The Nature of Genius

Literally dozens of very very bad cop dramas, TV shows, novels, movies, plays, and books write about genius. When I worked on One Inch Punch, a book about a genius, I knew I had to attempt to thoroughly understand my subject properly. I figured that if I didn’t try to grasp what it meant to have exceptional abilities, a mind that worked so much faster than other minds that the person concerned felt a certain inexplicable lifelong boredom and loneliness and anger and tedium, that either isolation from the world in the exercise of giftedness, succumbing to addiction, or surrender to a kind of dull rejection of ones true inner self, then I had no place attempting such a difficult subject. I subjected myself to dozens of books and hundreds of articles on the subject. The only person I read who seemed to truly understand the nature of genius  was Arthur Schopenhauer. Of course he tends towards the hyperbole.

“No difference of rank, position, or birth, is so great as the gulf that separates the countless millions who use their head only in the service of their belly, in other words, look upon it as an instrument of the will, and those very few and rare persons who have the courage to say: No! it is too good for that; my head shall be active only in its own service; it shall try to comprehend the wondrous and varied spectacle of this world, and then reproduce it in some form, whether as art or as literature, that may answer to my character as an individual.” (The Art of Literature)

A genius isn’t someone who is simply vastly intelligent, or who has a complete grasp of numerous disciplines. A genius is someone who is able to surpass knowledge into a complete intuitive grasp of her subject and while exercising mastery, advance knowledge and technique to such a degree as to give new insight to an extent unperceived before. But this is not why I am writing about genius. I am writing about its destruction. In One Inch Punch, Gordon Brock is undoubtedly a genius, but he is a failed genius. The world, in the form of bullies, tedium, bourgeois existence, and a sense of overwhelming meaningless has taken all thirst for knowledge from him. He has no belief in love, or sex or any kind of real connectedness, though he fools himself into thinking he has meaningful relationships with others. Worse, he angrily denies his exceptional gifts to friends and loved ones when they try to confront his with his failed potential and his refusal to live up to his ideals. In fact it is only after he reaches a point of perspective that he truly understands that his anger at his own failed potential has hurt so many others. One Inch Punch is his attempt at redemption.

So why am I writing this? Is this some kind of dull advertisement for a book I have written? Well, I suppose there is a vanity in everything a writer writes, but I cant help myself thinking and writing about the nature of genius, and were in particular geniuses are these days. Apparently everyone who writes a novel or has an original idea is a genius. This is not true. After seven years of writing about Gordon Brock in One inch Punch, I shudder when I see newspaper articles about gifted children. Our gifted children need protection not exposure. My researches point to the strange truism that few geniuses wind up in gifted classes, they tend to drop out.  The gifted the brilliant and occasionally the genius  are subsumed into large corporation gifted programmes, put on contract, and their gifts are enslaved and patented and drained from them like their souls. That’s where the geniuses are. They are cared for inside research labs in multinational corporations or teaching in colleges. Real genius is in the service not just of humanity but of the world. It is not for sale, and cannot be patented. We need to change how we regard our geniuses. We need to give them the freedom to change our world.