Anger Against the Corrupted Genius

There's a certain 'Death of the Dream' feeling that coincides with discovering that the people you've idolized have really lost it. When Weezer's Green album finally came out after years of having to live off of only the 2 pure genius weezer albums that existed, we all listened to it and for a moment or two tried to pretend that it was as good as the real thing; sorta like when we wake up from a hot sex-dream right before paydirt and try to will ourselves back to sleep. Face it man, it's gone. Sometimes you have to separate the art from the artist. George Lucas went back and made greedo shoot first, and then made three prequels with characters so unbearable that we all went, "has he lost his mind entirely?" Well the truth of the matter that we have to remember is... he always was insane. He just got lucky the first time. Thousands of crazies fling crap around all the time. A rare few of them have their crap stick to the wall in the shape of the virgin Mary while just enough people are looking for everyone to be like, "Yes!, Oh yes..."

The whole point of being a genius is that you change things; you do something unique that looks or sounds so good that it makes people's synapses hurt just from the pressure of it, and then after the third waning recreation of it, people go, "eh, now it's more of the same just not as good"... OR they'll try to recreate themselves again, but their genius isn't really likely to come with them. So whatever new thing they're trying is just going to come off as commonplace. Nobody's a genius at EVERYTHING.

I'm trying to think of exceptions to these rules, and really the only one I can think of is Pink Floyd, which had at the very least unanimously agreed upon 10 years and 5 albums of groundbreaking, life-altering, multi-generational ass-smacking genius; or if you consult genius-obsessed fanatics like myself, 25 years and a dozen albums of the same...

So what gives? Are a decade of the Floyd and an occasional Mozart, Beatles, Tarantino and Colbert all we're gonna get as far as reliable careerlong genius? Maybe our problem (and by 'our', I mean the only group of people who gets their panties in a knot when someone's new film or album isn't half the quality of their old stuff-- Slackers..) is that we enjoy things too much. We let the arts and entertainment move us on levels that wouldn't be considered healthy by the psychiatric community. The sad truth of the matter, is that genius is just like anything else. It's the truest tragedy of life itself. The downside to loving things on this planet is that we can (and eventually will) lose everything on this planet. And the genius of our idols is certainly no exception. That's why eastern philosophy tells us that the key to happiness is to remove our desires. If we don't want anything, then we won't be upset when we lose anything. We'll be happy all the time, in a manner of speaking. So from a certain point of view, we slackers are unevolved and very anti-intellectual, since we fill our hearts with the drama of other people's artistic achievements. We all love Radiohead, but the extra-stark truth that there's never going to be another OK Computer stabs us each and every year, new album or not. So when their latest album came out, we tried to give it a fair shot, but a small and very selfish part of us felt betrayed because Radiohead did what any number of artists we idolize do all the time: they raped our innocence. To quote Gram Bel Fisher, "Music was invented to enjoy this world... and escape to others.." Well the reason we love escaping to other worlds is because we're essentially childlike (at least those of us that love music and movies). We're childlike, and we like living in fantasy worlds of all kinds. We especially love living in fantasy worlds in which people we have come to love soar to new heights of genius all the time. But every time a new Kevin Smith movie comes out or the new Weezer song comes on the radio, it's like (to quote Brian Posehn) 'having your favorite uncle inappropriately touch you'.

So what's the moral of all this? Well since I know nobody who reads this blog is going to give up all-together on their genius-seeking personality... All you can do is what I hope you all already do; spread your search for genius out amongst a wide ocean floor of possibilities. It's especially important (and hard for the stubborn amongst us who think we have it all figured out) to look for genius in places you may be preconceived to expect mediocrity from. Because just as our heros can't be genii forever, it's similarly unlikely for successful industry individuals to produce mediocrity every single time for the rest of their life. Most importantly, it's key to try to enjoy some things even though they aren't your favorites. It's not a party if it happens every night, so when I eat quizno's every day, and the new sub they're marketing tastes somewhat uninspired, it's important to eat some meals at pizza hut or a college campus once in a while to see if they've gotten their act together at all, and if not, to offer a contrast for what I really liked about quizno's to begin with.

And most-most importantly? Be thankful for what you have. I know it's a bit puritan, but there are some cold-cold worlds where nobody does anything good ever. And for the time being, you don't live on any of those worlds. You live on a world where lots of people to lots of good things, and once in a while one or two people do abseloutely perfect things. Cherish it like a flash-frozen wedding day, as you continue to arrest the best.

13 comments:

j. leo said...

No, good doctor, you're right. I used to get bummed out about the decline of artists, but let's face it, almost everyone loses it at some point. It's just nearly impossible for someone to sustain that level of greatness for many years. Things happen, you get complacent, and it's much harder to repeat greatness than to break out with something great in the first place. So let us enjoy brief success where it comes, and it will always come from soem new place, and respect those who came before for what they did.

For example, I was initially dismayed by the absolving of Phish and Trey's lackluster solo material, for this is a man I once cared more about than Jesus. But now, I realize that it doesn't have to tarnish his legend. I can still marvel in the fact that he wrote You Enjoy Myself when he was only 20 years old, which is pretty mindblowing when you think how complicated that song is. Nothign can take away the fact that he made great music for nearly 20 years and enchanted millions.

Richard Kelly will likely never make another film like Darko. The Secret Machines may not turn out anotehr album like their first. And it's ok. We shouldn't think of them like flash in the pans. We shoudl marvel that they acheived genius. And just that. They had that moment. Let us remember it fondly.

Paul Tsikitas said...

The old saying "it's better to burn out than fade away. is what you are living by here. Artists like Jimi Hendrix, John Kennedy Toole (author of Confederacy of Dunces) or even a series like Arrested Development never had the chance to suck. Like the Beck Song "Satan Was Way Cool" : And when rock and roll music was getting old, he gave them their best career move-- Death."

For me, I love genius. Hartley, PT Anderson, Beck, what have you. But if they staid geniuses, what challenge would they have to keep making art? If they produced the perfect movie/album/novel/painting, why should they keep going? The beauty of genius is in their flaws. When you can see a masterpiece and see it's flaws at the same time (because nothing is perfect) it's even more beautiful because it brings that artist to our level. Then maybe we can try and produce something that, in the long run will pale in comparison, but can still be a great acheivment personally.

That's the beauty of art.

Paul Tsikitas said...

Addendum:

I've been to the Met this year and have seen many uninspiring paintings by artists like Piccasso and Dali. It's funny to think about, but yeah, no ones perfect. But thank GOD they schelped on and made mediocre things because if they didn't keep trying, they wouldn't create anything great.

NICKEL said...

Well Jesus likes Phish more than you, Justin.

j. leo said...

......


zing.

(she loves it when i express sacrilege, especailly in name of slacker bands)

Paul Tsikitas said...

Jesus Phish!!!!

Dr. Ryan P. Carey, D.D.S. said...

Loaves and Phishes?

j. leo said...

Oh man!!! that's so gonna be the name of my Phish cover band.



...You know, once I learn how to play an instrument.


And sing....

decently.

Face of Spades said...

Who's in the jeep, Justin?

j. leo said...

HAHHHAHHAHAHAH YES!!!!

oh man, did danno or i ever introduce that to this group? if not, we need to..

GROVER CLEVELAND WAS A DEMOCRAT!!! GROVER CLEVELAND WAS A DEMOCRAT!!! HARHAENHREHYREHREHREYRYERHEHR!!!!!!!!!!!


(classic)

Dr. Ryan P. Carey, D.D.S. said...

huh?

j. leo said...

ask danno

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