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Can a "genius" or a "real artist" be a decent pers


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Poll: Can a "genius" or a "real artist" be a decent pers (36 member(s) have cast votes)

Can a "genius" or a "real artist" be a decent pers

  1. true, extraordinary talent and decency don't mix (11 votes [14.47%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.47%

  2. false, they do (65 votes [85.53%])

    Percentage of vote: 85.53%

Vote

#1 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 08 January 2003 - 11:21 PM

In the past few days I've heard more than one person say the two never mix - that genius demands too much to allow the person to adhere to normal standards of behavior. I thought I'd open the question to the floor. What do you all think?

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 09 January 2003 - 03:41 AM

I'm the one guy on the poll so far, gang. I say the two qualities are not mutually exclusive, and I've seen and worked with plenty of examples of this contrarian opinion, and some of them are even members and posters to these boards!:)

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 09 January 2003 - 05:36 AM

Absolutely a genius can be a decent person -- and none of my comments on other threads about artistic directors' management skills were in any way meant to imply the contrary.

#4 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 09 January 2003 - 06:11 AM

Leigh, I'm not sure that I would consider "genius" and "real artist" to be synonymous. I think there are a lot of real artists in the world who are not necessarily geniuses (genii?). And there are certainly some geniuses who are absolutely not what I would consider real artists! In fact, I think I might question if there are any, or at least very many, who are both!

As to whether a genius can be a decent person, absolutely! Not that they all are, however ;) I have known some who really do not have people skills at all, but are frighteningly brilliant or brilliant in what they do artisically. It seems to me that sometimes the genius aspect of what they do does not always apply to other aspects of their lives, which is why I wonder if the two terms of genius and real artist are that related. Does being a genius in terms of one thing, like choreography or music or performing artist or painting, make one a genius?

#5 fendrock

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Posted 09 January 2003 - 06:43 AM

I should have voted false, as I didn't actually read the statement...

Many geniuses/real artists are incredibly focused on their area of genius/art.

This may mean that they often prefer to pursue their passion at the expense of acting "decently".

As an example, I am reminded of a passage from Maria Tallchief's autobiography, where she decided to separate from her husband because she enjoyed dancing more than being a wife (not that this means that she wasn't a perfectly nice person, just that she put artistic accomplishment ahead of her personal life at the time).

#6 dirac

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Posted 09 January 2003 - 11:36 AM

I think it's very clear that they can and do mix. However, people of great talent tend to be cut a lot of slack by the people around them, and that can encourage self-indulgent behavior. This can be exacerbated when the talented person in question is also in a position of direct power over other people, as in the case of a director or choreographer. It seems to be very hard for "stars" in any field not to get a little spoiled. Even if they're the most decent people in the world, the special treatment and attention they receive has a certain effect how could it not? They're human. But that doesn't excuse the more extreme forms of abuse, demands, and power plays.


However, focusing on one thing with great intensity can lead to less-than-spectacular social skills and a certain lack of consideration. But that can be true of any demanding job that requires 24/7 attention, and "genius" doesn't necessarily enter into it.

#7 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 09 January 2003 - 12:50 PM

Hmm - there are people voting "true" but staying silent. Would those of you who think they don't mix elaborate? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

#8 Dale

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Posted 09 January 2003 - 01:09 PM

I'm not sure I answered correctly because a statement was not used to answer true or false, rather a question. I think a genius or an artist can act like a decent person. I'd agree with Dirac that "great" people are often indulged, which can lead to poor behavior. A great choreographer who berates dancers while working would most likely do the same if he/she worked in an office. They might lack coping skills. Or they are just bullies.

I remember when I first started going to Manhattan School of Music when I was 14, I was told to accept that I would be yelled at or humiliated by my teachers, coaches or conductors. This was called artistic temperament. Later, when I started at the New York Times as a copy boy, I was told that editors or writers might yell at me and take out their frustrations at me because working at a newspaper was very stressful and these were the top editors in the world. It was accepted and I accepted it. But that's crap. By now, I've come across brilliant people, geniuses, artists that know how to deal with people or act civalized. I've found many talented people who didn't like getting into fights because it wasted energy that could be put towards their work.

I think the key is not to put geniuses/artists on a pedestal in that they are perfect and brilliant in all aspects of their life. Wasn't that one of the themes of the play Amadeus? Salieri was pius and expected to be rewarded by God with genius. Yet, Mozart was crude and rude but had great talent.

On the other hand, spending 8 hours a day in a practice room doesn't exactly help with people skills. I came across a few artists (child prodigies particularly) that did not know how to handle themselves in social situations because they didn't have the training by playing with kids their own age or hadn't gone to school. Those things teach us how to deal with other people or our frustrations.

#9 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 09 January 2003 - 03:16 PM

Some of the confusion is mine. I made a statement for the poll (talent and decency don't mix) that's the opposite of the thread title.

I apologize! [and I edited the options for clarity]

#10 BW

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Posted 09 January 2003 - 03:46 PM

Thanks Leigh! Though I'm one of the majority, so far, that says they do mix! I like the new choice of words!

#11 grace

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 01:46 AM

i have voted 'false', on the wording of the poll itself.

i agree with dirac and with dale.

i also agree with victoria, that the terms
'genius',
'real artist' , and
someone with 'extraordinary talents or gifts',
refer to (at least) three distinct and potentially separable things...

(although someone COULD be all of these!).

the issue, however, beyond the semantics of the poll, DOES concern me.

i am inclined to believe that unless someone is a decent human being, i really don't want to even know or see what they can do artistically...but usually, of course, one finds out AFTERwards, what the person is like...

#12 grace

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 01:51 AM

p.S.

i assume i am in the minority in holding that last opinion?

#13 diane

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 08:46 AM

Grace, do you mean that you may be in the minority in holding the opinion that one usually finds out later, or in that you prefer to not know of or see what they do if they are not a decent person?

I have known some very talented individuals, who were called by some to be "genius", and some were nice; some were horrid.
(many were "real artists" , or even "with great talents", but not many were what I would have called a genius)

It would be better - of course - if anyone working with other people would develop at least a few people-skills.

I have also experienced it that the things we dancers thought were absolutely wonderful - and usually the choreographer was real nice, too - were not taken well by the audience. But, that is another topic....

I think it does not have to be true, that to be a genius, one has to be rotten to your dancers (or whoever!).

-diane-

#14 grace

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 03:31 AM

diane - i meant that i imagine i am in the minority in CARING that artists 'should' also be decent people - and further that undeniably 'great' artists, working with 'ordinary' people, should treat them with the respect any human is due - always.

and that people whose values disgust me (if i happen to know that), are not people whose work i feel i should take any interest in. to take a severe example - if we think of nazism, or serious racism, or pedophilia, or child cruelty (or animal cruelty), or whatever you find absolutely unacceptable behaviour - if a person with such a history or active inclination produces some appealing art - ought we to admire it?

ho hum - THAT will set the cat among the pigeons...sorry, 'guys'!

;)

i agree with this, which diane wrote:

It would be better - of course - if anyone working with other people would develop at least a few people-skills.

i would add that it's not so hard, really. and that many such people in dance DO "work with people" ALL their working lives - and some seem to get worse rather than better over the years. i think that has to do with what was said, up above, about great artists (or 'famous people') being increasingly indulged as their reputation increases/as they age.

p.S. nice to be speaking with you again, diane. :)

#15 BalletNut

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 12:56 PM

I voted that they do mix, even though it is true that talent and uniqueness can make a person appear somewhat eccentric. I would like to add that I have had to deal with a number of people who think that the two are interchangeable. This kind of twisted logic reminds me of "all fish are vertebrates. All fish live underwater. Therefore, all vertebrates live underwater." Translated into our terms: "Geniuses/great artists are prone to personal excess/arrogance/eccentricity/mannerisms/depression. I am eccentric/arrogant/depressed/ill-mannered. Therefore, I am a genius/great artist." :rolleyes:


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