"...and we can do it again; and we will do it again." The Americans were referring to their part in winning World
War I. It probably does not apply to the local art scene. Ronald Searle, penned "The Second Coming of Toulouse Lautrec." The Lautrec drawings are dated 1969. It seems Searle's experience drawing the "ladies" of Hamburg in 1967 may have inspired the project.  Following that experience. Searle identified with Lautrec in small measure as an artist amongst "les femmes de nuit."  He was, however, a linear lover in spite of his imperfections.

To be honest, it is anachronistic and delusional to suppose that the past can be recaptured even in small measure; and should one want to do that? In Joyland, Stephen King correctly stated that "When it comes to the past, everyone writes fiction." And because it is "alternate truth" returning to a more exact history might not be fun.

In every case of human kind, the full truth probably is no longer out there,  if it ever was. Did Toulouse Lautrec's vision have something to do with his artist's statement that one should paint the close-at-hand? He admired Degas and Renoir for obvious reasons and noted, " Monet would have been even greater if he had not abandoned figure-painting. Suffering from vision problems, which were probably the reverse of those of the great Henri, Monet had no choice in that matter! Monet was an outdoor man, and Henri, necessarily, an indoor man. Visual artists do tend to harbour delusions, and these are sometimes a symptom of a mental disorder.

Because of that time lapse between eye, mind and hand co-ordination all painters record the past, no matter how hard they try to remain contemporary. There is no future time that we are certain exists and the present is definitely a fleeting illusion. Hence, everyone falls into fairly quickly into anachronism, but that's not necessarily a reason to be fearful or sad. On the other hand, psychologists continue to examine the link between "Creativity and Madness" the theme of an annual conference  The American Institute of Medical Education in the Canadian Rockies, for Jun 20 until July 1, 2017. Central to this meeting yet another consideration of "Psychological Studies of Art and Artists." You have heard of the "self-fulfilling prophecy?"

"The centuries-old stereotype of the suffering of a 'mad artist' help to fuel the link by putting expectations on how an artist should act, or possibly making the field more attractive to those with mental illness." The majority of people who have chosen to work as visual artists have typically had to struggle with poverty, persecution, social alienation, psychological trauma, substance abuse, "resulting in high stress and other such environmental factors which are associated with developing and perhaps causing mental illness." Of course, there were exceptions, like Henri, whose family was wealthy and his mother supportive. He managed a very good living by combining fine and commercial art in his brand. In his case, he related best to the Moulin Rouge crowd and ended by drinking too much Absinthe.

Of course, there are all kinds of "creative geniuses" and not all "artists" are visually oriented. Robert Pirsig who had personal experience with mental illness guessed that a true misfit was a person haunted by a personal "reality" no one else in his or her culture could see.  They are sometimes labeled as "delusional."  As an able wordsmith, he notes that all philosophers are agreed that that that last word is completely subjective. "It is always the other person who's 'deluded.'" He goes on to say that all of us are capable of admitting to having been deluded in the past, but rarely see ourselves in that light in more "contemporary" time.

If that squared block gets pounded down into a square egg it may spatter beyond expectations. Here's the thing, "Delusions can be held by whole groups of people, as long as  we're not part of that group. If we are a member then that delusion becomes a 'minority opinion.'"  And we now know that within that group, it is "alternate truth." Insane delusions supposedly cannot be held by a group.  "A person isn't considered insane if there are a number of people who believe the same way. Insanity isn't supposed to be a communicable disease. If one other person starts to believe him, or maybe two or three, then it's a religion."

Pirsig further explained that philosophers have traditionally represented their ideas as springing from "nature" or "God." But he suspects that they are based in myth, which attempts to explain  the relationship of humans with their ancient gods, whether pagan or what have you. Unlike legends, which are tales of the heroism of men and women, the myth offers unscientific explanations of natural or social happenings. These tales are very old and usually demand supernatural belief. "Touched in the head" used to be regarded as a mark of divine favour.  Pirsig insists that "mythos" represents "social culture and rhetoric" the precursor of "philosophy." Then too, although he admits that "most of it is nonsense" he adds that it is also the parent of present-day science.

Mythology is derived from French mythologie, or via late Latin from Greek muthologia, from muthos "myth" + logia, "the study of-" Logos is a term  widely used in western philosophy, psychology, rhetoric, and religion, the root Greek word meaning "discourse." The word also survives in English as logic. Logos tries to persuade an audience using logical arguments and supportive evidence. Logos is a persuasive technique often used in writing and rhetoric. "Ancient Greek philosophers used the term in different ways. The sophists used the term to mean discourse, and Aristotle applied the term to refer to 'reasoned discourse.'"

"Sophists specialized in using the techniques of philosophy and rhetoric for the purpose of teaching arête -"excellence" or "virtue"- predominantly to young statesmen and nobility." Their practice of charging money for education and providing wisdom only to those who could pay led to criticism. This led to the modern meaning of the word. Under Plato and Aristotle, philosophy came to be regarded as distinct from sophistry. Thus, by the time of the Roman Empire, a sophist was regarded as nothing more than a teacher of rhetoric and a popular public speaker, the starting position for a political populism career.

The Royal Pavilion, also known as the Brighton Pavilion, is a former royal residence located in Brighton, England. It was built as a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales, who became the Prince Regent in 1811. He became KIng George IV in 1821 and died following a dissolute life in 1830. 
is descended from the Proto-Indo-European language where it was represented as rt one of the smallest grammatical units, an element added to other words to create various meanings. The ancient Greeks tacked on other letters to meet their phonetic purposes. It has the meaning of "first" Hence, The English word aristocrat, as pictured above by Searle. In this case, arête is combined with the Greek kratos, "power."

There is a host of similarly derived words, "rhetoric" for example. Then also, "arithmetic, rite, worth, ritual, wright," and "right," as opposed to left). It can be seen that Rt identified the "first," the "first created," something innately "above" all others of the kind, "morally superior," or "aesthetically finished," or "entirely correct." Arithmetic continued to draw praise as "beautifully repetitive." In Roman parlance "art" was all about "looking after business," but earlier on Art had a simpler, happier meaning suggesting what Pirsig identified as "Quality." Obviously, arête suggested importance but this word  was a Sophitic antonym, suggesting a formal, procedural, manufactured approach to "importance."

"The Bride's Song," 1881. In the end, Pirsig decided that arête was the equivalent of the Victorian word "virtue." He explained that their concept of the word "implies ritualistic conformity to social protocol." It also connotated "sexual abstinence, prissinesses and a holier than thou attitude." Modernism was a reaction to that!

Arête marches on in the Post-post modernist world of 2017. Technically we are Homo sapiens, but is the above collaborative art Quality? Have we emerged or are we submerging in terms of doing our best for where we are at? Primitive societies and the under-privileged have no time to consider these questions. They do recognize their version of virtue as defined by their society and they distinguish between the good and evil deeds of their fellows. Pirsig said that these folk, "... don't talk about abstract ideas." He added that Franz Boas noticed that Dakota Indians did not use "good" as an adjective but as a noun. They would caution "Take care of your goodness," or "Be good," rather that "He was a good man." In his final book from the last century, on the last page, Pirsig, decided that that intuitive definition also explained his concept of "Quality." which has largely become a lost (a)rt.  Good is literally as good as god.

"Mr. Searle is a genius."—Groucho Marx. "Everybody is a Genius." - Albert Einstein. "Madness is genius" - Marilyn Monroe. "Andy Warhol is the only genius I've ever known with an I.Q. of 60." - Gore Vidal. Everybody talks about genius but today it is poorly defined. This was not always the case: A Latin word, the ancient Romans understood Genius as the guiding spirit or tutelary deity of a person, family (gens), or place (genius loci). Hence England was seen as having one of these immortal nature spirits installed and still resident in London, which his named after it. The Teutonic/Old Norse tribes described them as the Nornir, and the Cel
ts as the Befinde.

These guardian or advisory spirits were "born to each child," and were "those who predict its future and endow it with good or doubtful gifts."  It is a spirit, now referred to as "the guardian angel," a supernatural which remains wildly popular. It is the root of the Presbyterian theory of Predestination, since individuals have no control over the gifts given by God. Individuals were not seen as self-gifted, but rather as "touched in the head" by external forces.  The noun is related to the Latin verb genui, genitus, "to bring into being, create, produce", as well as to the Greek word for birth. By the time of Augustus, the word began to acquire its secondary meaning of "inspiration, or "talent," and was at first seen as describing gifted visual artists.

And begorra, it has become an upside down world.  "The term genius acquired its modern sense in the eighteenth century, and is a conflation of two Latin terms: genius, as above, and ingenium, a related noun referring to our innate dispositions, talents, and inborn nature." Encyclopédie describes génie as a person "whose soul is more expansive and struck by the feelings of all others; interested by all that is in nature never to receive an idea unless it evokes a feeling; everything excites him and on which nothing is lost." Of course, no such person exists. since even geniuses are limited to a few realms of expertise and are not universally gifted. Early Greek thinkers believed that an overabundance of black bile endowed poets, philosophers and other unfortunates with "exalted powers."

The first assessment of intelligence was initiated by Francis Galton (1822–1911) and James McKeen Cattell. Galton proposed that "hereditary influences on eminent achievement are strong, and that eminence is rare in the general population." Lewis Terman chose "'near' genius or genius" as the classification label for the highest classification on his 1916 version of the Stanford-Binet test."
Genius was at first seen as represented in an IQ score of 130 or more, a rare condition.

By 1937, in the second revision of the Stanford-Binet test, Terman no longer used the term "genius" as an IQ classification, nor has any subsequent IQ test. His studies suggested it was not entirely a matter of genes: "The current view of psychologists and other scholars of genius is that a minimum level of IQ (approximately 125) is necessary for genius but not sufficient (in itself), and must be combined with personality characteristics such as drive and persistence, plus the necessary opportunities for talent development." Having been a school teacher, Rod was subjected to a lot of multiple choice nonsense, and tested with the 95% range on IQ tests, consistently. He experienced some bad luck,  but more opportunities than most people.

"On earth as it is in heaven..."  Pagan mythology warned that the gods were very like men.  Termen, a Stanford University prof began tracking 1,500 California school kids back in the 1920s, all tested with IQs of 140 or more along with a control group/ The final report "Gentic Studies of Genius" published four decades later,  showed they were a fairly "successful lot." However, some Mensa-type "Termites" struggled without success. The control group contained others with IQ ratings below genius status, but a surprising number became eminent in their field, most notably two who won Nobel Prizes in physics. Charles Darwin may have been one of these. He described himself as "a very ordinary but, rather below the common in intellect."


The chimney sweep makes a discovery.  When it comes to age and creative achievement there are worries whether one is a genius or not. Santa Claus certainly was? In 1953 psychologist Harvey Lehman did another study which attempted to relate the age of artists with his or hers stellar works.  In the case of painting (based on a sample of 650 [people) the best work seems to have emerged between the ages of 35 and 39, a bit later for poetry, Theatre and the writing of novels.In the physical sciences and music, the most productive period was cited as earlier.

Eighty-five psychologists were studied by their fellow, Harvey Lehman, and found best between the ages of 30 and 34.  Another of their breed, Dean Keith Simonton, reiterated that choosing a profession was relevant to creativity, and mastering it early on, desirable. Poets did well because their medium was less complex and easier to manoeuvre. However, he noticed that "Individual differences are actually so large they swamp the impact of age. A first rate genius at age 80m is worth more than a second-rate talent at half that age." With the visual arts there is also the matter of how well the physical body of the artist is holding up. The sensory equipment has to be in good order and have access to both halves of a active brain according to current scientific study.

This is Ronald Searle's ad  for the Minolta HiMatic, which introduced a built-in light meter for the first time back in 1962. With things developing as they have, tomorrow's visual artists may have even less dependence on their natural genius.  Einstein seems to have seen genius as a birthright, gifted on individuals "for ill or good." He was not suggesting that "All men are created  equal." He may actually have said: "Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid." Like Pirsig, he seems to have viewed all human lives as having Value if not Quality.

Einstein does appear to have said, "I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious."Writing about GENIUS for National Geographic (May 2017) Claudia Kalb suggested that "The truest mark of genius is whether a person's work resonates through the ages, and cites Michaelangelo's statue of "David" as an example of talent, a fully evolved natural "gift." The old Celtic philosophers noted that a very  gifted individual might be born with more than a single befind or "guiding spirit.

Einstein may not have had a well-developed individual talent,  but he certainly saw things differently. Neither his brain waves, recorded in 1952, nor his slide-mounted brain slices reveal little explanation of his cognitive acuity. However, Marcus Newburg's MRI studies suggest that those with peculiar abilities have "more communication going on between the left and right hemispheres of the brain" than average. He says that with creative folk, "There's more flexibility in their, more contributions from different parts of the brain."

Donald Trump may think that genetic potential is all important, but Kalb points out that it has been shown that this factor alone does not predict accomplishment. As they said in Rod's long-ago psych classes, "It's not just nature but nurture."  Even then genius does not necessarily mature in the best possible environment. Psychologist Angelina Duckworth reflected Einstein's belief, when she said that maturation of natural gifts takes "grit," passion and perserverence. Darwin got it right in "The Origin Of Species"
because he was an obsessive workaholic.

In the visual arts, we have Searle, Wilson, Gorey and many others, as examples of this driving force. Duckwoth, who works at the University of Pennsylvania, says that genius is too often misinterpreted as a magical happening; erupting spontaneously, with neither inspiration nor perspiration. "When you really  look at somebody who accomplishes something great, it is not effortless." And as Einstein has also commented, "The only way to avoid the corruptible influence of praise is to go on working."

"Don't let the stars get in your eyes" is really good advice, but in this age when everyone sees themselves as an artist of one sort or another, there are missteps. Dean Keith Siminton at UC Davis is quoted as observing, "Most compositions are not recorded. Most works of art aren't displayed." It is often forgotten that the poor and oppressed work so hard to stay alive they have no hope of cultivating talents. In the Terman study, mentioned earlier, the researchers found that half the women interviewed married and became homemakers, a profession which does not allow a lot of time for personal development.

Kalb argues that Leonardo da Vinci was the individual who has best personified genius.  Born in modest circumstances in the Italian outback in 1452, he had the good fortune to be apprenticed to Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence as a teenager. At that time this town was many different artists, including Raphael and Michelangelo, all seeking a living and acclaim from wealthy patrons. They sometimes supported creativity and inventiveness, but not always with hard cash. It was not entirely a Golden Age, but he filled notebooks with thousands of drawings and illustrations of his varied projects. "Obstacles do not crush me," he wrote. "he who is fixed to a star does not change his mind." By times he did have good luck, promise and opportunity, all swept away when he went the path followed by all humankind.

Increasingly it has become thought that creativity may involve more factors than inheritance, intellectual capacity and a solid cultural environment. sensual acuity may factor in: Leonardo is seen as having great vision, while Mozart is credited with having extraordinary hearing.  That loss over time may help to explain why most artists are less productive as senior citizens. The Leonardo Project at the University of Florence is making a stab at deciding whether genetic factors are of prime importance to the equation of extraordinary touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing. Larger than life individuals see things in better perspective than the rest of us, which is why they are so annoying.

Louis XIV introduces the Louisville Slugger burger. Some people may be gifted with little more than great environment sampling and feedback equipment, which turns them into sensualist pseudo-intellectual "know-it-alls." Sometimes their social position makes them hard to ignore.

"Watch, listen and learn. You can't know it all. Anyone who  thinks they do is destined for mediocrity." - Donald Trump as represented by a ghostwriting avatar. He has come up with simpler, better words since then: "I'm not a natural leader. I'm too intellectual; I'm too abstract; I think too much." Pseudo intellectuals are those educated beyond their level of understanding. Most infamously "I could shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters."

Even during the Renaissance true intellectuals had a bad habit of advertising their versions of reality and got negative feedback. "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can change this." - Einstein, 1954. In part, the current Republican rejection of true creativity and intellectualism goes back to Hitler's Germany.

Pirsig saw the rise of Socialism and Facism in the last century as reactions against reason and their annoying elitism; along the lines of earlier Christian authoritarianism. The driving force behind Adolph was, he suggested, an all consuming need to glorify small "s" socialism "fueled by anti-intellectualism." His hatred of Communism is seen as rebellion against intellectual Socialist theory. He saw himself as one of the volk, an artistic political genius.

In the 1932 presidential election, Franklin Delano Roosevelt defeated incumbent Republican president Herbert Hoover in a landslide to win the presidency. Roosevelt took office in the midst of the worst economic crisis in world and US history. His solution, the "New Deal" was completed during his first  hundred days in office, and it had an intellectual bias. He hired intellectuals rather than those with an IQ at the middle of the bell curve.  WPA, Works Progress Administration in aid of the unemployed;  PWA, Public Works Administration;  AAA, Agricultural Adjustment Act. There was also the FPA, Federal (Visual) Arts Program.

This was a very reactionary change, since ivory-tower workers under the Republicans had been ignored and underpaid for the roles they played in forwarding technology and the social order.  Placing high-brows in positions of power offended "the finest, oldest, and wealthiest social groups." Roosevelt, a scion of that class, was branded a traitor to his tribe, a man who seemed intent on handing the United States over to "egg-heads, "Commies" and that ilk.  Unfortunately, this new class which came to control the Democratic Party, substituted intellectual snobbery for social snobbery, and set the stage for further confrontations.

Short term, nothing succeeds like success, but Churchill outlasted Roosevelt and lived to regret that Yalta Conference photo-op involving himself, Joe and Frank. And Winston was a belligerent conservative. Intellectuals, once thought under control in Victorian times, had become masters of the social order. Money poured into universities and think tanks.

When there is too much weight on one of the two basis opposing social/political values, reaction has to occur, and it came in the form of Post Modernism, which sprung out of science's mechanistic view of society. This view suggested that life had no purpose but was merely procedure in accordance with scientific laws of nature.  Pirsig put the dilemma this way: "If there is nothing morally wrong with being lazy, nothing morally wrong with lying, with theft, with suicide, with murder, with genocide... was this intellectual pattern going to run society?" Bertrand Russell, a more visible agnostic than Einstein was a part of the mix in the last century, the religious right saw him as more of a apocalyptic Beast than Aleister Crawley.

Whatever the point in time: "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown." Western intellectuals were largely agreed that humanity's ills were not based on his biological, but on his social nature, although Russian thinkers held the opposite view. The psychologists in Europe and North America were shrill on deriding the Victorian idea of repressing social fantasies in the belief that that would improve mankind. However, as Pirsig noted, "Intellectual permissiveness and destruction of social authority are no more scientific than Victorian discipline."

Among artists, the new intellectualism looked back to the future for cultural values. Grant Wood, Hart Benton, Faulkner, Steinbeck and almost everyone else unearthed folklore as their foundation, praising the untouched, innocent aboriginal, not realizing that he was parallel in values to the illiterate white American.  And that is the point at which technological and scientific progress became "Paradise Lost."

As noted previously, that particular "ism" of insanity has yet to be completely displaced. In the meantime, the yggs have it! I have had fun creating word puzzles, but so far no one has responded in any measure. - Rod
By the 1937 second revision of the Stanford-Binet test, Terman no longer used the term "genius" as an IQ classification, nor has any subsequent IQ test