Monday, February 02, 2009

Genius & Tyranny 4

Genius is established by insight, whereas wisdom sees through it all, even through the insight, and thus sees right through itself. The genius does not see through himself, has no insight into himself. (That is his particular sadness.) He is not freed from knowing, but is beholden to the knowledge he has gathered for himself.

The genius is not, of course, easily understood. He is often not understood at all. But the genius himself understands. He understands completely. He has become the tyrant of his own understanding. That is his knowledge.

Tyranny is established by conquest, whereas love conquers all, even the conquering, and thus itself. The tyrant does not conquer also himself, has no dominion over himself. (Will we grant the sadness of the tyrant?) He is not freed from power, but is beholden to the power he has gathered for himself.

The tyrant is not merely obeyed. Or rather, the tyrant is often not even obeyed. At bottom, it is the tyrant who obeys. Fully and completely obeys. He has become the genius of his own obedience. That is his power.

2 comments:

Matt said...

"But the genius himself understands. He understands completely. He has become the tyrant of his own understanding. That is his knowledge."

We can certain play with or entertain the idea that some people generate ideas that are closer to the truth than others, but they are just as much a prisoner of these ideas as anyone else. But in what sense does truth bind us?

Of course, you might not like the *idea* of truth, but then to what end is all this thinking?

I'm feeling a Wittgenstein hangover here.

Thomas Basbøll said...

You misunderstand. I suspect genius is a substitute for the pursuit of truth, a usurper of sorts (in Harold Bloom's sense perhaps). You become a genius not by discovering something new but by working through what is already known. This is what I mean when I say that genius remains "immanent". It reconfigures the knowledge base; it does not extend it.

The tyrant, likewise, reconfigures the power base.