Genius, pt. III

Japan was mentioned twice or thrice in “The Geology of Genius.” The first time it was mentioned, the author was looking at the relationship between creativity and “openness to experience,” which psychologists identified as the most important trait of creative people. According to the author, it is also an important trait for creative societies.

He mentioned a research that “examined a country that has, historically, been among the world’s most closed societies: Japan.” The researcher focused on the time between 580 and 1939 and found that “the greater Japan’s openness, the greater its achievements, especially in the arts.” The researcher believed that for all cultures, “every leap forward is preceded by an exposure to foreign ideas.”

Since I have very little idea about Japan’s history, I cannot comment on the researcher’s findings, but I think the relationship between “openness” or “exposure” to creative genius is one of the things that struck me most when I was reading the book because it is a common characteristic of the places of genius in his book.

I’m not sure yet how openness plays a role in language learning (if it does), but I do agree that being exposed to different or foreign ideas is useful not only in creativity but in learning in general because we can learn things that we can’t learn on our own or with people who are similar to us.

I have learned a lot from my friends from other countries simply by talking to them or spending time with them, so I’m hoping that my students too can learn something from me (mostly through the lessons, of course) by simply coming to class and talking to me.