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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

I’m In Danger Of Gettin’ Fatigue

de fixer les objets longtemps sans etre fatigue (from 2008)


You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I think it’s hilarious that if you want to swap a battery out of an Apple product, you walk up to a counter called a “Genius Bar” in one of their stores. Apparently the Fuhrer of Lake Wobegon has gotten his enabling act, and has annexed the whole United States now. I don’t have an opinion one way or another on the gaudy overpriced stuff they sell; but I’m not sure I could stand to be patronized in that fashion and keep a straight face. “Who’s the genius — you, or me? Both of us, of course!” I worked for many years with my younger brother, who is possessed of a sardonic wit. Whenever he was presented with any extravagant claim of the usefulness or value of any item, he’d pause for effect and say: “Yes, but is it premium?”

In politics, the word genius gets used quite a bit, but I notice that what the word they really mean to use is shameless. I really don’t know why they keep getting those two mixed up. The last two political geniuses I can think of are Hitler and Churchill. Thank god we got both at the same time. Other than that, for 75 years it’s been all workmanlike or incompetent; take your pick.

I’ve known my share of people equipped with plenty of raw intellectual horsepower. It mostly manifests itself on one side of the ledger, of course: words or numbers. Tremendous intellectual capacity at one thing is almost always accompanied by a loopy worldview and disastrous omissions in other parts of the intellect or personality. It’s always amusing to see people with an IQ of 110 point out that since they have the same personality failings as Einstein or Feynman, they must be geniuses. Sure. Just take drugs and throw up on yourself. That will make you Hendrix, too.

Napoleon described it as: de fixer les objets longtemps sans etre fatigue. The ability to concentrate on objectives for long periods without tiring. Of course, many people think that because they hit Refresh four hundred times on an Elvis figurine auction on E-bay that that must apply to them. Sorry, no.

There is a kind of stubborness in any genius, of course, but any fool can be stubborn. You can’t win fights solely by taking a beating. To couple insight with intelligence to see around a corner and identify things that are obscure to others — that is genius. It’s exceedingly rare, it seems, though many claim to see it everywhere, including while shaving. Any genius in a public school would be drugged to a stupor now, anyway. Perhaps it’s a waste of time to talk of them any more.

Churchill was described as having “a zigzag streak of lightning in the brain.” There, that’s it. Trust me; you don’t have it.

7 Responses

  1. I have known some geniuses. I'm with Philip. It is a burden I can live without.

    And, for you wags out there, yeah, I am in no danger of ever shouldering that burden.

  2. Man, did I go kicking and screaming from that label they gave me as a child; I thought I was one one – hell, I thought we all were one. My goal these days is functional. Some days I come close.

  3. Napoleon had a contemporary who was a genius: Clausewitz. In addition to mental stamina, he added "coup d'oeil" and resolution. Excuse the French. He meant having enough mental light to act in a fog and have the outcome be precisely correct. Resolution is a one time act of moral courage.

    I had a cousin who fired his Cobra attack helicopter's guns into a cloud covered hillside in Vietnam. The grunts were screaming bloody murder, and our hero had to chance the shot to eliminate some bad guys, but he couldn't be sure of the shots. He knew what the ground guys were saying about the locations, and he knew they said they were dead without the support.

    He chose rightly. That was a genius move. BTW, my cousin later went on to teach shop at the high school.

    Also, I feel that "genius" should be graded on a bell curve. Only the top .1% need be considered.

    If you are surrounded by people who are dumber than you, you are not a genius. A genius will surround himself with smarter people.

    Churchill may have made many errors, but I agree that he was the outstanding leader of WW II.

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