May 24, 2009

DIY Guide to Genius

Or Stand Tall, Poppies

Are you a smart cookie seeking hope? Or a dopey drawers looking for a clue?

This may help…

Dinky DIYs Guide to Genius

Blow off school. This is step one to achieving genius. Do not matriculate, this could completely spoil your plans of genius. Einstein flunked high school, Bill Gates dropped out of uni, chess freak Bobby Fisher didn`t graduate but they are all pretty fondly remembered for being sharp. Thomas Edison barely made it out of kindy and Winston Chuchill ended up in a secondary military school but only after trying at the entrance exam three times. Bit of a bummer if you already went through the whole shebang. Prepare yourself for medoicrity?

Get nuts. Blessed are the cracked for they shall let in the light.

You know how they say you can be too smart for your own good, well there is some suggestion that geniuses are more likely to be loony tunes than your average Joe Blow. Many were swinging on a bipolar pendulum others were hearing voices, some were a little OCD (or a lot). Pythagoras started out cool but then possibly went a bit… obtuse. He founded his own religion and believed beans were evil. Scholar Samuel Johnson was plagued with unsettling ticks we now know to be tourettes syndrome and was gloomily suicidal. Kafka and Proust were both hypochondriacs.

Neglect personal hygiene. Michaelangelo was definitely smarter than the average bear but he was also a filthy grot with no personal regard for his body odour or cleanliness. You`ve seen the frizzled state of Einstein`s hair, he could use a good honey oats treatment and he used to pick up used butts of the street to smoke the tobacco. Celebrated inventor Nikola Tesla (who was vioently repulsed by pearls) was obsessed with pigeons to the point where he would wander around Central Park covered in the birds and their poop. Fortunately he remained celibate because he thought it helped his science.

Be Male…. Ok ok ok, not so! But one does find a rather alarming tiltage in the literature towards blokes. This is, naturally, because women have a better grasp on modesty and reserve. But if you want to blow the booby trumpet look no further than the Brontes, in particular Charlotte the grand dame of chick lit and passionate child hater. Otherwise try ol` Hypatia of Alexandria (feminist icon from roman antiquity, she was mathematical, philosophical and a bit of a stir, the latter possibly causing her murder by a mob) or the aptly named Marilyn vos Savant.

Suicide outta here! Van Gough started by cutting off an ear and sculling glasses of turps only to finish checking himself out with a bullet to the chest. Empedocles did it, but he didn`t really mean to. So conviced was he that he was godlike, he hurtled himself into Mount Etna with a band of witnesses who he had promised to return to in moments. Needless to say, all they got back was a clever smelling puff of smoke.

Be a patient corpse. Real genius comes to those who wait... a loooong time. Most accepted geniuses achieve the coveted status well after they have died young, sick and impoverished.

Then again, it may all be overrated. As Stephen Hawking put it, "People who boast about their IQ are losers."


In Aussieland we have Tall Poppy Syndrome which is a particularly ungenerous aspect of the Australian collective pysche where we like to cut down those folk who rise above the rest... like a poppy gone all gangly and out of control.

In Germany, where I am bunkered down this week, they have Schadenfreunde (Schaden: damage, harm; Freude: joy) a distantly related local concept where the Germans take great delight in the misfortunes of others.

We like to keep the bastards down, our German friends like to see them fall over. Which would you prefer?

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