As threatened, the second vent of three.
Please do not call me a genius.
I get called this a lot. There is no basis for it, and yet it happens. It happened again last week. I can only speculate about why. Well, this be my blog, maties, so I speculate. Here’s a wild stab. I think maybe some people who in the past have called me crazy, or a fool—two other things I have been called A LOT—finally realize those are hurtful words. Crying “genius” seems to be an attempt to say something nice while still placing me outside the walls of normalcy. Whether that’s the prompt or not, the label has no justification.
Hildegard von Bingen was a genius. Laurence Sterne was a genius. Marcel Duchamp, Toni Morrison and Jorge Luis Borges were geniuses. And William Shakespeare. And Miguel de Cervantes. And Emily Brontë. So were Albert Einstein, Alan Turing and Stephen Hawking. Li Bai. Mozart and Beethoven. Akira Kurosawa. John Coltrane. There is no shortage of examples. What they have in common is that they were individuals of high intelligence and disciplined imagination who produced significant, original work. It is also fact that what they produced has been evaluated critically and deemed fruit of genius.
Do I belong in that company?
I would say almost certainly not. Those folks were giants and heavyweights. I might be a backyard, shade tree, small town shadow they cast, but here is a litmus test: high intelligence and disciplined imagination producing significant, original work.
I have a high IQ, but that is not the same as high intelligence. Rand Paul, for instance, proves every day that high IQ may result only in faster, vaster stupidity. There is always slippage between IQ and intelligence. The jury in my case is still out.
I also have what resembles disciplined imagination, but the border between discipline and obsession is defined by results. Habdvarsha and the ever-evolving Dvarsh language may spring from uniquely brilliant, focused creativity. They may also slough from what some call fixation. A heart may sing that its inventions are clever, well realized and culturally valuable, but a heart is easily fooled. Self-examination and objectivity never walk hand in hand.
No one besides me has looked. No one else has deeply and critically considered my slender books. Until someone does, calling me a genius is just a prettier way of saying madman or fool. It’s another dismissal. Please don’t do it unless you look hard at and ponder what I make. Really, don’t call me that. It hurts my feelings.
Outside my newsletter or this column, I talk about my invented world less and less. When I do let slip a comment, tactful people say something like, “That’s wild.” Taking a cue, I change the subject. “How about you?” I ask. “How’s your kid? What are you reading?” And we’re off, a couple of muggles on common ground. No genius to speak of.