Tricky Business, Being a Genius!


Just to be clear: we do not speak of myself. The dilema: am I, Danu,  a genius or am I not, will be debated in 50-100 years from now. If ever…
What I want to debate, instead, is if the citation from Carl Jung I’ve translated for you from French (and which somebody translated from his native Swiss German to French…) is close to truth…

Carl Jung is kind of a genius in himself, a psychologist and philosopher that made Freud look puny. I cannot say much more in a 2 bits essay but here is is, his famous citation, speaking of genius and vital energy :
“The creative spark of  genius is to be dearly payed by the creator who gets it. Everything happens as if each being is born with a limited capital of vital energy (n.a. It seems that we are also born with a limited quantity of enzymes! I don’t know if enzymes qualifies as  vital energy …but it’s an interesting coincidence) . What dominates, at the artist, is his  creative propensity, and, if he is a true artist, this propensity will take the most massive chunk of his energy; so that there isn’t much left for anything else. (…) the human side loses so much “blood” for the benefit of the creative side that he cannot do anything else but stay at a primitive or, at best, mediocre level. Often, creative geniuses are childish, light headed and irresponsible, plagued by a naif and intransigent selfishness (that some call auto-eroticism), by ridiculous vanity and other quirks and quarks. All these inferiorities gain a sense only if we consider that’s the unique way for the creative person to channel enough energy toward his creative side, the Self. This one needs all these inferior (n.a. and, we would say today, energy efficient) forms of behavior without which the creative person would find himself totally depleted of energy.
The genius qualities are the most splendid but also the most dangerous fruits of the tree of humanity. They are on frail branches very easy to broke. “
Carl Jung on “The creative genius is to be dearly payed” (le génie créateur se paie chèrement”)
Examples of such creative geniuses are quite easy to find. Picasso is one. A creative genius of mythological proportions, he also was a coward, egomaniac, insensitive, egotistical and extremely vanitous person. (To document this one  just have to read “Picasso, createur et destructeur” by Arianna Stassinopoulos-Huffington, a splendid book, a lot more passionate than the best thriller on New York Times best seller list). Suffice to say that, in his last few years of life, he refused to see his family, children and grandchildren and grand grandchildren for the flimsy but probably REAL reason that, seeing his children and grandchildren grown old, he would see how OLD (and how close to death) was himself.

Emulating Picasso

Cézanne, also famous for his  very poor social skills and for his misanthropy (it was him who said to the one and only “gentleman” of the impressionists, le grand bourgeois Eduard Manet, ” Sorry, Mister Manet, Sir, but I don’t shake hands with you, I didn’t wash in 2 weeks!”) is another easy example for this kind of genius.
I will close with a free translation of a famous word of his. Asked by a young painter (Emile Bernard, was it?) what should a young, aspiring artist do, he, Cézanne (a man with very poor social skill and always afraid that some broad – mother, sister and then wife already doing just that – “gets her claws on him”!) said:
“Work hard, make progress in one’s art, without giving a damn about anybody!” (“Travailler fort et faire des progres, sans se doucier de personne, c.est ça le dévoir de l’artiste. Le reste ne vaut même pas le môt de Cambrone!”)

 

Not easy to be a genius’s wife, mistress, daughter (or son) or even a friend.

Art is a very exigent mistress, said somebody but you can torture me and I cannot tell who that was… I don’t have enough vital energy left, it seems…

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