The Geography of Genius

A Search for the World's Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley (2016.1)


关于本书 About the book

In The Geography of Genius, acclaimed travel writer Weiner sets out to examine the connection between our surroundings and our most innovative ideas. He explores the history of places, like Vienna of 1900, Renaissance Florence, ancient Athens, Song Dynasty Hangzhou, and Silicon Valley, to show how certain urban settings are conducive to ingenuity. And, with his trademark insightful humor, he walks the same paths as the geniuses who flourished in these settings to see if the spirit of what inspired figures like Socrates, Michelangelo, and Leonardo remains. In these places, Weiner asks, “What was in the air, and can we bottle it?”

This link can be traced back through history: Darwin’s theory of evolution gelled while he was riding in a carriage. Freud did his best thinking at this favorite coffee house. Beethoven, like many geniuses, preferred long walks in the woods.

本书金句 Key insights

● Another reason Athenians were so creative was their enthusiasm for foreign ideas.

● He found that at certain times certain places have been the cradles of numerous brilliant minds.

● Confucian culture generally discouraged people from quickly embracing novel ideas and “strange doctrines” but this didn’t prevent creativity. Instead, new ideas like the woodblock prints were adopted in the context of tradition – in this case China’s monasteries – which allowed them to combine the past with the present.

● Silicon Valley’s courage to face failure manifests itself in other ways too. People who work there aren’t afraid of taking big risks because they know they can easily find a new job.