This post was submitted as a blog-comment-box response to Kate Zambreno writing on her blog that genius is a fucked up, status-quo interred concept; it may end up at FFIMS, but very recently responses havn't ended up posted--this cld be because Kate is too busy, or because the computer cogs have decided to revolt and stuff has gone to an abyss etc; anyways, here is my ditty:
I'd argue that genius comes to inflect future status quos, but that almost by definition it cannot be the status quo at the time of its inception: Stein, Cezanne, Dickinson. Interestingly, it seems like Woolf was rightfully recognized in a quite short span of time. I do not mind the term genius because, for me, it basically just denotes work which displays insane ambition and manages, in the execution, to make that ambition something others can richly engage with. I do though think that calling a con temporary American grant a Genius grant is dumb: what that really says is those in the Macarthur committee matrix are super astute observers of culture--the most astute, and this is wonky; single individuals likely aren't the sole or even most crucial way genius gets recognized, but rather through a much broader swath of humanity. I do think Genius may not at-all be a generative paradigm for contemporary practitioners in a given field: 99.999 percent of those who practice are not/will not be geniuses; several decades can go by before the spore takes fire; and this doesn't mean wonderful stuff ain't happening in the interim!
ps: I've been loving H Bloom's latest, and it recently dawned on me that you and him have a ton in common as far as approach goes, that you all may be kindred! One moment in particular cld almost be you! I don't think either one of you, though, would be pleased by this connection, yes, so true!