Genius, Skill, Talent, Technique
March 28, 2013 5 Comments
Between the sufferings of both modern public school education and psychological neuroses, a lot of people fall into one of two camps of belief:
- I can be anything I want and be good at everything I do.
- I can’t do anything no matter how hard I try.
Both of these beliefs are false, as I reckon them. In a way, they’re two sides of the same coin, with each influenced by and growing upon the other. The first belief (that of supercapability) is overly positive to combat any self-doubt, but when taken to its extreme, it fails the holder of that belief and leads one into the second belief (that of incapability). That second belief is borne out of sorrow and doubt, but is also easily refuted in at least one action which can cycle back into the first belief. Some people never cycle between the two, getting stuck in one belief or the other, but either way these beliefs are simply wrong.
According to the doctrine of astrology and Hermetic philosophy, we’re all born with several things, such as a purpose, a history, a goal, and a set of things we’re good at and a set of things we’re bad at. Taken together, plus a little extra, this might all be construed as one’s True Will, the thing we’re supposed to be carrying out in order to fulfill our role in the cosmos as children of the Divine. After all, the whole point of Hermeticism and Neoplatonism is to reclaim our true heritage and value as children of gods and co-creators of the cosmos, and we can’t know what we’re supposed to create without knowing what we’re good at and where we’re supposed to be. Knowledge of our True Will helps us focus our efforts on the things we should be doing, which is almost always correlated with what we’re good at.
In addition to knowledge of our True Will, there are several spirits among the heavens that can help us find out what we’re supposed to be doing. Among those, there are the threefold keepers of Man: the angel of the nativity, the Holy Guardian Angel, and the angel of the profession. The angel of the nativity is the guy whose name is derived from the natal horoscope based on the five hylegical places, and is a guiding spirit who helps us out in this life for this incarnation. While the HGA is more for our Selves across incarnations and the heavens, the angel of the nativity is a spirit specific to this life for what we need to do now. In a way, it’s like the good angel on the shoulder of cartoon characters, but is more knowledgable about what we’re supposed to be doing and how we’re supposed to be doing it. The other name for this spirit is the natal genius, or the birth-spirit, that helps us do what we need to do for ourselves and our Selves in this life. In other words, it tells us what’s Right for us to do. And, like I said before, when we do something proper and Right for us, it tends to be easy or flawless.
We often call people “genius” when they’re really adept or smart at something, but it wasn’t originally a title of intelligence or mastery. Instead, “genius” referred to the guiding spirit who helps us be good at certain things because that’s the role we’re supposed to fill; it’s kinda like a cosmic version of Huxley’s “Brave New World”. Knowing what we’re good at via our genius helps us figure out our talents, the things we’re innately good at in the cosmos. This could be anything from simple skills such as memorization or a good eye for measurement to whole fields like mathematics or biology or counseling. Whatever we’ve got a talent in, we should probably explore and make use of.
Still, just because one has talent in something doesn’t mean one has mastery. Mastery in something can be called proper technique, the totality of knowledge in how, why, and what methods to use for a particular goal or end result. Talent helps with building technique, but talent alone doesn’t cut it. Talent needs refining through building skill, which can be thought of as learned technique as opposed to inborn technique through talent. Skill helps refine talent to be used for specific, fine things in a regular, repeated manner that talent alone may not be able to do. It’s like the difference between having a vague subconscious understanding of something and a total comprehension and coherent knowledge of it.
Other people, however, have little to no talent in a given technique, but still want to learn that technique. In this case, skill is all they have to go on. They’ll need to become more skillful to make up for the lack of talent, but this doesn’t mean they can’t learn technique or master something. It just means they’ll have to learn and focus more on building up the skill that people with talent may already be good at. However, spending time to build up skill in something in which one has little talent often takes time away from building up skill in something one does have talent for. Keep in mind that talent implies that we’re supposed to be good at something and that we’re supposed to do it; if one shows talent in something but is wasting one’s skill on something else, they’re probably being misguided.
A lot of modern society treats all people the same, which is usually a good thing. After all, I enjoy and favor equality of rights and opportunity for all, because we’re all still human and capable of basic humanity with human needs. However, things go awry when society treats us all as having the same talents, skills, capabilities, and inclinations for things. This kind of social conditioning does real damage, because it assumes everyone has the same basic drive and same basic talents, when this assumption doesn’t hold up. Some people are very good at written language but awful at mathematics, some good at art and some good at sports, and so forth; we should afford people the chance to explore everything if they so choose, but we shouldn’t force them to pass standardized tests that assume everyone’s at an arbitrary level of technique for an arbitrary number of subjects.
Not everyone is going to be good at everything. That’s just a fact of life, and that’s quite alright. There are going to be subjects, fields, and tasks at which we aren’t suited but that others are. This isn’t to say that we should settle for mediocrity and laziness for ourselves instead of striving to know and become more than we are, but we shouldn’t try to become a jack of all trades when we’re really only good and supposed to be good in a handful of them. There are so many roles to fill in the world that requires dedication, single-mindedness, and talent in addition to skill, any number of which might be considered taboo or dangerous or outré, even though they’re just as necessary as any other. Society may say it knows what’s best for itself, but it doesn’t. We’ve all got a purpose, indicated by our talent and genius, and we need skill to make ourselves perfect. Only with genius, skill, talent, and technique will we be able to know and carry out our True Will, and make progress on the path to becoming full-fledged co-creators of the cosmos once again.