A few months back I was thinking about posting something on Famous Bald Artistic Geniuses until I realised it was a boring topic and in fact I was boring myself just thinking about it. Today I was sent something that reminded me of one of the people who would have made that ill-fated list had I ever bothered to cobble it together (I think I got as far as Steven Berkoff then went to make some toast).
I've long thought Brian Eno is a bit of a genius, but reading this thing I was set me straight. Not that he hasn't produced some amazing art, but he calls for a rethinking of the term 'genius' and it's replacement with the notion of 'scenius':
"Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the genius."
When he was programming the Luminous Festival in Sydney recently (which I had mixed thoughts about - a bit unadventurous, but then I didn't actually go...), he elaborated the concept a bit further. You can read a snippet here that sums things up nicely. "Let’s forget the idea of 'genius' for a little while," he says, "... let’s think about the whole ecology of ideas that give rise to good new thoughts and good new work."
Anyway, I got to this by reading a great post at The Technium, which I'd never heard of and which features some really provocative ideas. In fact, I got caught up reading a lot more of the site than I'd intended to. It's definitely worth visiting though - for instance, in discussing 'scenius' The Technium actually lists the specific conditions in which such creative cultures can arise, and notes that they can't be deliberately manufactured as such. This is worth pursuing, since of course the general scenius concept isn't really new, and anyone who knows anything about art history will know that the Great Man theory of history only came about relatively recently.