Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On The High Ground

Since when was genius found respectable?

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
There are no easy steps along the rocks of the high mountain pass where few or none have been before and those who tread that rarified and lofty atmosphere may be envied by those below but they are seldom trusted.

If you would be accepted, respected and embraced by the hum drum, predictable opinions of the even, unruffled society you see around you then don't be original, innovative, experimental and adventuresome. And heaven forbid you should sprout wings and fly. If they catch you airborne the rifles will quickly come off the shoulders and take aim. And after you've gone to "the undiscovered country" they will make a trophy of you, admire you, posthumously publish your works and erect a memorial to you n the park.

Those who step out on the dangerous promontories of art, science and philosophy can only survive if they have a sense of humor. Horatio Nelson said "I could not tread these perilous paths in safety, if I did not keep a saving sense of humor." When Auguste Rodin created his statue of Balzac he would have known he was breaking all sorts of rules. He must have had a big smile on his face.

I have always admired my, and more profoundly, other people's unorthodox ways of doing things. I was the principle player in a musical one year and had a solo dance. I'm not much of a dancer but the choreographer was notably uninterested in helping me. She just wanted to stage the ensemble numbers and didn't think my dance was important even though it was the only solo dance in the show. She had given me a few basic steps and I tried to expand them into something interesting but was having a hard time with it. In musical theatre there is someone known as the Dance Captain. That person is like the shop steward for the corps dancers. Since I was a principle I didn't come under his jurisdiction. But he had seen me struggling with my dance.

We had a few preview performances after which the choreographer left. I went to the Dance Captain and asked him if he could help me. He said "Sure." We had a tape of the music, played it and he began. Taking the steps the choreographer had given me and starting me out on what I thought was the wrong foot, he untied the knot I had made for myself and redesigned the dance. In five minutes I had a dance that was colorful, vigorous, authentic, fit what the orchestra did and which I enjoyed doing. I said "Sam, you're a genius." He didn't reply, he just grinned.

I had to go to court on a stupid matter and after several appearances in front of several judges nothing was decided. I needed an attorney but couldn't afford one. A friend recommended a lawyer who was willing to take the case for a pittance. We went in to court where he came up with a totally unorthodox solution which no one had thought of but which pleased everybody and I walked out of there with a decision in my favor. I said "Herb, you're a genius." He said "You think that was good? You should see me with a jury." I never did, unfortunately. I'll bet he was brilliant.

I've known a sparse few geniuses in my life, I wish I knew more. I would find them respectable even if they aren't.

DB - The Vagabond

(This is not a contest.)

At what event of the past do you wish you could be present? Why?

2 responses so far.

Thank you.


pacifica62 said...

I can't say as I personally know any geniuses. I know of some eccentric people but I would not consider them geniuses. I don't suppose it would be easy to be different and original and do amazing things in art, science, music etc. Many would never be understood, trusted or appreciated and yet they continue on enriching our world.

Arlene (AJ) said...

Geniuses, my husband always says I think I'm one as I always say that I'm right ....little does he know I am. LOL.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Sometimes working in our area of expertise can seem genius to others.