing myself to the world as a 'genius.' But it confirms a feeling I've always had, deep in my core, that I was on a valid path, even if it didn't look that way to anyone else, or even to me, on my bad days.


danonymous said...

So the young violinist asked the the train conductor..."Sir, how do I get to Carnegie Hall?"
The conductor peered over to the young violinist and said....."Practice. Practice. Practice."

k said...

Likewise. I mean, as far as the category. My formal business days are over. That doesn't mean my entrepreneurial ones are, of course.

OTOH? I had my *conceptual* moments too, in youth. There were a number of things I did in the bankbuster days that were picked up and became industry standard. Things like, in one's civil suit to collect under foreclosure and other asset seizure actions, include collection of damages caused by criminal acts.

To me that was a no-brainer. The FBI was regularly shitcanning our criminal referrals. They hated prosecuting the financial crimes. If it weren't bank robbers, drugs, or gun runners, it wasn't sexy enough for them.

Then, the Directors & Officers suits - trying to collect under Errors and Omissions Insurance? - well, if there WERE no insurance, no collection at all. And the cost to file was so high, if they determined they weren't going to get enough remuneration, they wouldn't file.

So these crooks would sit there and laugh at us all, and enjoy the rich proceeds of their plundering. Didn't seem quite right to me. So as you do your mundane *regular* collection work, tell the judge. I got wads and wads of money back for us that way. It worked.

And after it worked, of course, it went from being this terrifying *Radical New Concept!!!,* to being a normal part of a standard business plan for collection.

I'm still proud of that. There were a few others too. They were good ideas and they worked. But to me, they seemed more sensible than flashes of genius.

Same with reworking the Bond Refunding Formula in one of my last Finance classes. It had 7 variables. It only needed 5, you could reduce the equation. It was fairly simple, I mean to anyone with a working knowledge of the abtruse mathematics.

I still don't know why nobody had seen it before. The formula itself was not all that new any more; it had been used by a number of municipalities by then, in their decision making process.

(It's a formula one employs when deciding whether it makes more economic sense to refund an outstanding issue of municipal bonds or not, given the current interest rate climate.)

In business school, especially undergrad, the credit for things like that does not go to the lowly student who thought it up. I've always wondered if my professor published that one or not. ;-)