From our earliest social interactions we are inundated with concepts related to spirituality and mysticism, carefully steeped in acceptable social precepts. We may recall the first time we were played the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, shown the artwork of Leonardo Da Vinci, taught the equations and theories of Albert Einstein, and thus introduced to “Genius.”
With further indoctrination into mainstream academia and culture, we continually strive to access our own genius, to comprehend this rather unbalanced intellectual hierarchy we are expected to perceive as normal. These people are special, capable of abnormal work outside the range of general inquiry. What is it that empowers these enigmas, these outliers of society to transcend, to conceive of the previously inconceivable, to venture into the inaccessible areas dividing the present and future, bringing to the world science, art, and theory years, sometimes centuries, ahead of their respective times?
To begin our understanding of this mystifying phenomenon of “GENIUS,” mainstream inquiry offers us insight into the concrete foundations from which the greats began to build. Ancient philosophers, renaissance masters, ‘Enlightened’ scientists, musical prodigies — they all shared childhoods (and often adulthoods) marked by ostracism and misunderstanding. They seemed destined for greatness in their respective disciplines, regardless of their socioeconomic status, upbringing, or cultural climate.
Cultural climate or social milieu is often associated with genius, inasmuch as the person of genius in question has been accredited by contemporary critics who measure the ‘genius’ work by what I would term their level of ‘Pre-relevant contribution’ to an aspect of our society. Different from antiquated conceptions of genius as existing ‘Potentialers,’ capable of superior work, today’s genius as at the mercy of physical output, as accessibility is the cornerstone of modern invention, figurative or otherwise. Merely formulating ideas and transmitting them arbitrarily to the accumulating masses touched by them is a practice of obsolescence, a misguided exercise in futility. Today’s genius is not a worthy hermit, but a self-identifying product, maintaining its work methodically between opportunism and consumerism (for the two are always intertwined.)
Without this constant awareness of ‘genius,’ many of the greatest inventions or artworks may have taken place in complete obscurity. These days, Western culture places a price on genius, among most everything else, and for this reason its connotation has gradually been diluted to nothing more than a touchstone of endorsement for a product, ingenious floor cleanser or ingenious medical device, sold by self-proclaimed “geniuses” who purport their desire to improve our quality of life for a necessary (and usually high) price.
Because of this shift in the “genius” factor over time, what once meant self-less communal improvement in ancient times has now come to mean increased leverage for personal gain — an implicit understanding that with this power comes not great responsibility, but great wealth.
To come back to the notion of “genius” origin, a deeper comprehension of the purpose of genius must be attained in order to redirect the flow of its output from personal to universal. If all humans of genius recognized such as an intended gift to mankind, inspired entirely by the universe, rather than as lucky a coincidence as life itself, the result generated by such persons would be exponentially greater in magnanimity.
One may argue that most genius output does inevitably benefit the common man in the world. If there were no genius to synthesize resources into devices of medicine, transportation, and communication, our current ‘superior’ way of life (if we adopt the perspective of progress) would be nullified. However, the age-old conflicts of man now rear heads as heinous and abject as those of antiquity. The geniuses of now are lured by the misdirected value system of the mainly secular West.
Here, the work of genius does little more than bolster the ego and the wallet, attracting the masses toward advancements that do little to improve the overall quality of life, while disregarding areas of the world where basic human necessities go extinct daily. Selfless acts are praised in receptions, buildings given names to honor the ‘selfless,’ and the philanthropist has sacrificed nothing to attain the ‘secular sainthood’ with which he or she is endowed. This ideology is not obviously confined to genius people, but my intention is to expose the unfortunate manner in which those people so excessively capable of positive world transformation are guided by the self and not the selfless. It seems that philanthropy has become the lucky bonus, the fringe benefit of genius productivity, rather than its sole intention.