The genius is the only one
Who can love herself and hate people.
The genius understands every motive
And the origin of every motive.
The genius can be smilingly alone
In a room full of laughing people.
The genius has none of those friends
Who are not really friends.
The genius has only private wants,
Not public needs.
The genius is a genius at being left alone.
The genius is mundane on the outside,
Exciting on the inside.
The genius could be from the cold north
Or the warm south—geography has nothing to do with genius.
You don’t travel to experience genius.
Genius is right beside you when you first fall in love.
Genius is what you don’t notice until it’s too late.
Genius is nice—but not nice.
Genius always gives a little to accident.
Genius was up late at night
But will never tell you.
Genius is comfortable—but never comfortable.
Genius lives with fear and lust
As others live with sunny boredom.
Genius is strange, but in a beautiful way.
Genius goes out all the time, and always finds something.
Genius sleeps in a bed of thinking.
Genius transcends Time and timing.
Genius takes what makes you afraid,
Goes one step further, and laughs.
Genius is sensitive before you are
To what you are most sensitive about.
Genius is right in front of you
And terribly far away.


  1. January 17, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Nice piece. I especially like “geography has nothing to do with genius”. I note too that it is at this point that “the genius” becomes “genius”. This seems significant.

    • thomasbrady said,

      January 17, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      Nice observation, Duncan.

  2. Laura Runyan said,

    January 17, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Too many different types of genius exist for universals or broad generalizations to adequately describe the phenomeon, at least for me. Some geniuses are socially adept, some are not; some are gregarious and charming while others are stiff and uncomfortable around other members of their own species; some are academically brilliant while being inept at reading other people’s emotions (OR motives); some are creatively gifted but struggle against the kind of analytic thinking required to complete a difficult math problem; some are gifted both creatively and analytically…

    The good fiction writers I know tend to eschew universals and broad generalizations when it comes to describing large classes of human beings. It’s the particular, not the general, that’s more interesting–and telling–to them.

    • thomasbrady said,

      January 17, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      Ideas are superior to particulars. The physical fact of the asymmetrical, for instance, could not exist without the idea of symmetry. Every worthy fact exists simultaneously with an idea. Particulars are worthless without ideas; ideas, which breed particulars, are all that finally matter to the creative faculty.

    • drew said,

      January 18, 2014 at 9:32 pm

      Dang, GIrl –
      You keep hitting on this FICTION thing…

      • thomasbrady said,

        January 19, 2014 at 6:56 pm

        Now, Drew, poets these days should always be flattered when fiction writers pay attention to them.

        • drew said,

          January 19, 2014 at 7:27 pm

          Fiction = fusion of form plus function minus fact
          (I think…)

    • powersjq said,

      January 30, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      Gardner’s notion of multiple forms of intelligence dovetails nicely with current notions of plurality and diversity. Plurality and diversity clearly _presume_ some more encompassing universal that is then subdivided. “Human being,” “human right,” “human intelligence.” Such universals must have _some_ coherent character of their own, or the notions of plurality and diversity become empty. This is a thoughtless and tedious criticism.

      “The good fiction writers I know tend to eschew universals and broad generalizations when it comes to describing large classes of human beings. It’s the particular, not the general, that’s more interesting–and telling–to them.”

      Are you saying that Joyce’s _Ulysses_, which mostly comprises trivial particulars, “eschews universals”? This is sloppy, self-contradictory nonsense. To describe a class one is obliged to use a universal. “Human being” is a concept, a type, a universal. So are “man,” “woman,” “detective,” “professor,” “housewife,” “politician,” and so on. All characters are instantiations of types. As are all of settings and props. Maybe you’re just saying that good writers fuss over particular details, but that’s only and precisely because the details particularize the universals. A work of literature _unites_ the particular and the universal; it could not, even if it wanted to, take more “interest” one over the other except in the narrow sense of a craft recommendation.

  3. Don Fox said,

    January 17, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    So only an introvert can be a genius?

    • thomasbrady said,

      January 17, 2014 at 7:46 pm


      Leonardo da Vinci: “I would ask the painter to be solitary and consider what he sees and discuss with himself, choosing the most excellent parts of the species of whatever he sees. If he does this, he will appear to be a second nature.”

      Edgar Poe: “Had the routine of our life at this place been known to the world, we should have been regarded as madmen — although, perhaps, as madmen of a harmless nature. Our seclusion was perfect. We admitted no visitors. Indeed the locality of our retirement had been carefully kept a secret from my own former associates; and it had been many years since Dupin had ceased to know or be known in Paris. We existed within ourselves alone.

      It was a freak of fancy in my friend (for what else shall I call it?) to be enamored of the Night for her own sake; and into this bizarrerie, as into all his others, I quietly fell; giving myself up to his wild whims with a perfect abandon. The sable divinity would not herself dwell with us always; but we could counterfeit her presence. At the first dawn of the morning we closed all the messy shutters of our old building; lighting a couple of tapers which, strongly perfumed, threw out only the ghastliest and feeblest of rays. By the aid of these we then busied our souls in dreams — reading, writing, or conversing, until warned by the clock of the advent of the true Darkness. Then we sallied forth into the streets, arm in arm, continuing the topics of the day, or roaming far and wide until a late hour, seeking, amid the wild lights and shadows of the populous city, that infinity of mental excitement which quiet observation can afford.” –Murders in the Rue Morgue

      Hawthorne returned to Salem, where he lived…in almost absolute seclusion for fourteen years.”

      “many historians have guessed that Homer was blind…”

      “Few records of Shakespeare’s life survive…”

      Michelangelo also obtained special permission from the Catholic Church to study cadavers for insight into anatomy, though exposure to corpses had an adverse effect on his health.”

      “These music-lovers were Beethoven’s greatest supporters. He became angry regularly with one or another of them, often making honorable amends soon afterwards. His talent excused his excessive, impulsive behavior.”

      “This was the style of their conversation as they went along. Socrates dropped behind in a fit of abstraction, and desired Aristodemus, who was waiting, to go on before him. When he reached the house of Agathon he found the doors wide open, and a comical thing happened. A servant coming out met him, and led him at once into the banqueting-hall in which the guests were reclining, for the banquet was about to begin. Welcome, Aristodemus, said Agathon, as soon as he appeared — you are just in time to sup with us; if you come on any other matter put it off, and make one of us, as I was looking for you yesterday and meant to have asked you, if I could have found you. But what have you done with Socrates?

      I turned round, but Socrates was nowhere to be seen; and I had to explain that he had been with me a moment before, and that I came by his invitation to the supper.

      You were quite right in coming, said Agathon; but where is he himself?

      He was behind me just now, as I entered, he said, and I cannot think what has become of him.

      Go and look for him, boy, said Agathon, and bring him in; and do you, Aristodemus, meanwhile take the place by Eryximachus.

      The servant then assisted him to wash, and he lay down, and presently another servant came in and reported that our friend Socrates had retired into the portico of the neighbouring house. ‘There he is fixed,’ said he, ‘and when I call to him he will not stir.’

      How strange, said Agathon; then you must call him again, and keep calling him.

      Let him alone, said my informant; he has a way of stopping anywhere and losing himself without any reason. I believe that he will soon appear; do not therefore disturb him.

      Well, if you think so, I will leave him, said Agathon. And then, turning to the servants, he added, ‘Let us have supper without waiting for him. Serve up whatever you please, for there is no one to give you orders; hitherto I have never left you to yourselves. But on this occasion imagine that you are our hosts, and that I and the company are your guests; treat us well, and then we shall commend you.’ After this, supper was served, but still no Socrates; and during the meal Agathon several times expressed a wish to send for him, but Aristodemus objected; and at last when the feast was about half over — for the fit, as usual, was not of long duration — Socrates entered.” —Symposium, Plato

      “it was not until after her death in 1886—when Lavinia, Dickinson’s younger sister, discovered her cache of poems—that the breadth of Dickinson’s work became apparent.”

      Dante said he first met Beatrice Portinari, daughter of Folco Portinari, at age nine, and claimed to have fallen in love with her ‘at first sight,’ apparently without even talking with her. He saw her frequently after age 18, often exchanging greetings in the street, but never knew her well.”


      • powersjq said,

        January 30, 2014 at 5:06 pm

        Meh. The “lone genius” trope is the most unfortunate of Romanticism’s conceits. Genius may inhere in individuals, but it is activated and effective only in a context that encompasses both a tradition and an appreciative public. Some amount of alone time is obviously helpful for most kinds of creative endeavor, but so too is some amount of social time.

  4. powersjq said,

    January 30, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    “The genius is the only one
    Who can love themselves and hate people.”

    Subject-object agreement. “The genius” = singular. “Themselves” = plural. Hard to get past this.

  5. thomasbrady said,

    January 30, 2014 at 8:03 pm


    Thank you. I have fixed “themselves…” I was anxious to hide gender…

    Yes, this is true. “Lone genius” refers more to a method than what genius is, or what genius is for. You are quite right.


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