Seeking Sites Of Global Genius

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With guest host Jane Clayson.

From ancient Athens to old Calcutta to U.S. hotspots now, we look around the world at the places and the conditions that have fostered genius.

An image of the ancient Acropolis in Athens, Greece, taken in June 2010. (WikiCommons)
An image of the ancient Acropolis in Athens, Greece, photographed in June 2010. (WikiCommons)

Athens. Vienna. Silicon Valley. Calcutta. Hangzhou, China. Edinburgh. Florence. All of them are cities that, at different moments in history, have seen genius thrive. With artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, philosophers like Aristotle and Plato, and with our modern tech innovators, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. This hour On Point, the geography of genius and creativity around the globe.
-- Jane Clayson


Eric Weiner, former NPR News correspondent. Author of the new book, "The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley." Also author of "The Geography of Bliss" and "Man Seeks God." (@Eric_Weiner)

From The Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: The Secret of Immigrant Genius -- "Not all cultural collisions end happily, of course, and not all immigrants become geniuses. The adversity that spurs some to greatness sends others into despair. But as we wrestle with our own immigration and refugee policies, we would be wise to view the welcome mat not as charity but, rather, as enlightened self-interest. Once creativity is in the air, we all breathe a more stimulating air."

Los Angeles Times: All those office perks? They're ruining creativity. -- "Companies, and cities, offer these enticements in order to attract, and keep, top-notch employees but also with the implicit (and sometimes explicit) understanding that these perks will make them more creative. At first blush, it seems to make sense: Give employees all the tools they need to innovate, make space for a little fun, then watch the sparks fly. The truth about creativity, however, is considerably less convenient. Discomfort, and even a degree of hardship, are what drive creativity, not bean bag chairs and ping pong tables."

New York Times: ‘The Geography of Genius,’ by Eric Weiner -- "In the early 1960s, the Soviet Union tried to make a version of Silicon Valley from scratch. A city called Zelenograd came to life on the outskirts of Moscow and was populated with all manner of brainy Soviet engineers. The hope — naturally — was that a concentration of clever minds coupled with ample funding would result in a wellspring of innovation and help Russia keep pace with California’s electronics boom. The experiment worked as well as one might expect. Few people will read this on a Mayakovsky-branded tablet or ­smartphone."

Read An Excerpt Of "The Geography of Genius" By Eric Weiner

Watch A Trailer For "The Geography of Genius"

This program aired on January 22, 2016.


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