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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

#16 dirac

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 03:55 PM

Hmm…hundreds of people looked at this thread, and only 14 had an opinion on the matter. I find this to be an implausible ratio. It's an interesting topic, let us know what you think!


I put "Elusive Muse" into the VCR again recently and noted that Suzanne Farrell's mother had her own take on this issue. Under normal circumstances she might have been expected to object to a sexagenerian displaying erotic interest in her teenaged daughter, but in this case, "He was a genius!"

#17 samba38

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Posted 07 February 2003 - 11:47 AM

Genius and good character are no more or less likely to mix than genius and bad character -- and jerks with no talent at all.
For every great human artist -- Yo Yo Ma comes to mind -- there are people whose company you would shun and people whose personality you simply don't care about. Would you do a kindness/character screen on the best heart surgeon in town if you really needed his talents?

#18 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 07 February 2003 - 11:54 AM

I sure would if I had to work for him.

#19 grace

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Posted 07 February 2003 - 06:03 PM

samba's post is very interesting to me....food for thought.

when you write "Genius and good character are no more or less likely to mix ", it seems to me that, in general, we may be more likely to ASSUME that good character WOULD mix with genius - since 'genius' seems like a virtuous quality, as is "good character".

i guess it comes down to how one defines 'genius'.

is it an amoral description - extraordinary competence AT something/anything? or is it more than that - a complex of human qualities?

i suppose one COULD define hitler as a genius AT what he did...

but i would never have put that word together with his name - i guess 'genius' DOES have some moral meaning to me - which is a bit wierd, when i think about it. i guess i grew up assuming the word 'genius' was attached to 'good' people - which must be where we are getting this discussion from. maybe lots of us grew up thinking that....

#20 Watermill

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Posted 07 February 2003 - 08:32 PM

Robert J. Oppenheimer was a genius at nuclear physics.
He was the "father of the Atomic Bomb".
He only showed "good character" when he stood up to the US government and tried to reverse the horrors his Manhattan Project team had unleashed.

By contrast, Werner VonBraun was a genius at rocket science.
He actively, and happily built V2 missiles for the Nazis. He supervised the use of slave labor for his rocket program. He never had a problem with that, denying it was of any importance til the day he died. This was not a "good character".

My point is that genius brings consequences to the world. How the genius handles these consequences, is sometimes more important than the worldly effects of the work they leave behind.

VonBraun eventually put the US on the moon. Except for American chest puffing what has that really amounted to?
Having recently viewed a documentary of his waltz with Hitler, I felt ashamed for him. Some genius.

#21 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 07 February 2003 - 09:01 PM

[Board Host Beanie on. . .]

This has little to do with what Watermill has written, which falls well within the bounds of interesting and impassioned discourse, but just because we've had a somewhat rough night here at Board Host Central, may I ask that we neither a: invoke Godwin's Law nor b: venture too far into the quicksand of politics. . .at least tonight.

That being said, further discussion from all parties is welcome.

[Board Host Beanie off.]




edited to replace non-functioning link

Edited by carbro, 03 August 2005 - 08:16 PM.


#22 Mel Johnson

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Posted 08 February 2003 - 06:39 AM

I think that part of the Western idea of genius has become associated with the concept of virtue, especially after the Enlightenment, in which any great good was pictured as an angel, and described in blazonry as the "Genius of (Liberty, Knowledge, Strength, France)" and so on. The idea of "genius" may have become confounded with the Arab/Persian "djinn", elemental fire-spirits of immense power, but no particular moral sense. The Djinn were sort of relativists run amok! "Whatever [and I do mean whatever] works..."

#23 grace

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 02:25 AM

understood, leigh.

"Godwin's Law"?

:confused:

#24 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 06:28 AM

Click the link, Grace!

#25 grace

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 04:29 AM

DOH! :o

....oh leigh! that's wonderful.

;)

#26 Alexandra

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 05:36 AM

Has not the 20th century (and we still seem, alas, to be in the 20th century philosophically) concept of the Genius as Tortured Artist/Bad Guy replaced the 18th century angel genius, as the anti-hero and outsider have replaced the hero? Imagine, if you can, a painter who does not abuse his models, is not a drug addict, has been married to the same woman for 20 years, does not have a mistress, is a model father, and is nice to his mother. Imagine that you are this poor fellow's PR agent. How can you sell him? Dull as dirt -- he can't possibly be an artist. He's nice. He's decent. He's doomed.

#27 Mary J

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 08:01 AM

I suppose the alternative is an otherwise decent person with a form of mental illness that heightens perception or involves mood swings - Van Gogh comes to mind, or the currently popular Virginia Woolf. The behavior is not the result of a conscious choice to be moral or not, or to conform to society's rules.

#28 Alexandra

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 08:04 AM

I think Mary's described the contemporary notion of a "good genius". But I wonder, thinking about it, if my example above (the Nice Guy) could be considered a genius in today's climate. If his art reflects his life, I think it would be considered to have no edge. If it reflected a darker inner life, he'd receive serious consideration, but people would spend the next century poking around to figure out where the darkness came from. If he's not evil, he's bipolar or schizophrenic does seem to be the contemporary stereotype.

#29 Farrell Fan

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Posted 03 August 2005 - 05:45 PM

I'm glad this topic surfaced again. I only know one ballet genius, and she's very nice.

#30 Hans

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Posted 03 August 2005 - 06:10 PM

I can't believe I never posted on this thread before. :blush:

I don't have much to say--just that I don't care how much of a genius someone is; if his/her behavior is outright rude or cruel or unreasonable (as opposed to minorly impolite) I wouldn't work with him/her.

Anecdotally, many people don't consider Béjart to be a genius, but then, many others do, and he is one of the kindest people I have ever met. In terms of an artist who is difficult to work with, look no further can Kathleen Battle. Everyone agrees she's a great singer, but she's so horrible to work with that she's been banned from every major opera house in the US...and then contrast with Renée Fleming, who is an even greater singer than Battle and by all accounts extremely nice. :wub:


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