I came up with this word then. Which I still use, which is the use scenius. So genius is the talent of an individual, scenius is the talent of a whole community. And I think, you know, in history you see many examples of great sceniuses, like that point in the Renaissance when Rafael, Michaelangelo and da Vinci were all alive at the same time and in the same cities. Or British pop culture, actually. British pop culture in various times has been that kind of scenius where suddenly all sorts of talents and opportunities came together. And you get something that is actually an ecosystem.
Now, this thing about ecosystems is that it’s impossible to tell what the important parts are. It’s not a hierarchy, you know. We’re used to thinking of things that are arranged in levels like that, with the important things at the top and the less important things at the bottom. Ecosystems aren’t like that. They’re richly interconnected and they’re co-dependent in many, many ways. And if you take one thing out of the ecosystem, you can get a collapse in quite a different place. They’re constantly rebalancing. And I feel that culture is like that. And I think that British musical culture in particular has been like that.
So my thought the other night, when I was walking home was, new ideas are articulated by individuals, but generated by communities. What we tend to do is – perhaps quite naturally – celebrate the individuals. We’re very keen on the names. But what we don’t do is to look at the whole community that they’re drawing from.
Now I’m going to give you as an example of this my own story in a very potted form.
Usually when people tell their story, they make it seem like they did it all themselves. ‘I did it my way. I’m a self-made man.’ It’s particularly notable among high-tech billionaires who tend to think that they started the world. So my story is like everybody’s story and very complicated and I’m just going to look at certain particular parts of it.