Genius is being used a little loosely here
April 22, 2011 12:01 PM   Subscribe

How Genius Works. The Atlantic asks artists like T.C. Boyle, Tim Burton, Paul Simon, and Frank Gehry (and others who aren't so well-known) to describe their creative process.
posted by helloknitty (68 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Someone appears to be missing here, I can't think who right now, but I understand it's hard to hide genius, so I'm sure I'll remember soon. HAMBURGER
posted by Mooski at 12:04 PM on April 22, 2011


Hi, Scott Adams!
posted by ericb at 12:05 PM on April 22, 2011 [12 favorites]


It's like you can go forever without hearing the damn word, then it won't go away.
posted by defenestration at 12:07 PM on April 22, 2011


The Paul Simon one doesn't even mention Los Lobos. Lame.
posted by The World Famous at 12:08 PM on April 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


I hate them for their success.
posted by TrialByMedia at 12:13 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Scott Adams.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:13 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am amazed at how many of the first comments are in-jokes. Pretty soon we'll all be speaking on our own language entirely, like twins and people raised by wolves do.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:13 PM on April 22, 2011 [12 favorites]


Pretty soon we'll all be speaking on our own language entirely, like twins and people raised by wolves do.

FIAMO, bean-plater.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:18 PM on April 22, 2011 [17 favorites]


Ol' Rhymin' Simon looks mighty pleased with himself. "Genius? Why, yes. Thanks for asking, The Atlantic."
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:20 PM on April 22, 2011


Pretty soon we'll all be speaking on our own language entirely, like twins and people raised by wolves do.

.
posted by found missing at 12:21 PM on April 22, 2011


The Atlantic asks artists like T.C. Boyle, Tim Burton, Paul Simon, and Frank Gehry

*heavy sigh*
posted by jinjo at 12:22 PM on April 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


typing just the same thing jinjo.
posted by clavdivs at 12:26 PM on April 22, 2011


willy wonka, enough said.
posted by clavdivs at 12:27 PM on April 22, 2011


Yeah, Tim Burton has made some fairly entertaining movies, and one good one (Ed Wood), but genius?
posted by Huck500 at 12:30 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Perhaps we should view Burton's inclusion as an illustration of the transient nature of genius?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:32 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, I remember a few years ago, The Atlantic moved out of Boston, to D.C., to be closer to power. I had noticed a nasty note moving into its book reviews, and I recall an increasing number of essays saying, essentially, "We have to support Bush. We're at war."

A-ha. Wikipedia describes the current owner as 'Bradley, who has described himself as "a neocon guy"'.

Yup, it's over. Good-bye, Atlantic. I remember you as the magazine that serious grown-ups read. Glad I got to enjoy the tail-end of your glory years. Enjoy fighting Popular Psychology for audience.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:35 PM on April 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


You know who else was a genius? That's right: Oliver Hirschbiegel.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:43 PM on April 22, 2011


I'm sure their creative process doesn't have anything to do with loading and reloading Metafilter all day long. OR World of Warcraft.
posted by crunchland at 12:44 PM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


real geniuses don't work - they have other people email them anecdotes they can turn into ... well, stuff
posted by pyramid termite at 12:47 PM on April 22, 2011


Q: What does Tim Burton put in his sandwiches?
A: Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 12:51 PM on April 22, 2011 [18 favorites]


Q: What does Tim Burton put in his sandwiches?
A: Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter.


I'm not sure if that's a sex joke or not.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:53 PM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure if that's a sex joke or not.

Everything is a sex joke. Everything.
posted by The World Famous at 12:57 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Q: What do you call a Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter sandwich?
A: Grilled cheese on rye.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:57 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wry indeed.
posted by hippybear at 1:01 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can call me Hal
posted by hal9k at 1:03 PM on April 22, 2011


Fiasco's was kind of weak, I thought. But maybe that's because of the few I clicked, these ideas are not new to me, and not even especially creative (whereas the fashion and restaurant pieces were somewhat foreign to me and involved things I wouldn't have thought of).
posted by cashman at 1:06 PM on April 22, 2011


Apparently women can only be geniuses in collaboration?
posted by jokeefe at 1:08 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I didn't mind WW too much myself. I didn't agree with the Add Human Foibles approach; characters like Wonka need to be the eye of their own storm and nothing else - but it fit well in the tradition of twists on well-known stories. Alice in Wonderland did me in, though. The whole emotional point of AiW isn't the OMG WEIRDYAY, and it certainly isn't about heroism and being true to yourself or whatever (I didn't see it). It's the irony and tension of all these utterly unpleasant basket cases telling her she's the one who's rude, stupid, etc. - and having to accept it from a position of powerlessness and play along to get anywhere. I'm not looking for a cinematic thesis on metaphors of pessimism about the transition from child to adult (especially in females when seen from the outside (especially by Carroll)), but to miss that completely... I don't know what to say.
posted by jinjo at 1:13 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Tim Burton has made some fairly entertaining movies, and one good one (Ed Wood), but genius?

Big Fish.
posted by reductiondesign at 1:14 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Edward Penishands
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:16 PM on April 22, 2011


You're all heaping this shit on Burton when Frank Gehry has weighed in?

Quite often, the first sketches are incredibly, uncannily close to the final building—I don’t understand that, really.

Me either.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 1:23 PM on April 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Thorzdad: Perhaps we should view Burton's inclusion as an illustration of the transient nature of genius?
I assume you mean transient here as in the rail-hopping, trash-can fire warming, sleep under the bridge kind? Cause yeah, I can buy that.
posted by hincandenza at 1:25 PM on April 22, 2011


Paul Simon's process: erase the part that says "Ladysmith Black Mambazo," write own name.
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 1:28 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Apparently women can only be geniuses in collaboration?

Paul Simon is a man, man.
posted by The World Famous at 1:30 PM on April 22, 2011


[Tim Burton] explains where he drew inspiration to bring the characters from Alice in Wonderland to the big screen

Are you fucking kidding me?

1) Use the character names and depictions from Carroll and Tenniel
2) Discard all the writing, replace with agonizingly, embarrassingly trite Hollywood hero formula

Now, which bit of that was genius or inspiration? I keep looking and I keep missing it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:40 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


By hell, the bar for what constitutes genius surely has lowered a tadge since the days of Da Vinci and Newton.
posted by Decani at 1:40 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yep. Just like every stage performance demands a standing ovation these days.
posted by crunchland at 1:53 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I blame favorites.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:53 PM on April 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


Related.
posted by mingo_clambake at 2:07 PM on April 22, 2011


My creative process? It's pretty simple really; I take the problem I'm trying to address, say, coming up with a new slogan for an incentive program in my department, and the first thing I do is clear my head, then I drink about half a bottle of bourbon, snort some lines of powdered glass, you know, just to get to my creative place, then it's time to get to business. I jump into the giant tank I keep for the purpose and battle for about a half an hour with the colossal squid, then before my wounds have time to heal, I roll around in a large vat of lemon juice. After screaming for maybe twenty minutes straight, I like to wander around my basement dressed as a sad clown with a silenced pistol in the dark randomly shooting "the idea stealing demons" I'm invariably seeing at that point.

Then, I have to start documenting all my ideas, so out come the slabs of marble and the chisels, because I hate it when brainstorming when someone says, "none of this is carved in stone..." Fuck that! yes it is! and then there is the bit with the chicken and the grandfather clock...

But no, I'm not going to give away the whole process.

Of course, no one has ever called me a "genius" but I like to think that I walk close to that thin line every once in a while from the other side.
posted by quin at 2:08 PM on April 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


The standing ovations are part of the Full Theater Night Out experience for which the customers are paying.
posted by Rat Spatula at 2:08 PM on April 22, 2011


I reserve my standing ovations for Sarah Vowell. Everybody else can just get over themselves.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:14 PM on April 22, 2011


I do believe Burton is a brilliant person, the musical contraption in WW was pure delight. Ed Wood was fantastic, Landau- Depp, pure brillance.
posted by clavdivs at 2:14 PM on April 22, 2011


Big Fish.

It might have been my expectations, but I was disappointed by Big Fish.

Thinking of films I think might be works of genius, like 2001 or Children of Men, they elicit emotions or reactions that have nothing to do with the fact that I'm watching a film, that I might feel looking at (non-filmed) art or listening to music, or just experiencing life. They transcend the medium.

As disappointing as something like Alice in Wonderland or Planet of the Apes was, he's made some good movies, and I own a few of them, so I think he's a talented guy... just not a genius.
posted by Huck500 at 2:31 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apparently women can only be geniuses in collaboration?

Paul Simon is a man, man


Your point, I am unsure of it.
posted by jokeefe at 2:50 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have always wondered how much my disdain for Frank Gehry was just resentment. I suppose I should admire him for the same reason we should admire Madonna. A truly craptastic artist, gifted with an incredible talent for media manipulation.
posted by Xoebe at 2:53 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apparently women can only be geniuses in collaboration?

Paul Simon is a man, man

Your point, I am unsure of it.


Sorry, I assumed you were referring to that particular person who can only be a genius in collaboration.

But really, is anyone truly a genius without collaboration?
posted by The World Famous at 2:56 PM on April 22, 2011


Per-Wee's Big Adventure was a pretty phenomenal feature debut.
posted by item at 2:58 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


...since we're talking Burton.
posted by item at 2:59 PM on April 22, 2011


Yeah, I think Pee-Wee's Big Adventure is genius territory, for sure.
posted by The World Famous at 3:00 PM on April 22, 2011


heh:

Related Posts
How We Kill Geniuses February 6, 2009
posted by item at 3:03 PM on April 22, 2011


Thinking of films I think might be works of genius, like 2001 or Children of Men

Yes, and I'd add Hot Tub Time Machine.
posted by found missing at 3:11 PM on April 22, 2011


Yeah, I was say Pee-Wee is genius. Also: Mars Attacks!
posted by brundlefly at 3:31 PM on April 22, 2011


Right. OK. Fun as it is to spool up the Your-Favorite-Atlantic-"Genius"-Sucks jokes, what would be truly fascinating would be to do a review of the creative processes of reputed "geniuses" and line them up against people regarded as more pedestrian artists, or artisans, in a given field. Maybe it would be hard to get people to sign up for group #2; maybe it would be considered insulting. But I'll bet you could do it.

I wonder if the sets would actually look any different? I mean, assuming we rule out singers who can't even hold a tune and writers who can only turn out crapulent fanfic, and just look at "regular / good" artists vs. "outstanding" ones. To what extent is genius just a matter of luck and timing? Does it just depend on critical reception? Do geniuses mostly have the same kind of insights, but stay up later or try harder? Or do they really have these fantastically out-there thought processes?

That would be an interesting article. This is not that article.
posted by rkent at 5:33 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is not that article.

It is if you disagree with the Atlantic's characterization of at least some of the subjects as "geniuses."
posted by The World Famous at 5:36 PM on April 22, 2011


Yes, and I'd add Hot Tub Time Machine.

I actually enjoyed the hell out of that movie... I was pretty drunk, though.
posted by Huck500 at 6:38 PM on April 22, 2011


This is not the Age of Geniuses.
posted by kozad at 10:17 PM on April 22, 2011


Tim Burton: brilliant visual artist and designer, even a genius. His movies are at the mercy of his inability to distinguish good versus bad plot, pacing, or motivation and his moth-like attraction to anything that gestures towards intense feeling.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:43 PM on April 22, 2011


I was disappointed by Big Fish.

i couldn't get past Albert Finney's* lame "southern" accent.

*normally a fine actor, but woefully miscast there
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:13 AM on April 23, 2011


From Paul Simon's The Dangling Conversation:

And you read your Emily Dickinson,
And I my Robert Frost,
And we note our place with bookmarkers
That measure what we've lost.


I can see how a writer for The Atlantic might characterize that as genius. Perhaps said writer can, in turn, see how I might characterize that as insufferably and embarrassingly pretentious drivel.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:26 AM on April 23, 2011


I do loves me some Ben Katchor, though.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:27 AM on April 23, 2011


Q: What do you call a Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter sandwich?
A: Grilled cheese on rye.


Ham and cheese on rye, surely?
posted by IndigoJones at 7:54 AM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


They may as well have walked down main street and asked the first four people they ran into. The "genius" described by their selection of interviewees is essentially creative ego with a large following. Not that their work isn't entertaining but it's not transcendent nor does it redefine their respective genres. Look at these guys and compare them with Beethoven or Mozart (or Frank Lloyd Wright or Bob Dylan or Shakespeare), they are unique voices but they are not really breaking new ground.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:53 AM on April 23, 2011


Pretty soon we'll all be speaking on our own language entirely, like twins and people raised by wolves do.

Were you thinking of them?
posted by ersatz at 10:49 AM on April 23, 2011


It might have been my expectations, but I was disappointed by Big Fish.

I thought that movie was execrable, overblown, hyper-sentimental garbage. It almost gave me diabetes. It was nearly as rank and nauseating as AI.
posted by Decani at 2:05 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate them for their success.
posted by TrialByMedia at 8:13 PM on April 22


I can assure you that I never hate people for their success. I hate them for entirely different reasons. See, Radiohead are massively successful, but I don't hate them. Lady Gaga is also massively successful and I hate her with a passion that almost makes me put down my cigar and kick the wall. Almost.

I'm sure some people do hate success, but it's a lazy and unjust dismissal to suggest that this is generally the case when people slag someone off.
posted by Decani at 2:10 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate Decani for his success. Or his freedoms, I forget which.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:36 PM on April 23, 2011


I hate Decani for his success. Or his freedoms, I forget which.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:36 AM on April 24


I am neither successful nor free. Therefore you love me, you fortunate beast
posted by Decani at 2:37 PM on May 5, 2011


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