QUOTATIONS ON GENIUS
Great men grow tired of contentedness.
Great men are meteors that burn so that the earth may be lighted.
Men of genius are often dull and inert in society; as the blazing meteor, when it descends to earth, is only a stone.
Every great action is extreme.
Duc de La Rochefoucauld
However brilliant an action may be, it should not be accounted great when it is not the result of great purpose.
Duc de La Rochefoucauld
There are two kinds of geniuses. The characteristic of the one is roaring, but the lightning is meagre and rarely strikes; the other kind is characterized by reflection by which it constrains itself or restrains the roaring. But the lightning is all the more intense; with the speed and sureness of lightning it hits the selected particular points - and is fatal.
The case with most men is that they go out into life with one or another accidental characteristic of personality of which they say: Well, this is the way I am. I cannot do otherwise. Then the world gets to work on them and thus the majority of men are ground into conformity. In each generation a small part cling to their "I cannot do otherwise" and lose their minds. Finally there are a very few in each generation who in spite of all life's terrors cling with more and more inwardness to this "I cannot do otherwise". They are the geniuses. Their "I cannot do otherwise" is an infinite thought, for if one were to cling firmly to a finite thought, he would lose his mind.
Where is the lightning to lick you with its tongue? Where is the madness with which you should be cleansed? Behold, I show you the Superman. He is this lightning, he is this madness.
Nietzsche (in Zarathustra)
Geniuses are like thunderstorms. They go against the wind, terrify people, cleanse the air.
A genius is one who can do anything except make a living.
Genius is born, not paid.
I swear to you, sirs, that excessive consciousness is a disease — a genuine, absolute disease. For everyday human existence it would more than suffice to have the ordinary share of human consciousness; that is to say, one half, one quarter that that which falls to the lot of a cultivated man in our wretched nineteenth century [...] It would, for instance, be quite enough to have the amount of consciousness by which all the so-called simple, direct people and men of action live.
Genius borrows nobly.
Great geniuses have the shortest biographies. Their cousins can tell you nothing about them.
Talent, lying in the understanding, is often inherited; genius, being the action of reason or imagination, rarely or never.
Samuel T. Coleridge
Genius is not so much about new ideas as it is about clarity of ideas. Two people can have the same idea yet it will be genius in the one and mediocrity in the other.
It has been seen that the object of a sane upbringing is increasingly to direct all emotion towards objects which involve other people. Now basically the situation of being finite is an infinitely frustrating one, which would be expected to arouse sensations of desperation and aggression - as indeed it may sometimes be seen to do in very young children. I am aware that I must be careful, in using the word aggression, to state that I do not mean aggression directed towards people. What I mean is an impersonal drive directed against reality - it is difficult to give examples but it may be presumed that geniuses who are at all worthy of the name preserve a small degree of this. However, since all emotion must be directed towards people, it is obvious that the only form of aggression which a sane person can understand is aggression against people, which is probably better described as sadism or cruelty.
I was a man who stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age...The gods had given me almost everything. I had genius, a distinguished name, high social position, brilliancy, intellectual daring; I made art a philosophy, and philosophy an art: I altered the minds of men and the colour of things: there was nothing I said or did that did not make people wonder...I treated Art as the supreme reality, and life as a mere mode of fiction: I awoke the imagination of my century so that it created myth and legend around me: I summed up all systems in a phrase, and all existence in an epigram.
Oscar Wilde, in De Profundis
Genius is the ability to act rightly without precedent - the power to do the right thing the first time.
Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them.
To see things in the seed, that is genius.
The ability of someone to choose and arrange the details of their creative field guided by a vision is a major hallmark of a genius.
Philosophy becomes poetry and science imagination, in the enthusiasm of genius.
Both wit and understanding are trifles without integrity. The ignorant peasant without fault is greater than the philosopher with many. What is genius or courage without a heart?
A man of genius is unbearable, unless he possesses at least two things besides: gratitude and purity.
Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.
Wolfgang A. Mozart
Genius is present in every age, but the men carrying it within them remain benumbed unless extraordinary events occur to heat up and melt the mass so that it flows forth.
The first and last thing required of genius is the love of truth.
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
The poets' scrolls will outlive the monuments of stone. Genius survives; all else is claimed by death.
Next to possessing genius one's self is the power of appreciating it in others.
Two sorts of writers possess genius: those who think, and those who cause others to think.
In every work of genius, we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.
The reason we have so few geniuses is that people do not have faith in what they know to be true.
Genius does what it must, and Talent does what it can.
Owen Meredith Earl of Lytton
Andy Warhol is the only genius with an IQ of 60.
I have nothing to declare except my genius.
Oscar Wilde's response to an American customs official
Genius is an infinite capacity for giving pains.
Genius learns from nature, its own nature. Talent learns from art.
- to believe your own thought. To believe that what is true for you is ultimately true.
- a sledgehammer.
- the fruit of labour and thought.
- the ability to see the obvious.
- the ability to put into effect what is in your mind.
- something one can become.
Great genius takes shape by contact with another great genius, but, less by assimilation than by friction.
At the bidding of a Peter the Hermit millions of men hurled themselves against the East; the words of an hallucinated enthusiast such as Mahomet created a force capable of triumphing over the Graeco-Roman world; an obscure monk like Luther bathed Europe in blood. The voice of a Galileo or a Newton will never have the least echo among the masses. The inventors of genius hasten the march of civilization. The fanatics and the hallucinated create history.
Gustave Le Bon
Great minds are related to the brief span of time during which they live as great buildings are to a little square in which they stand: you cannot see them in all their magnitude because you are standing too close to them.
A man of genius makes no mistakes . His Errors are the portals of discovery.
There is in every madman a misunderstood genius whose idea, shining in his head, frightened people, and for whom delirium was the only solution to the strangulation that life had prepared for him.
Antonin Artaud, of Van Gogh
Oh! how near are genius and madness! Men imprison them and chain them, or raise statues to them.
There was never a genius without a tincture of madness.
It is frequently the tragedy of the great artist, as it is of the great scientist, that he frightens the ordinary man. If he is more than a popular story-teller it may take humanity a generation to absorb and grow accustomed to the new geography with which the scientist or artist presents us. Even then, perhaps only the more imaginative and literate may accept him. Subconsciously the genius is feared as an image breaker; frequently he does not accept the opinions of the mass, or man's opinion of himself.
Loren Eiseley, in "The Mind as Nature"
Genius . . . is the capacity to see ten things where the ordinary man sees one.
Genius not only diagnoses the situation but supplies the answers.
It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.
The true genius is a mind of large general powers, accidentally determined to some particular direction.
Coffee is good for talent, but genius wants prayer.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The man of genius does not steal, he conquers.
The principal mark of a genius is not perfection but originality, the opening of new frontiers
Talent warms-up the given (as they say in cookery) and makes it apparent; genius brings something new. But our time lets talent pass for genius. They want to abolish the genius, deify the genius, and let talent forge ahead.
It is through woman that ideality is born into the world and - what were man without her! There is many a man who has become a genius through a woman, many a one a hero, many a one a poet, many a one even a saint; but he did not become a genius through the woman he married, for through her he only became a privy councillor; he did not become a hero through the woman he married, for through her he only became a general; he did not become a poet through the woman he married, for through her he only became a father; he did not become a saint through the woman he married, for he did not marry, and would have married but one - the one whom he did not marry; just as the others became a genius, became a hero, became a poet through the help of the woman they did not marry.
Women, in general, are not attracted to art at all, nor knowledge, and not at all to genius.
Male conspiracy cannot explain all female failures. I am convinced that, even without restrictions, there still would have been no female Pascal, Milton, or Kant. Genius is not checked by social obstacles: it will overcome.
Camille Paglia, in Sexual Personae
There are no female geniuses because there are no female Jack-the-Rippers.
Women of genius commonly have masculine faces, figures and manners. In transplanting brains to an alien soil God leaves a little of the original earth clinging to the roots.
Sporadic great men come everywhere. But for a community to get vibrating through and through with intensely active life, many geniuses coming together and in rapid succession are required. This is why great epochs are so rare, - why the sudden bloom of a Greece, an early Rome, a Renaissance, is such a mystery. Blow must follow blow so fast that no cooling can occur in the intervals. Then the mass of the nation glows incandescent, and may continue to glow by pure inertia long after the originators of its internal movement have passed away. We often hear surprise expressed that in these high tides of human affairs not only the people should be filled with stronger life, but that individual geniuses should seem so exceptionally abundant. This mystery is just about as deep as the time-honored conundrum as to why great rivers flow by great t owns. It is true that great public fermentations awaken and adopt many geniuses who in more torpid times would have had no chance to work. But over and above this there must be an exceptional concourse of genius about a time, to make the fermentation begin at all. The unlikeliness of the concourse is far greater than the unlikeliness of any particular genius; hence the rarity of these periods and the exceptional aspect which they always wear.
A genius is the man in whom you are least likely to find the power of attending to anything insipid or distasteful in itself. He breaks his engagements, leaves his letters unanswered, neglects his family duties incorrigibly, because he is powerless to turn his attention down and back from those more interesting trains of imagery with which his genius constantly occupies his mind.
Genius always gives its best at first, prudence at last.
Persons of genius, and those who are most capable of art, are always most fond of nature: as such are chiefly sensible, that all art consists in the imitation and study of nature.
It is not the strengths, but the durations of great sentiments that make great men.
Genius is nothing but continued attention.
Claude Adrien Helvetius
It is easy to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who, in the midst of the crowd, keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
I call that mind free which protects itself against the usurpations of society, which does not cower to human opinion, which feels itself accountable to a higher tribunal than man's, which respects itself too much to be the slave of the many or the few.
The genius differs from us men in being able to endure isolation, his rank as a genius is proportionate to his strength for enduring isolation, whereas we men are constantly in need of "the others," the herd; we die, or despair, if we are not reassured by being in the herd, of the same opinion as the herd.,
Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius.
Man as an individual is a genius. But men in the mass form the Headless Monster, a great, brutish idiot that goes where prodded.
Genius is the ability to escape the human condition; Humanity is the need to escape.
Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric. Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.
John Stuart Mill
The millions are awake enough for physical labor; but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, only one in a hundred million to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive ... We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn.
Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth - more than ruin - more even than death... Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.
He is a man of capacity who possesses considerable intellectual riches: while he is a man of genius who finds out a vein of new ore. Originality is the seeing nature differently from others, and yet as it is in itself. It is not singularity or affectation, but the discovery of new and valuable truth. All the world do not see the whole meaning of any object they have been looking at. Habit blinds them to some things: shortsightedness to others. Every mind is not a gauge and measure of truth. Nature has her surface and her dark recesses. She is deep, obscure, and infinite. It is only minds on whom she makes her fullest impressions that can penetrate her shrine or unveil her Holy of Holies. It is only those whom she has filled with her spirit that have the boldness or the power to reveal her mysteries to others.
The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decisions, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.
Action, so to speak, is the genius of nature.
When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.
Society is a republic. When an individual endeavors to lift himself above his fellows, he is dragged down by the mass, either by means of ridicule or of calumny. No one shall be more virtuous or more intellectually gifted than others. Whoever, by the irresistable force of genius, rises above the common herd is certain to be ostracized by society, which will pursue him with such merciless derision and detraction that at last he will be compelled to retreat into the solitude of his thoughts.
Genius is its own reward; for the best that one is, one must necessarily be for oneself... Further, genius consists in the working of the free intellect., and as a consequence the productions of genius serve no useful purpose. The work of genius may be music, philosophy, painting, or poetry; it is nothing for use or profit. To be useless and unprofitable is one of the characteristics of genius; it is their patent of nobility.
Genius does not herd with genius.
This is the test and triumph of originality, not to show us what has never been, and what we may therefore very easily never have dreamt of, but to point out to us what is before our eyes and under our feet, though we have had no suspicion of its existence, for want of sufficient strength of intuition, of determined grasp of mind to seize and retain it.
The only difference between a genius and one of common capacity is that the former anticipates and explores what the latter accidentally hits upon; but even the man of genius himself more frequently employs the advantages that chance presents him; it is the lapidary who gives value to the diamond which the peasant has dug up without knowing its value.
Abbe Guillaume Raynal
What makes men of genius, or rather, what they make, is not new ideas, it is that idea - possessing them - that what has been said has still not been said enough.
Genius might well be defined as the ability to make a platitude sound as though it were an original remark.
L. B. Walton
Genius never desires what does not exist.
The great things in life are what they seem to be. And for that reason, strange as it may sound to you, often are very difficult to interpret (understand). Great passions are for the great of souls. Great events can only be seen by people who are on a level with them. We think we can have our visions for nothing. We cannot. Even the finest and most self-sacrificing visions have to paid for. Strangely enough, that is what makes them fine.
Fortunately for us, there have been traitors and there have been heretics, blasphemers, thinkers, investigators, lovers of liberty, men of genius who have given their lives to better the condition of their fellow-men. It may be well enough here to ask the question: What is greatness? A great man adds to the sum of knowledge, extends the horizon of thought, releases souls from the Bastille of fear, crosses unknown and mysterious seas, gives new islands and new continents to the domain of thought, new constellations to the firmament of mind. A great man does not seek applause or place; he seeks for truth; he seeks the road to happiness, and what he ascertains he gives to others. A great man throws pearls before swine, and the swine are sometimes changed to men. If the great had always kept their pearls, vast multitudes would be barbarians now. A great man is a torch in the darkness, a beacon: in superstition's night, an inspiration and a prophecy. Greatness is not the gift of majorities; it cannot be thrust upon any man; men cannot give it to another; they can give place and power, but not greatness. The place does not make the man, nor the scepter the king. Greatness is from within.
Some superior minds are unrecognized because there is no standard by which to weigh them.
It is impossible that a genius - at least a literary genius - can ever be discovered by his intimates; they are so close to him that he is out of focus to them and they can't get at his proportions; they can't perceive that there is any considerable difference between his bulk and their own.
Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered - either by themselves or by others.
The world is always ready to receive talent with open arms. Very often it does not know what to do with genius.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Society expresses its sympathy for the geniuses of the past to distract attention from the fact that it has no intention of being sympathetic to the geniuses of the present.
The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.
Every person of genius is considerably helped by being dead.
Robert S. Lund
Genius makes its observations in short-hand; talent writes them out at length.
Christian Nevell Bovee
Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.
C. W. Ceran
It takes immense genius to represent, simply and sincerely, what we see in front of us.
Genius without education is like silver in the mine.
The genius of any single man can no more equal learning, than a private purse hold way with the exchequer.
Talent without genius isn't much, but genius without talent is nothing whatsoever.
Men of genius are the worst possible role models for men of talent.
Murray D. Edwards
Genius, as an explosive power, beats gunpowder hollow.
A genius is one who shoots at something no one else can see, and hits it.
Real genius is nothing else but the supernatural virtue of humility in the domain of thought.
Genius is the capacity for productive reaction against one's training.
Genius is a promontory jutting out of the infinite.
The lamp of genius burns quicker than the lamp of life.
Johann Friedrich Von Schiller
Genius is, to be sure, not a matter of arbitrariness, but rather of freedom, just as wit, love, and faith, which once shall become arts and disciplines. We should demand genius from everybody, without, however, expecting it.
Could we teach taste or genius by rules, they would be no longer taste and genius.
Adversity reveals genius, prosperity conceals it.
In following the strong bent of his genius, he was self assured that he should 'create the taste by which he is to be enjoyed.
Mediocrity is self-inflicted. Genius is self-bestowed.
Everyone is a genius at least once a year; a real genius has his original ideas closer together.
G. C. Lichtenberg
Few people think more than two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.
George Bernard Shaw
Sometimes men come by the name of genius in the same way that certain insects come by the name of centipede - not because they have a hundred feet, but because most people can't count above fourteen.
G. C. Lichtenberg
Genius is personality with a penny's worth of talent. Error which chances to rise above the commonplace.
Once you had to be a genius to make works of art. Now you have to be a genius to understand them.
When human power becomes so great and original that we can account for it only as a kind of divine imagination, we call it genius.
So few people think. When we find one who really does, we call him a genius.
The ordinary man casts a shadow in a way we do not quite understand. The man of genius casts light.
True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.
Genius is an infinite capacity for taking life by the scruff of the neck.
Genius is that energy which collects, combines, amplifies, and animates.
Improvement makes straight roads; but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.
Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.
Art is a jealous mistress, and, if a man have a genius for painting, poetry, music, architecture, or philosophy, he makes a bad husband, and an ill provider, and should be wise in season, and not fetter himself with duties which will imbitter his days and spoil him for his proper work.
Everyone is born with genius, but most people only keep it a few minutes.
Edgard Varese (1883 - 1965)
Every man is a potential genius until he does something.
Sir Herbert Beerbohm
Geniuses experience a second adolescence, whereas other people are only young once.
If children grew up according to early indications, we should have nothing but geniuses.
True genius sees with the eyes of a child and thinks with the brain of a genii.
Genius has somewhat of the infantine; But of the childish not a touch or taint.
Otto Weininger on Genius
The man of genius is he who understands incomparably more other beings than the average man. Goethe is said to have said of himself that there was no vice or crime of which he could not trace the tendency in himself, and that at some period of his life he could not have understood fully. The genius, therefore, is a more complicated, more richly endowed, more varied man; and a man is the closer to being a genius the more men he has in his personality, and the more really and strongly he has these others within him. If comprehension of those about him only flickers in him like a poor candle, then he is unable, like the great poet, to kindle a mighty flame in his heroes, to give distinction and character to his creations. The ideal of an artistic genius is to live in all men, to lose himself in all men, to reveal himself in multitudes; and so also the aim of the philosopher is to discover all others in himself, to fuse them into a unit which is his own unit.
The ideal genius, who has all men within him, has also all their preferences and all their dislikes. There is in him not only the universality of men, but of all nature. He is the man to whom all things tell their secrets, to whom most happens, and whom least escapes. He understands most things, and those most deeply, because he has the greatest number of things to contrast and compare them with. The genius is he who is conscious of most, and of that most acutely. And so without doubt his sensations must be most acute; but this must not be understood as implying, say, in the artist the keenest power of vision, in the composer the most acute hearing; the measure of genius is not to be taken from the acuteness of the sense organ but from that of the perceiving brain.
Universality is the distinguishing mark of genius. There is no such thing as a special genius, a genius for mathematics, or for music, or even for chess, but only a universal genius. The genius is a man who knows everything without having learned it.
I regret that I must so continually use the word genius, as if that should apply only to a caste as well defined from those below as income-tax payers are from the untaxed. The word genius was very probably invented by a man who had small claims on it himself; greater men would have understood better what to be a genius really was, and probably they would have come to see that the word could be applied to most people. Goethe said that perhaps only a genius is able to understand a genius. -
The reason why madness overtakes so many men of genius - fools believe it comes from the influence of Venus, or the spinal degeneration of neurasthenics - is that for many the burden becomes too heavy, the task of bearing the whole world on the shoulders, like Atlas, intolerable for the smaller, but never for the really mighty minds. But the higher a man mounts, the greater may be his fall; all genius is a conquering of chaos, mystery, and darkness, and if it degenerates and goes to pieces, the ruin is greater in proportion to the success. The genius which runs to madness is no longer genius; it has chosen happiness instead of morality. All madness is the outcome of the insupportability of suffering attached to all consciousness.
No one suffers so much as he [the genius] with the people, and, therefore, for the people, with whom he lives. For, in a certain sense, it is certainly only "by suffering" that a man knows. If compassion is not itself clear, abstractly conceivable or visibly symbolic knowledge, it is, at any rate, the strongest impulse for the acquisition of knowledge. It is only by suffering that the genius understands men. And the genius suffers most because he suffers with and in each and all; but he suffers most through his understanding. . . .
It results from their periodicity that, in men of genius, sterile years precede productive years, these again to be followed by sterility, the barren periods being marked by psychological self-depreciation, by the feeling that they are less than other men; times in which the remembrance of the creative periods is a torment, and when they envy those who go about undisturbed by such penalties. Just as his moments of ecstasy are more poignant, so are the periods of depression of a man of genius more intense than those of other men. Every great man has such periods, of longer or shorter duration, times in which he loses self-confidence, in which he thinks of suicide; times in which, indeed, he may be sowing the seeds of a future harvest, but which are devoid of the stimulus to production; times which call forth the blind criticisms 'How such a genius is degenerating!' 'How he has played himself out!' 'How he repeates himself!' and so forth.
Talent is hereditary; it may be the common possession of a whole family (eg, the Bach family); genius is not transmitted; it is never diffused, but is strictly individual.
The age does not create the genius it requires. The genius is not the product of his age, is not to be explained by it, and we do him no honour if we attempt to account for him by it . . . And as the causes of its appearance do not lie in any one age, so also the consequences are not limited by time. The achievements of genius live for ever, and time cannot change them. By his works a man of genius is granted immortality on the earth, and thus in a threefold manner he has transcended time. His universal comprehension and memory forbid the annihilation of his experiences with the passing of the moment in which each occurred; his birth is independent of his age, and his work never dies.
Genius is, in its essence, nothing but the full completion of the idea of a man, and, therefore, every man ought to have some quality of it, and it should be regarded as a possible principle for every one. Genius is the highest morality, and, therefore, it is every one's duty. Genius is to be attained by a supreme act of the will, in which the whole universe is affirmed in the individual. Genius is something which 'men of genius' take upon themselves; it is the greatest exertion and the greatest pride, the greatest misery and the greatest ecstasy to a man. A man may become a genius if he wishes to. But at once it will certainly be said: "Very many men would like very much to be 'original geniuses,'" and their wish has no effect. But if these men who "would like very much" had a livelier sense of what is signified by their wish, if they were aware that genius is identical with universal responsibility - and until that is grasped it will only be a wish and not a determination - it is highly probable that a very large number of these men would cease to wish to become geniuses.
The most powerful musical motifs of world-music are those in which the representation of the breaking-through of time within time, the breaking out of time, is attempted, in which an ictus falls upon the tonic such that it reabsorbs the other parts of the melody (which as a whole represents time; separate points unified by the I) and in this manner sublimates the melody. The end of the Grail-motif in 'Parsifal,' the Siegfried-motif, are such melodies. There is, however, an act that, so to speak, reabsorbs the future in itself, experiences in advance all future falling back into immorality already as guilt, no less than all the immoral past, and by this means grows out over and beyond both: A timeless setting of the character, rebirth. It is the act by which genius comes to be.
Since the soul of man is the microcosm, and great men are those who live entirely in and through their souls, the whole universe thus having its being in them, the female must be described as absolutely without the quality of genius. . . . There is no female genius, and there never has been one . . . and there never can be one. Those who are in favour of laxity in these matters, and are anxious to extend and enlarge the idea of genius in order to make it possible to include women, would simply by such action destroy the concept of genius. . . . How could a soulless being possess genius? The possession of genius is identical with profundity; and if any one were to try to combine woman and profundity as subject and predicate, he would be contradicted on all sides. A female genius is a contradiction in terms, for genius is simply intensified, perfectly developed, universally conscious maleness.
Mankind occurs as male or female, as something or nothing. Woman has no share in ontological reality, no relation to the thing-in-itself, which, in the deepest interpretation, is the absolute, is God. Man in his highest form, the genius, has such a relation, and for him the absolute is either the conception of the highest worth of existence, in which case he is a philosopher; or it is the wonderful fairyland of dreams, the kingdom of absolute beauty, and then he is an artist.
In those rare individual cases where women approach genius they also approach masculinity.
The man of genius possesses, like everything else, the complete female in himself; but woman herself is only a part of the Universe, and the part can never be the whole; femaleness can never include genius. This lack of genius on the part of woman is inevitable because woman is not a monad, and cannot reflect the Universe.
There are probably very few people who have not at some time of their lives had some quality of genius. If they have not had such, it is probable that they have also been without great sorrow or great pain. They would have needed only to live sufficiently intently for a time for some quality to reveal itself. The poems of first love are a case in point, and certainly such love is a sufficient stimulus.
A nation orients itself by its own geniuses, and derives from them its ideas of its own ideals, but the guiding star serves also as a light to other nations. As speech has been created by a few great men, the most extraordinary wisdom lies concealed in it, a wisdom which reveals itself to a few ardent explorers but which is usually overlooked by the stupid professional philologists.
The genius is not a critic of language, but its creator, as he is the creator of all the mental achievements which are the material of culture and which make up the objective mind, the spirit of the peoples. The "timeless" men are those who make history, for history can be made only by those who are not floating with the stream. It is only those who are unconditioned by time who have real value, and whose productions have an enduring force. And the events that become forces of culture become so only because they have an enduring value. -
It is the genius in reality and not the other who is the creator of history, for it is only the genius who is outside and unconditioned by history. The great man has a history, the emperor is only a part of history. The great man transcends time; time creates and time destroys the emperor.
It is certainly true that most men need some kind of a God. A few, and they are the men of genius, do not bow to an alien law. The rest try to justify their doings and misdoings, their thinking and existence (at least the menial side of it), to some one else, whether it be the personal God of the Jews, or a beloved, respected, and revered human being. It is only in this way that they can bring their lives under the social law. . . .
The ego of the genius accordingly is simply itself universal comprehension, the centre of infinite space; the great man contains the whole universe within himself; genius is the living microcosm. He is not an intricate mosaic, a chemical combination of an infinite number of elements; the argument in chap. iv. as to his relation to other men and things must not be taken in that sense; he is everything. In him and through him all psychical manifestations cohere and are real experiences, not an elaborate piece-work, a whole put together from parts in the fashion of science. For the genius the ego is the all, lives as the all; the genius sees nature and all existences as whole; the relations of things flash on him intuitively; he has not to build bridges of stones between them.
The man of genius is he whose ego has acquired consciousness. He is enabled by it to distinguish the fact that others are different, to perceive the "ego" of other men, even when it is not pronounced enough for them to be conscious of it themselves. But it is only he who feels that every other man is also an ego, a monad, an individual centre of the universe, with specific manner of feeling and thinking and a distinct past, he alone is in a position to avoid making use of his neighbours as means to an end.
The history of the human race (naturally I mean the history of its mind and not merely its wars) is readily intelligible on the theory of the appearance of genius, and of the imitation by the more monkey-like individuals of the conduct of those with genius. The chief stages, no doubt, were house- building, agriculture, and above all, speech. Every single word has been the invention of a single man, as, indeed, we still see, if we leave out of consideration the merely technical terms. How else could language have arisen? The earliest words were "onomatopoetic"; a sound similar to the exciting cause was evolved almost without the will of the speaker, in direct response to the sensuous stimulation. All the other words were originally metaphors, or comparisons, a kind of primitive poetry, for all prose has come from poetry. Many, perhaps the majority of the greatest geniuses, have remained unknown. Think of the proverbs, now almost commonplaces, such as "one good turn deserves another." These were said for the first time by some great man. How many quotations from the classics, or sayings of Christ, have passed into the common language, so that we have to think twice before we can remember who were the authors of them. Language is as little the work of the multitude as our ballads. Every form of speech owes much that is not acknowledged to individuals of another language. Because of the universality of genius, the words and phrases that he invents are useful not only to those who use the language in which he wrote them. A nation orients itself by its own geniuses, and derives from them its ideas of its own ideals, but the guiding star serves also as a light to other nations. As speech has been created by a few great men, the most extraordinary wisdom lies concealed in it, a wisdom which reveals itself to a few ardent explorers but which is usually overlooked by the stupid professional philologists.
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