Friday, March 04, 2016

The Future of Genius

Do you like Roland Barthes? Me, I'm a big fan, especially of his elegant little essay "The Death of the Author," which I'm happy to confess was something of an inspiration for an essay of mine called "The Future of Genius," just now published by B O D Y and up on their site.  Here are the sentences the editors chose to highlight, which give a good idea of what it's all about.

To understand the possible death of the genius we need first to go back to the circumstances of his birth. 
Geniuses like Freud and Marx have a fecund posterity, inspiring not only imitators but the original genius of others.
Along with its inborn quality, its rule-breaking, and its inspiring of future originality, genius has another element: autonomy vis-a-vis the needs of its immediate audience.
Why, we may ask, was our particular notion of the genius born in the eighteenth century, and why didn’t it die there?
The very notion of copyright was invented with reference to the idea of a genius’ unique style making his writings more than a mere restatement of commonly known facts.
The important thing to remember, when asking about the future of genius, is that the authority of genius is charismatic: it derives from an individual’s exemplary status, his or her ethos, rather than any external force.
The literary genius may be languishing among the academics, but he still breathes in non-institutional contexts.
The essay also has a thing or two to say about Chuck Taylor sneakers and Warby Parker glasses.