Thursday, September 29, 2005

Only Geniuses Should Read This Post.

I have a sneaking suspicion that we as a people are held back by our notion of “genius”

Am I the only person that gets a little riled up when you watch one of these promo bits for a movie or show, and it’s like everyone is a genius. The director, star actor, the non-star actor, the dog, the grip, the caterer, the fluffer … everyone’s a genius.

Now the thing is, I don’t have a problem with everyone being a genius. I actually embrace that. My problem is with the way we use the term.

We use it primarily as a means of identifying people who we deem to have an extraordinary talent. We say, “so and so is a genius, they are greater than us at such and such.” It’s basically a god construct. The genius is god. Look at the god and his supernatural powers.

But of course we also readily acknowledge that geniuses are not gods, they are human beings. Like all of us, they fart, cough, get old and die. Except they have this unique talent …

I think this conflict creates a knot in our string of something or other (life maybe…).

If we subscribe to the genius-as-god construct, then what of the boy-genius who becomes a man? Or Michael Jordan getting older and losing his hops? The writer who nails the “great American Novel,” and then retires. It seems to me time is always the great equalizer. Or that is to say – if you think you know a genius, maybe you haven’t hung around them long enough.

I submit that genius is a zone that is accessible to everyone. It’s “THE zone.” When you’re in the zone, or the groove, or the pocket … you are also in the land of genius.

It also conveniently relates to the notion of a communal pool/reservoir of ideas that we all give to and draw from.

So genius could be, perhaps, the feeling of actually drinking, or giving to that pool. The transaction process of a certain original thought or perspective entering your consciousness is genius.

This is a concept that fits better in the big picture. We’re not conflicted here between god and human. If we separate genius from the religious/moral god-construct, then maybe we can remove the ceiling on our ambition. We allow everyone the capacity for genius.

Now while we gain a world full of potential geniuses, we do sacrifice something as well. I think the biggest loss would be a ton of great album/blog/art titles. Artists get a kick out of recognizing the balance, the yin and yang. Pretty Ugly. Perfectly Flawed, Peaceful at War, Happy Sad. These are all potential artsy-fartsy titles that would no longer pack the same punch. Presuming they packed some punch in the first place of course.

So we lose the conceit of genius. We lose the muse. We lose some of the mystery … the oooh-ahhh … because ultimately if anyone can enter “the genius zone,” then being a genius is not such a big deal.

But we gain everyone’s involvement. And what’s worth doing if everyone can’t partake right? We lose the divide and conquer.

Michael Jordan is often called a genius. But he’s no genius when he grabs a baseball bat. And his genius was not the same as age took its toll on his physical abilities. So he was a genius for a moment. There was a period of time when he basically lived by the idea pool, and was constantly drinking and giving. Every time he leapt into the air, contorted his body, and carved out an original perspective on how to achieve an end vis-à-vis a basketball. That was genius. He wasn’t a genius in the introductions, or even while dribbling the ball up the court, it wasn’t until he did that thing we had never seen previously …and not a moment before or after.

Stevie Wonder, Einstein, Hitler … these guys are all geniuses. They all at some point demonstrated an excess of ability to achieve their goal. But they’re all also flawed in various ways. They aren’t gods (though there may be an argument for Stevie Wonder).

We have all stepped into the zone. We’ve all experienced genius. That’s why we can toss the term around so liberally. We all know that feeling, that surreal step into another dimension that constitutes everything going exactly as you will it.

The chick is digging all your game, the baseball looks like a beachball, the story is telling itself, you dominated Madden one day in all possible ways, or maybe you got those tater-tots out the oven at just the right time. And they were magical, amazing, beautifully-absurd, happy/sad tater-tots.

Seriously … my tater-tots last night were genius. That’s how I came to write this…

Genius is everywhere around us. Genius is a challenge. It’s always rented, never owned.

So don’t cheat yourself. Next time you get a little surly because that grip is being called a genius, and you know he's just a turd in grip clothing. Know that it’s no big deal. So are you ... you know, technically speaking. You may not be in the zone right now, but you will be … at some point … maybe …


  1. genious might be rented, but asshole is owned. Because nokmatter where you go and no matter what you do, theres ALWAYS an asshole
    Theres hardly ever a genious.
    but your riff was cool

  2. I think I've been to an a**hole free zone before. But it could very well be that the asshole zone is accessed more frequently than the genius zone. lol.

  3. Hitler a genius? Considering the city in which you live, that's one of your best jokes yet.

  4. I really wanted to read this, but I'm too old to read tiny grey on black.

  5. How about everyone who goes on Oprah? She calls everyone a 'genius.' No one on Oprah is a genius; not even her recent claim that Jon Stewart is a genius. Only popular people who are talented go on her show. Here's what I think. The pool you refer to is more a place where intelligent come to exchange the foundations laid by real geniuses. We are not all geniuses...not even close. There are some no doubt but they ain't on place like Oprah. No doubt the usual suspects in the past fit the role - Aristotle, Dante, Newton; to name a shocking precious few. Today, with the media invloved, everyone has a shot at being a 'genius'. My conceptualization of who is a genius is extremely tight. Hitler does not belong for reasons that can't be debated here! Interesting post.

  6. Anonymous1/04/2006

    oh damn "the commentator", i couldnt even finish reading your post, i got lost at "place where intelligent come to exchange the foundations laid by real geniuses" what does that even mean, i obviously am no genius, perchance a genius such as yourself could find a better way to explain himslef to a dimwhited impleton such as myself.
    piece brother
    we want prenup...yaaaa.....


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