R. Buckminster Fuller is an American architect who is known for patenting the geodesic dome design, and for the discovery of the carbon allotrope which is his namesake. He is - probably more accurately - known for the saying; "everyone is born a genius. Society de-geniuses them."
I think that Fuller's own history is a perfect example of his claim. I also agree strongly with this particular statement. For instance, the C60 allotrope known as the Buckyball or Buckminsterfullerene was actually discovered by Robert Kurl, Sir Harold Koto and Richard Smalley in 1985 . Their 1996 Nobel Prize gives these men their due credit, but in the limpid word of chemistry, the R. Buckminster Fuller is wrongly assumed to be a chemist, and the discoverer of Buckminsterfullerene. The point I aim to make here is that Fuller was incontestably a genius, but he is not known as such for the correct reasons.
Socioeconomic evolution has imbued the term "genius" with melange of defining characteristics with which I don't agree. Before I get in too deep with this assertion, I should clarify that I define genius as one whose unique curiosities become manifest. That's it. Psychometrics has tried admirably to find a way to assess intelligence on a relative scale, allowing the siting of geniuses and savants as they arise. In as much as these tests do have some value to designing our current educational system (with which I also have major discordance), they also serve as a societal breech to the acceptance of the creativity from which genius comes.
I am inclined toward the idea that genius emerges from reaching outside of paradigms, and happens independently of academic guidance. Fuller's genius is identifiable in his childhood endeavors into original architecture, tool design and novel propulsion methods; he was twice expelled from Harvard. Nikola Tesla invented the first paddle-less water wheel at the age of 4; he spent 1 term at the Charles-Ferdinand University in Prague. Francisco Goya; the last of the Old Masters and the first of the Modern. Mozart and Galileo... all geniuses oppressed or quelled by economic demand, marketing and immersion into societal constructs.
I supposed this is my way of letting out some steam from the pneumatic build up of my anxiety and ambivalent contention for graduate school.
I prefer to hope that I have something unique to offer the world of intellect and scientific discovery. While I was never a prodigal child, and have most definitely been the product of academia-induced ADD-promulgated study, there is still a chance that some modicum of genius might arise in the later stages of my own evolution.
In short, it is my profound hope that I am playing out Fuller's apothegm in reverse - that I have first been de-geniused by society, and am now in the midst of my journey toward emergence.