On the trouble with *being* a genius instead of *having* a genius:
…and all you have to do is look at the very grim death count in the 20th century alone, of really magnificent creative minds who died young and often at their own hands, you know? And even the ones who didn’t literally commit suicide seem to be really undone by their gifts. Norman Mailer, just before he died, last interview, he said “Every one of my books has killed me a little more.” An extraordinary statement to make about your life’s work. But we don’t even blink when we hear somebody say this because we’ve heard that kind of stuff for so long and somehow we’ve completely internalized and accepted collectively this notion that creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked and that artistry, in the end, will always ultimately lead to anguish.
And the question that I want to ask everybody here today is are you guys all cool with that idea? Are you comfortable with that — because you look at it even from an inch away and, you know — I’m not at all comfortable with that assumption. I think it’s odious. And I also think it’s dangerous, and I don’t want to see it perpetuated into the next century. I think it’s better if we encourage our great creative minds to live.
Great talk. Don’t miss her profile of Tom Waits.