I sat down to eat my oatmeal this morning when I was interrupted by a call from a friend who lives in South Africa. Before heading home from her job, she stopped to wish me a belated happy birthday. I’m always glad to hear from her and for a time we caught up, chatting about mutual friends and family. Eventually, the subject turned to politics. Her perspective on the fate of her country was grim. Worse, Nelson Mandela, the father of the nation, was presumed to be gravely ill, though she believed he was dead.
“Dead? But there’s been no news,” I protested.
She brushed me off. “There wouldn’t be. His party’s in political trouble. They want the public focused on Mandela not upon the upcoming election.”
When we’d finished our conversation, I hung up and returned to my cereal, marveling as I did, on the flimsy cloth from which conspiracy theories can be cut. Sometimes, these theories are quite creative. I might have considered the subject a bit longer but, I was reading a magazine as I stirred the contents of my bowl, and my eyes feel upon a monograph written by a proud mother. Her 3-year-old daughter insisted upon attending a costume party dressed as “the Batman Princess.” (“The Batman Princess,” by Kerri Sparling, Ladies Home Journal, October 2013 pg. 109. ) The mother wasn’t sure what a Batman Princess looked like but her daughter had no doubts and drew picture. The result was an outfit which combined the traditional Batman top and mask with enough yellow tulle to resemble a billowing ball gown. That her daughter had put the two ideas together, the mother purred, was the outcome of pure “genius.” (Ibid, pg. 109)
Thinking about genius, I recalled an exercise I’d once been given in a writing class. The teacher said that genius came from putting disparate thoughts together to form a fresh one. She invited her students to write a story that drew connections between unrelated objects, like mushrooms and ladders or Santa Claus and worms. I don’t remember what I wrote about but I remember the exercise got my juices going.
Having finished with my oatmeal, I stepped to the sink with my empty dish. That was the moment I had my epiphany — drawing a wild connection between genius and conspiracy theories. Both required creativity. Naturally, I flew to my computer to stitch these fragments together to create today’s blog. I think my writing teacher might be pleased.
(Courtesy of printerest.com)