The “commercialization and vulgarization of genius”

I recall Hannah Arendt’s phrase whenever someone is described as a “genius.” In fact, their claim to fame is their claim to fame…and nothing else.

We have so many celebrities with few (if any) talents except for self-promotion.

According to all reputable dictionaries, a genius is a person who has a high level of talent or intelligence that is very rare or exceptional. Albert Einstein immediately comes to mind. His annus mirabilis had arrived in 1905 when, as an obscure twenty-six-year-old patent clerk working in the cobbled Swiss capital of Bern, he had produced four papers on separate subjects, any one of which would have represented a significant lifetime’s achievement.

According to Darron McMahon in Divine Fury: A History of Genius, “Here was a pioneering work further explaining the existence and behavior of atoms. Here was the theory of special relativity, and posited the constancy of the speed of light and the dilation of time. Here was work on the photoelectric effect, analyzing light as both particle and wave for which hed was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1921. And here, finally, was the paper detailing the equivalence of energy and matter, which contained the basis (thought not the derivation itself) of the famous equation [E=mc2].”

Keep all this mind when you next encounter — and you will encounter again — the “commercialization and vulgarization of genius.”

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