A response

This morning I read George Francis’ Society, Morality and The Death of Genius? as part of his Society, Morality and.. series. In this article he gives his views on the lack of genius, referencing to clear examples of genius and virtuosos, and also outlining the way forward to break this cycle.

I really enjoyed reading this article. It feels like it might be going towards a manifesto, but it can’t be denied that the article is well written and clear about it’s intentions. In the last paragraph George urges the reader to make a difference, to give any sort of artist the feeling he can still succeed.

In my opinion, though, it seems that in modern time, there is no actual ‘need’ for genius any more. With the technology most people (at least within the Western world) have access to, anyone singing songs on YouTube can be picked up by celebrities to make an album and feel like a star; anyone can make, or try and make, art and upload their pictures onto the Internet to establish a following, anyone can attempt and possibly even succeed at getting their 15 minutes of fame.

With such a large number of apparent ‘talent’, and so many people waiting for a breakthrough of some sort, a way to fame and (temporary) immortality, it seems that people seem to regard true genius as something of the past.

The majority of people, also the people with no semblance of any sort of talent, seem to think money is the currency, the magic word to get into the history books, a ‘Get out of jail free’-card, and to be quite honest, if we look at the examples, for instance in current press, you can see that money can buy almost anything.

Now don’t get me wrong, I agree with the general message of the article for the full 100%, but I can see here why there is a large part of society that don’t give a damn about genius, not even real talent, for the reasons I’ve just given you.

We have to address this issue, true, but it would be a waste of time and efforts to preach to the deaf, to give a book to the blind, and to try and get some common sense in the plain thick and purposely ignorant.

When speaking of propagating this idea,  in my opinion the best way forward is to put the initial effort into the top layer of society. With this I do not mean the aristocracy and the stinking rich, but I mean the intelligent, the willing, the ones with potential. It would then be their public duty to educate and inform the unknowing.

If you take a close look at history, with reference to literacy, white bread (particularly in France), voting, you name the lot, you see that they were first only seen in the top layer of societies at that time. The aristocracy throughout time, and from Medieval times on also the Christian priests and monks, later on even the shop owners – they were the owners of power, knowledge, money, influence. That is, until the lower parts of society, not only the workers, realised they wanted a pinch of the winnings.

Now, I’m not trying to keep the traditional segregation in place here, even though it seems that the general crowd only ‘want’ things when other people have them and can’t easily get to. Wars have been fought over them.
Would  it not be a better approach to make a demand for actual genius first, then to stow it upon people who won’t give it a second glance?

Anyway, in this modern day, segregation in its traditional way is rarely possible. The internet provides answers for those with questions, it provides a soapbox for speakers who struggle to be heard. If we want to make a difference, if we want to make changes and educate the people of the potential to be genius, then the internet should be utilised fully.

We should count ourselves lucky to be living in a time with all these different sorts of media, next to the traditional means of passing on information. If we fully utilise the means at hand, then this certainly has potential, if planned out, if done well!

On the other hand, I do understand, in order to make a difference, we have to tear down any existing barriers that might slow down the process of bringing knowledge back to the public, but right now I am at a loss to find a realistic, fool-proof way to bring back Genius.

If anyone has any ideas or comment, please let me know.

xx Chrisje

    • LF
    • February 14th, 2010

    Thank you for your comment on my blog:)
    On a general level I have to agree with you, these days anyone can be famous and thought of as brilliant, it get’s quite irritating sometimes. For example this new blogger-at-the-frontrow trend, don’t get me wrong, I mean who wouldn’t love to be one of them, but it just seems wrong that people who have worked and gotten real education about fashion and the like are sitting next to people who just dress nice and then think they know everything about it. (I know some of them truly know things about the industry but definitely not all of them do).

    • George Francis
    • February 14th, 2010

    Well, I think in some respects, you’ve grasped what I was trying to say, and in others you seem to have missed the point slightly.

    I fundamentally disagree that the rise of technology has meant genius doesn’t exist any more. I don’t think proper genius, the classic authors, great painters etc. can be compared to an album sung by someone who hasn’t written it, produced through the mechanical proceedings of a major record label. Genius and 15 minutes of fame cannot be compared with each other.

    I’m agreed with you that most people are simply in the pursuit of money, and unfortunately, even some of the geniuses I referenced were simply in it for the money. But I also think it’s important for us not to focus on that, but on the social reprecussions of genius and it’s practical applications.

    I also know that whilst you aren’t trying to be sectarian, but I feel that your comments about focussing initial resources on targeting the top layer of society is counter to the message I was trying to portray. Arguably, my perspective is socialistic in it’s application, which I suppose is to be expected coming from me, and that every strata of society should be focussed on, because that way, more people can be reached, and those that don’t want to can just ignore the message.

    But thanks for your response 😀
    G.F xx

    • Oh yes, I do agree with you on most parts, however just to set the record straight: I am not saying that the rise of technology means genius doesn’t exist any more. Fortunately, there is still enough proof out there to contradict this. My point was that, now that there is access to the technology that enables the 15 minutes of fame to be easier to achieve (even though this is to be argued, again), people might not seem the need to achieve genius. I’m sure you’re familiar with the terms demand and supply, which is what I’ve tried to integrate in my response. Now that there’s all these talentshows and platforms to show your (non)talent on, people might feel that there is no need to make the best of their efforts, to get the full 100% out of their talents. Do you get what I mean?
      Thank you for your reply 🙂 xx

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