Monday, March 9, 2009

Small Wars And A Little Peace

I always thought that the truly gifted among us, the artistic geniuses, must have a level of comfort most cannot imagine. A justification for what they did or didn’t do; felt or couldn’t feel. Sure getting that big bugger out of their mind and into the world might be a trial, might take a lot of pain, a lot of hooch, a lot of lost love. But then again, getting little buggers out of the mind takes a similar toll.

Would an artistic genius ever sweat the small stuff, even recognize the small stuff, even acknowledge rain if it dropped through the hole in the ceiling. It's like the scales of justice -- there's truth and beauty on one side, and the termite problem in the kitchen on the other.

And how nice to be rid of the endless apologies in life. Sorry I smashed your car, burnt the roast, lost the keys, broke your heart.

How nice to be able to say: Yes, I messed up, but I was working on the 5th Symphony.

“Writing is easy. All you do is sit at a typewriter and open a vein.” And for the genius, it’s blood that flows. What if you pop open a vein and all that comes out is a jello shooter or 7 up. Well, now you’ve made a mess for no reason, and you’ll probably scar. And you’ll still have to clean up. There is no saint that guards the mildly gifted.

If you’re a genius, I’ll bet you know it from the get-go. And all those razors and blood-lettings are so much the 9 to 5 of your life, with fewer coffee breaks and no dental. Tough luck.

At night, you get the promise of history to snuggle up like a warm puppy by your side.

71 comments:

  1. "If you’re a genius, I’ll bet you know it from the get-go..." and "...you get the promise of history to snuggle up like a warm puppy by your side."

    There's your question, and possibly your answer. Is it better to be a genius, and for no one to know it until history proves it after your gone? Or is it better to fix the toilet?

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  2. I have to comment again because now my WV is "gobackey." Best one ever.

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  3. Ha-ha, Petrea. I worked on the fly and the toilet is gone. Your point is so true, but it's not a choice, is it, after all. I was reading about Wallace in my dreaded New Yorker.

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  4. Your post made me think of Van Gogh. He didn't have a choice either, and his life was all torture. I wonder if it's possible to be a happy genius? Maybe I'm one, but only history will tell.

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  5. You sure know a lot of stuff, Hiker. I want you to go over the limit so I can read more of this. It barks my curiosity bone.

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  6. Yes, we have a level of comfort most can't imagine!! Even myself! But, writing is not ez, not comfortable, for a dog...of numbers with no time. I kinda new this from the get go but w/o 4saking the coffee at de cafe.

    I feel I have to read behind your lines on this latest comfort piece.

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  7. I bet Picasso had toilet problems too.

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  8. Is being mildly gifted a little like being a little pregnant?

    dig dig ... digging around here for the lines to read between too ..
    WV=sespit

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  9. Having a gift always creates a shadow, what's difficult is not overcorrecting either way. Ambition has to figure in there somewhere and what is the antidote to that? I've read just a little bit of Wallace and I just read the New Yorker piece. I'm wondering about his wife and family...

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  10. It's a work in progress. I'll post again when I finish it, but I've learned it helps to get your input.

    I wonder too PJ. The world forgives genius many things -- including hanging oneself for the wife to find.

    And Julie, I don't think so. It's kind of like eye color. Blue won't turn to green given time.

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  11. Well it's not easy being stupid either, you know.
    V

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  12. I love you Virg. (Do we bleed wine coolers?)

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  13. OK. I'm going to be a little contrarian. I agree with Malcolm Gladwell -- it's the 10,000 hours that counts. Genius by itself gets you nowhere. Of course, doing the 10,000 hours requires something else (for the laundry, etc), and that something is a WIFE! Hence the historical predominance of male geniuses. And the women who do turn up in history tend to be either single (Jane Austen) or royalty (ELizabeth !). So there you go.

    And my word is nopodle. So nopodle to you.

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  14. I'm with Margaret on this one. That woman's a genius.

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  15. Sorry, I don't buy that. I'll go along with the work, the open the vein, but you need some real juices to come out. And the woman as victim thing, I don't like it.

    Well, I'm off to ceramics class to spill wine cooler on my tile.

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  16. Geniuses quite often are self-destructive. I'd rather be mentally stable non-genius.

    siness

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  17. V you made me laugh.

    But no one tops me! Now, at last, I am queen. Genius be damned, who cares? I have the finest, best WV ever:

    porked.

    HA!

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  18. Wine coolers? That's a wuss drink. I like my wine straight up. ( I sipped mine out of a plastic Lipton green tea bottle at that concert the other night.)
    V

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  19. I'm not talking women victims. I'm talking women busy. When you are taking care of kids, doing the laundry (which was once a week long practice, by the way), marketing, cooking, educating your children, and the 8 million other things women had to do, you don't have as much time to be Picasso. And without the time you don't have your 10,000 hours. It's simple math. So simple even I can do it. But when you have a spouse to do all your shit, you can focus. Just ask the wife of any high-powered attorney.

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  20. Yes, a moon viewing party, kukai, or contest, if you will.
    Lacking the sometimes genius of my old man, but emulating his ability
    to sell icecubes to Eskimos, I've
    taken the coward's way out-blatant
    self-promotionalism.

    You know what they say about my gig-you gotta write a hundred bad poems to obtain one that shines, at least a little.

    21, 22, 23...

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  21. Bandit, I forgot to ask, where do I pick up my prize?

    Margaret, my math is even simpler. The wife doesn't have to agree to do it.

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  22. Person who should really post on her own blog things like thisMarch 10, 2009 at 3:43 PM

    I think many artists are squashed by their own kind. People who think of themselves (or are identified by others) as gods/esses to be revered and protected, or in the other extreme as never being good enough, worthy enough to even have a dream. Do you think that in reality the highfalutin or the pitiful welp stomp around as a reaction to the removal of their own dreams?

    Is it by nature, by materialism and insecurity that sometimes bring those we trust, admire, and respect to suggest the noose?
    Are we required, by human responsibility, to instead make a conscious effort to override natural instinct, loop an arm in, around, and first do no harm?

    Helping, encouraging and inspiring someone else (really, without sabotage) to achieve their dream is a very high, noble thing especially when ones own desires have been snuffed out. But how can we give what we don't have?

    Something changed inside, a shift. I made a decision; my new dream is to support beauty from wherever or whomever it comes. Come what may. I will fly fish in the rivers of creativity to help keep it flowing smoothly even if I never catch a thing.

    It isn't easy to monitor my own inner motivations all of the time. I've let the laundry go, the kids, the husband--all down the tubes. I chose a lofty goal, a daily journey that uses all of my leftover strength, pathetic bits of self-knowledge sought after awareness to achieve what I think is very real level of comfort--the kind of warm puppy that I hope will stay.

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  23. AH: That is very true now. But it was not true in the past, when women were indeed the legal chattel of their husbands and did have to do the things their husbands asked of them. They could, of course, chose not to marry (as Miss Austen), but that could have dire consequences since you were beholden to the male relative financially responsible for you, if indeed there was such a male. If not, you could be a charwoman or a governess, but then of course you still lack the time to produce your art. Although things like quilting and cooking are certainly arts, and all people, I believe, find ways to create art -- whether it's in making a beautiful quilt, and lovely garden, a wonderful sword, or whatever craft, trade, you pursue.

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  24. I think I am being difficult, so I am going to stop now. Of course, although I do not know if your particular genius is genetic or the result of hard practice, you are definitely a genius. And I love your writing.

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  25. Not at all Margaret (in more ways than one). I love difficult, always be as difficult as you like. It's just I'm trying to think whether I have anything intelligent to say to you or to the comment two steps up. Not that that ever stopped me before.

    I'll go ride my horse and jiggle the brain a bit.

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  26. ALl this talk of blood and winecoolers, of genius wives and Petrea getting Porked. I should have checked in earlier!

    As for women getting stuck with the laundry and the kids -- read Off the Road by Carolyn Cassady to see who was making sure there was gas in the bus and food on the picnic blankets while Neal and Jack were On the Road being geniuses. ALso, Who Cooked the Last Supper is a great study of all those unsung women geniuses of history.

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  27. Back in the 70's a friend of mine bought a house. Then she got married. They moved. She sold the house - but only because her husband gave his permssion. It was a legal issue, entirely.

    Virginia, you're plenty smart. You did, after all, stop ironing your sheets.

    I wasn't going to post but my word is dishin.

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  28. Genius is in the eye of the beholder.

    dylsium (I must have a case.)

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  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  30. It's tough 2 b a gifted dog in a world where people think it's theirs. But, I could certainly use a wife or husband to as Marg writes, "do all your shit."

    Until then, I'm satisfied to have the homo sapien at least pick it up.

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  31. Camille Claudel comes to mind, but even more recently a woman who insisted on being a mad genius, perhaps boozing and not doing her own laundry, might have been considered insane, or a whore, or at least worthless. She might not have had any power to say otherwise.

    It's easy for us to say we wouldn't stand for it, from here in 2009 with our education and financial independence and equal rights that our mothers and grandmothers fought for. Much easier for us to pursue our genius potential any way we please.

    Back to the crappy WVs.

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  32. It would be interesting to hear your individual definitions of genius. Do you also have categories for gifted, for talented and for bright? Like the attorney mentioned earlier: he might just have a talent that with hard work he has turned into a career. Maybe Jack Kerouac had a talent for writing without being gifted and certainly without being a genius. I must go and find that article about Wallace in the NYer that set all this pinging off ...

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  33. I have to say, when Petrea linked to Camille Claudel my heart did a a horizontal roll. This beauty has always brought tears. Bless her soul.

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  34. I had forgotten I shared that dark sheet ironing secret. Talk about chattel! I still iron pillow cases but that's for ME! I started to make a comment about Petrea getting porked but for once erred on the side of discretion. But not for long as you can see.

    I hold firm on the wine cooler statement.
    V

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  35. Where did Petrea find the education, the financial independence, and the equal rights? Which aisle are they on?

    unject

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  36. Camille Claudel. I need to read about her . Thanks Petrea. IF you've ever seen her work at the Rodin it would bring tears to your eyes.

    And about 30 years ago I can attest that women, me for one, were still putting up with some CRAP because they couldn't or wouldn't take the terrifying leap of financial instability and the unknown. I was pushed or I sadly would probably still removing wax from the linoleum floors every month or so and ironing those %*#(*%& sheets! That reminds me. I need to send my ex husband a big fat Thank You note every year on the anniversary of our divorce.

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  37. Geez I love this blog. IT's better than paying a shrink. I"m off to bed now. I feel tons better now that I have unloaded all my mess you guys. NIght!
    V

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  38. Love you, V.

    WCGB:

    Education - Well, try this for an example: my mother was the first female in her family (ever, of any generation) who went to college. She went because she sent herself, not because anyone believed in her.

    Financial Independence - It has not always been acceptable, or even legal, for women to work outside the home. In some countries it still isn't.

    Equal Rights - Perfect? Um, no. But I have as much right as any man to produce a work of art and sell it in the marketplace. I don't have to use a male pseudonym on my works, as many women did only a generation ago, because female authors supposedly didn't sell. I work in the voice-over field, which fewer than 20 years ago was male-dominated.

    We have much more than women did only recently. It's all I'm sayin'. Not sayin' it's perfect, I'm just sayin' it's good to be able to work without fear.

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  39. 39 Comments????*

    It took me less time to read David Wallace in The New Yorker.

    No wonder my WV is so insipid - Blogger is running out of (for lack of a better word) "words."




    *(plus 1)

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  40. It's possible to work in peace with termites in your kitchen; I hear that if there's enough of them, they'll keep your house together holding hands.

    I also don't buy the idea that you have to be single to be successful at what you do. And that goes for women and men alike. I have quite a few friends (male and female) that are successful at what they creatively do and they have strong relationships on top of that. The test is in the Jell-O shooter mix, and I'm not referring to alcohol.

    Just for spite I'm going back to "IHMF Redux" (Desiree's post from Oscar Wilde.)
    "Every time a friend of mine succeeds, a part of me dies." Hiker, although you like that quote I don't, it's very immature. I'm curious when he wrote or made that remark -- truth is that when you've found your voice and feel comfortable enough with it, your friends successes are important too.

    (Letca)

    Mid-Town G

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  41. PS. I've always wondered if your fellow blogger Cafe/P/O has been spending to much time reading the novel TTUL. Cafe, you're on lie detector mode, time to spill the beans.

    Cafe/P/O, you'd have better luck reading between female lines if you'd pick up a copy of anything written by Marge Piercy, one of my favorite contemporary writers. May I suggest "Woman on the edge of time" ?

    Word: propals

    Mid-Town G

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  42. Whew. I had the craziest dream, obviously based on all the twists and turns in these comments. At one point two of you walk in with drinks and toast each other as I'm getting a backrub in a hotel lobby by the president of an insurance company who is going to be my new boss.

    I've got nothing to add. Well, yes I do, because I'm still working on this piece, trying to get more clarity. But I do know genius, like charm, must be written around and not at.

    Midtown, Desiree was kidding, and it's Gore Vidal who said it. (Although I suppose there is a germ of immature truth there, somehow related to comments of Person Who Should Post On Her Own Blog.)

    K, you hate being first, you glysiver you.

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  43. she'll explain process 11 minutes into the interview.
    Zaha Hadid
    she lives
    she speaks
    she works hard

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  44. Where's the anonymous midtown g's blog or website?

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  45. I haven't read this yet but it must be good - 45 comments so far (but I'm not impressed by numbers, am I?)
    I'm still on the "aiming too high" post. Going home now - will be back later. (Oh, sorry, this isn't Facebk.)

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  46. Oh, and apart from lack of genius;
    common-sense can be key, as in don't write and post before dawn without at least a good week's sleep under your belt. Better to wait until rested-at least have some sort of editing mode available.

    I heard of that Fitzgerald fella.
    Some drunk who lived on Grand Avenue (note the street name)
    who the local muckey-mucks named a theater after that I only attended
    when it was a movie house to see such epics as 'Vanishing Point'
    and "Billy Jack' while counting the rats running across the floor.
    Some pompous jerk named Keillor
    lolly-gags there now. But I'm running on again...
    I live on the East Side...man, you should see the sky now.

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  47. That was a helluva piece by the way.

    "Vanesque" even, to coin a phrase.

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  48. I just logged in to see Karin's sidebar promotion of the bloggers' picnic and encounter a dizzy stream of 48 comments.

    Genius is lovely but a bit overrated. I'm a firm believer in those 10,000 hours. That and a little luck.

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  49. To hell with genius. Doesn't anybody fly by the seat of their pants anymore? KB, can we have some snark next???

    PS I think I'm so dense, I can't make anything cute or clever out of my WV. As a matter of fact, I had to go back and read all this to see what Kevin meant when he said WV! For the love. I 'm too old, I can't keep up. Ya'll just bear with me.

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  50. Jeez honey, I'll go hunting for snark, and if snark can be found, snark will be served. (The pressure, I've never had an actual request before.)

    WV: pones. What if all I find are pones?

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  51. You gotta hit 60, KB.
    Here's adding another on the old blogger..

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  52. Virginia, are you kiddin? Who can keep up with you? You've got more personality than a whole store full of stilettos and sassy shop girls with cigarette holders.

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  53. & 1 more thing, kb, on de picnic: you're NOT cooking? What bout baking?? Sumthing from your garden? Or, at least bringing-in some take-out?

    I gotta think 4 a sec what I'm gonna bring...appetizers? Naaaahh!
    I'll try to bring good weather!

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  54. Am I being asked to stop posting because I don't have any intention of having a blog? If I am, I know where the door is that I came in, and I remember how to leave. In the event that that is the case, I'll leave you with some final words that I couldn't find the last time I posted because I couldn't remember the name of the following poem:

    For the young who want to Marge Piercy

    http://judithpordon.tripod.com/poetry/marge_piercy_for_the_young.html

    Mid-Town G

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  55. Oops, something happened on my way out, the door had a broken link.

    For the young who want to

    Marge Piercy

    http://judithpordon.tripod.com/poetry/marge_piercy_for_the_young.html

    Mid-Town G

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  56. One more try and I give up.

    http://www.margepiercy.com/sampling/poems-from-moon-female.htm

    Mid-Town

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  57. Thanks, mt & mt-g, in your trying efforts to making 60! Sounds like y'alll don't have or wanna blog, when it sounds like you should have one, which sounds like you have sumthing to say. But, I guess it sounds like I was wrong, again.
    Don't read 2 much n2 my comments, bcuz they're featherweight in comparison to the commenting that goes back & 4th in the blogosphere!

    Say, Hi!, to PA 4 me.

    Now, I gotta go, gotta sleep, so TTUL !

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  58. That is a long article that Wallace thing. Can I admit/confess to never having heard of the chap.

    He coulda bin a genius - does a genius have to be smart? I suspect he was just an ordinary codger who wrote. And now he's offed hisself so he's a genius.

    Is a genius a boy behaving badly?

    WV=hymng

    Are ya at sixty yet?

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  59. PONES? OMG, I have them on my hips. Well that's what we call em down here. And Petrea, I bought some trés sassy red patent wedge shoes yesterday. Whoooeeee.
    Bring on the snark KB, this crowd has gotten way too serious.
    V
    PS And that's 60!!!

    chosess ???

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  60. Midtown, I like her. I'll read more.

    Julie, maybe. But the only way to decide is to read his book (or a part of it, if indeed you don't like it). I'd be very curious to hear your opinion.

    Virg, a promise is a promise.

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  61. Corn pone? Or getting poned? Cast iron is involved, not exceptions. Virginia, I expect to see your red patent feets on your blog - and maybe a Dorothy dress to go with it. Kittykens can stand in for Toto in your basket.

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  62. I'm back to help my friend Mid-Town-G connect up his link.
    Marge Piercy

    It has some great lines such as "why aren't you pregnant?" A line no longer asked of me

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  63. Thanks, PA, for coming to help your friend, KB, go for 70! No explanation needed.

    Why stop now??!!

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  64. Who am I to abandon a bandwagon?

    Why xessl, I'll join.

    PS I still owe you $5 from the Aussie Open. Are you going out to Indian Wells? I'll be there next week.

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  65. What's with all this WV stuff??
    Virginia, what's going on in West Virginia?

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  66. CP, Well don't laugh but that was my first guess but it didn't make much sense so I did a little research of ALL these comments. THis is one verbose crowd of blogging fools!

    68 now but who's counting for Pete's sake!

    Hey my WV is MAKING> The first one I've had that made sense.

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  67. now the nasty number no one wanted to touch ~~ Ha!

    WV Winecl (not kidding)

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  68. It's on your head, 'cause it ain't staying here.

    Inthi (sometimes WV gods are so naughty)

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  69. This is the coolest string of comments. And my word is bathhuzzy!

    I AM a bathhuzzy!

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