What separates a merely great artist from a genius?
The question is oft asked and answered. My own impulsive muse on it today was stirred by the usual frustrations of doing art alongside science. (See the previous post “The Lost Paragraphs Mystery“.)
So here’s my penny thought: The great artists among us have no true love, or are missing a wonderful wise lover from their life. They have a void which begs to be filled, aches for enrichment, and they can find no succour, save in their art.
Yes, apologies, I’m going to be both didactic and a tad polemic on this.
The genius artists among us have a devoted desired lover who in turn desires the artist. They are the sort of completed personality who is so happy they are boring to study for most ambitious psychologists.
Why would such love be the discriminator between greatness and genius then?
The great artist has endless time to devote to their art, this is obvious. They have no great lover in their life. So their art is their love. It occupies their attention. It even tortures them since it is a mute lover, a difficult affair, an obsession they cannot give up and yet cannot find human comfort from within, not in the way a really wise and friendly human soul can promise.
I used to think it was a cliché that great artists had to “suffer in order to become great”. But now I see a wider, healthier, stauncher grain of truth to this, almost raising it to the level of truism.
Firstly, you have to know (for a fact?) that most Nobel Prize winners are not lucky. They work damn hard, diligently, selflessly, in pursuit of … what? … noble goals? hahaha.
Seriously now. There might be one Nobel Prize awarded in the entire history of the ceremony that was gained by being struck by almighty luck. Pasteur’s accident which led to the discovery of penicillin was not even an instance of luck. Pasteur had to work his guts out to study the germ cultures, and he made the mistake of contaminating the petri dish (apocryphal? I’m not sure, just saying what I’ve heard) only because he was doing enough experiments to make the mistake. You see, we can tell this part is high in truth-value because Pasteur noticed the mistake and was assiduous and curious enough to worry about it and to notice the killing off of the germ culture. So dude! He was the archetypal prepared mind dans l’extrême.
Although I’m biased by the thoughts of romantic love, and it’s claim on the human soul, it’s power when vainly sought, it’s riveting impulse and transcendence when found, it’s hurly roar of wind-sweeping affection and desire when in full living force, that’s all I admit for now. The rest of me concurs with the speculations in this blog entry.
The final speculation is that if an artist manages to stay true to their art, and produce works of greatness (in whatever field, and I include science and mathematics as art, as much as music, fine arts, poetry, writing, diplomacy, teaching, gardening, or what ever you consider your art to be) and simultaneously fall in deep romantic love with an incredible, other, real life, wickedly gorgeous, and sublime life-long partner, then this artist is a genius.
Why? For the simple reason they have found an exquisite human lover, a soul-touching endearing partner in sensual communion, their conscious sweetness of the higher heavens, and yet still find time to produce great art! Such a person, whether young or old, whether crippled or in their prime, whether rich or poor, is a genius in my view.
Happy the soul who’s lover is their art. Make your soul mate your art. Let them be your authentic desire, your reality, your crimson passion. There is my pennies worth of advice for today my darling Kezia and Sylvie.