A cliché almost as common as the Parable of the Phone Call in genius journalism is what we might call the Delirious Apprehension of the Eclectic, in which the writer is simply amazed by the overwhelming diversity of the fields that have been honored. “They’re historians and scientists and one of them is a stringed-instrument bow maker,” as a gee-whiz NPR story from 2012 had it. “A neurologist who studies dementia. A jazz drummer who celebrates Latin rhythm. A remedial-reading teacher who writes poetry,” begins a Chicago Tribune account from 2011. And were those geniuses somehow to get together in one place—wow! Thomas Frank on the MacArthur "genius" grants.
"What a bizarre day. I'm sitting here watching my email fill up with message after message from people from so many different times and places of my life, all congratulating me for the astonishing good fortune of receiving a MacArthur Fellowship. Not to mention a flurry of texts and tweets, and I haven't had the energy to even look at Facebook." Cartoonist and Graphic Memoirist Alison Bechdel (previously on MetaFilter: 1, 2, 3, 4) has won the prestigious MacArthur Genuis grant, giving her the opportunity to dig into her archives for a previous comic she drew in 2004 to conclude her reaction blog post. [more inside]
Reginald Robinson won a MacArthur Fellowship grant in 2004 for his original ragtime compositions, but has found it difficult to reach the public. "Even with the MacArthur 'genius' title … I'm invisible." [more inside]
MacArthur "genius" grant winner Samuel "Sambo" Mockbee didn't make it to 2002. His Rural Studio built beautiful, amazing houses for poor people.