How to be a Genius
Happened to come across a small essay by Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), a nineteenth century English philosopher titled, HOW TO BECOME A MAN OF GENIUS on Reddit. My first reaction upon reading the title was “it must be a satirical piece”, the second reaction was, “maybe not”. I went ahead and read it. It turned out to be the former, and a delightful one at that.
My favourite part:
One of the most important elements of success in becoming a man of genius is to learn the art of denunciation. You must always denounce in such a way that your reader thinks that it is the other fellow who is being denounced and not himself; in that case he will be impressed by your noble scorn, whereas if he thinks that it is himself that you are denouncing, he will consider that you are guilty of ill-bred peevishness. Carlyle remarked: “The population of England is twenty millions, mostly fools.” Everybody who read this considered himself one of the exceptions, and therefore enjoyed the remark.
Now this was written way back in 1932. But I am sure it’s useful advice even today. In fact it’s practiced all around us. Isn’t this what politicians do all the time? And I am not really surprised that it works.
Read the whole piece. It’s not too long.