Today I accused someone of being a genius. He modestly denied it. He is wrong. But I get why he doesn’t like the idea.
If somebody said that to me after looking at a couple of my paintings, sure, my ego would be gratified. But secretly I’d be wondering what was wrong with them. I’d think they were over-idealizing me. And I’d feel the impulse to even the balance by telling them just how made of clay my feet are.
The responsibilities for being a genius are crushing. You’d have to walk around geniusing all the time, and you could never slip up, or people would think you never really were one at all. Who needs that kind of pressure?
We have the wrong idea about what genius really is. Genius is not limited to Nobel-prize-winning brainiacs who slid out of the womb with fully developed, off-scale IQs, composing Shakespearean sonnets backwards in French. Genius does not belong only to super-special godlike people who get to fly around on Olympus while the rest of us peasants are doomed to hoe our meager little mindfields for eternity.
All it takes to be a genius is to tell the truth about yourself and get it right. Then you discover this truth is not just the truth about you; it’s the truth about everybody. It goes flying like a spark from person to person, changing each one as it goes. It alters our collective DNA. We all end up a little richer for it, whether we are aware of it or not.
Anybody can do it. Anybody, no matter how fucked up they happen to be. Sometimes being fucked up actually helps. It’s a tunnel down into the collective unconscious where all the deepest things are.
Anybody can do it. Anybody. Even me. Even you.