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August 11, 2003

What is Genius?

i think of genius as a frantic state of creativity. what genius is is a polyphonic kind of continual expression and combination of intelligences. an individual possesed of (by) genius has a desparate need to make something happen in a way that combines things that are not obvious to the outside observer. genius always draws on a big pool of knowledge but does so in a way that makes its expression appear spontaneous. a genius develops a cross-functional vocabulary through a galaxy of shortcuts. genius is about the energetic orchestration of rapidly assimilated concepts. genius reinvents a domain in its own idiom, and thus genius defies translations. intellect parses genius one step at a time trying to understand the modus operandi.

penn jillette.

as i say this i am trying to think of criminal genius and deviant genius, the controlled pathology. genius is not methodological, it is searching. perhaps genius that is pathological doesn't understand how others don't understand, and doesn't care. madness is genius that doesn't seek transforming public expression - only observation and assimilation.

henry kissinger.

a genius tries to do gravitate all meaning to his inventions. they interpret life through their twisted prisms. the genius is disabused when they try to explain too much, overloading their creation with meaning. they need another breakthrough. the genius destroys himself if he is unsuccessful.

richard pryor.

a genius must attain mastery. he perfects and re-perfects. he throws it all away and starts over. he spins off a million tangents and throws them away. a genius plays with large dangerous tools. a genius gambles using tells too subtle for the untrained eye. the genius throws himself in the garbage just to test his own genius. he pushes the limits and pretends to be immortal just to see if he can, and finally he achieves.

jackson pollack.

after the genius, if they are recognized in their own time, they change the paradigm. suddenly it all becomes obvious - the dots are connected. the elemental genius of the connection becomes commodified. the public overdoses. pretenders and hacks rip off. earlier works are scrutinized.

woody allen.

we expect that the genius knows about life. maybe they do, but they probably look at the world as if they were an alien race. ordinary comforts don't suffice. genius has no peace. thus they must simplify their own life, discipline it - or throw it into extremes. they reject the free life, they spend too much time attending to the demands of their talents.

billie holiday.

genius is hungry and predatory. its talent doesn't save until it is manifest universally. the genius aims for the globe


genius evokes a vast sense of loss and disintegration when it is suddenly missing. on the passing of genius it is always felt that it will take several generations to find and recover what genius has discovered. one wonders how the world would have been different were it not for the genius in our presence. we are contrite for not paying it the mind we should have, we wish we had another chance to appreciate it all over again. but it is too late.

gregory hines.

Posted by mbowen at August 11, 2003 11:08 AM

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I love this post. I want to steal it, but I won't. So clearly defined, and I agree with your very interesting choices. How about Prince? I always felt he was amazingly productive.

Posted by: Liz at August 12, 2003 09:23 PM

I totally agree with every single excellent meaning to the definition of genius.

Posted by: meme at July 13, 2004 11:31 AM

I totally agree with every single excellent meaning to the definition of genius.

Posted by: meme at July 13, 2004 11:32 AM