RE: RARA-AVIS: Murderous geniuses

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 08 Apr 2004

At 02:28 PM 06/04/2004 -0700, you wrote:

>However, saying that Newton, Mozart, Beethoven, Bartok or
>Art Tatum was a genius is not to say any of those things.
>The question of institutionalization, credentialism,
>condemning people to failure by measuring and ranking, and
>other socially created ills should be treated separately
>from inordinate capability. Individual genius does exist.

So do we agree that predicting genius (or measuring it, as Miker says) is largely bogus? I think that implies that describing it would be somewhat difficult too. Your one word answer (Beethoven) credits individual accomplishment, in hindsight. That's cool, though clearly there is a strong element of social acceptance here too, even if that requires long periods of time. We don't apply the label "genius" to someone whose similar leaps of intellect are now forgotten, or uncorroborated.

Anyway, my original point was that I think hardboil, and more probably noir, would be inclined to question such labels. Psychological mysteries may indulge in criminal geniuses and the even smarter folks who catch them, but noir is more likely to reveal and call into question the use of categorization and rank to sustain power systems.

Or maybe I'm just imposing my own values on the genre. But why not? As we've already discussed, genre is another form of categorization that can be defined to promote a particular point of view, and determine the rank of anyone who holds it.


------------------------------------------------------ Literary events Calendar (South Ont.) The evil men do lives after them

# Plain ASCII text only, please.  Anything else won't show up.
# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 08 Apr 2004 EDT