Two Flavors of Genius

The ability to change is the most important skill and tradition. And the ability to synthesize effortlessly, without losing one’s dignity, character or spiritual prowess. Because it is an ability recognized only by those who have usurped aesthetic self-indulgence, who are not attached to forms and appearances and may thus mold them again and again. Such is the nature of a realized person, much like a true artist can throw away one great work and still endlessly create more. The forms of an art are both illusions and profound truths, more real than the person who presents them. However, their appearance is like a metaphor, an allusion or between-the-lines description of the real nature of what they represent.

Change is also the ability to perceive the future state of things. In the world of art, significance is acknowledged by fresh creations, new ideas, themes and modes which have previously been unexplored. We think of famous artists for their revolutionary pulse in the community. An artist must perceive the nature of their group and community, and adapt accordingly, creating what their peers can sense coming over the crest of the next horizon but not yet feel and envision. Indeed, recollecting the history of art, one can see the progression between movements as almost expected or obvious. Each segues into the next like a symphonic movement.

This is the nature of survival within society, no matter one’s skill or trade. One must be a kind of ‘diviner’ who can present ideas just accessible to peers, continuously maintaining a zone of security, employment or comfort. One’s survival does not function like that other kind of genius, the lone wolf, who tends their own skills or sword regardless of what society regards. Survival is sometimes, but not as often, awarded to a lone wolf: one whose unique skills are explored alone without regard for society (“genius is his own reward”). In fact, a “lone wolf genius” can imprison themselves in their own work, as a character of their own creation. In such a case, it is questionable whether such a person has not lost their wider sense of the world, and merely let their talent become a platform by which to be enamored of their own romanticized thoughts. This kind of genius will become like their work: predictable.

However, such genius would still push the boundaries of their own possibilities. It is only one who has become comfortable with their own abilities, ceasing to progress further, who is stale and abandoned of their muse.


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