Genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recovered at will.
Great literary and artistic geniuses are celebrated for their vision and creativity, but even they can’t compete with the pure imagination of a child. The French poet and essayist Charles Baudelaire was very much aware of this, and wrote about it in his influential 1863 essay “The Painter of Modern Life.” For Baudelaire, the ability to tap into this childlike way of thinking and seeing was a fundamental part of adult genius. “The child sees everything as a novelty,” he wrote. “The child is always ‘drunk.’ Nothing is more like what we call inspiration than the joy the child feels in drinking in shape and color.”