“A genius is someone who shoots at something that no one else can see…and hits it.”

One of my writer friends recently put out a call on Facebook asking for the names of creative geniuses, historical and/or contemporary, I am guessing for a project she is working on. People chimed in with all manner of suggestions — some DEAD-ON and some positively inexplicable. It made me stop and consider what the oft-used (and misused) word, “genius” really means. What exactly is a “genius”?

For me, a genius is someone who takes my breath away with their natural talent — who takes the top of my fucking head off with their brilliance. Someone who comes into this world already brandishing that unknowable, unnameable IT. Someone whose lustre and illumination CANNOT BE DENIED.

True genius is a rare commodity, and to encounter it is an exhilarating experience. How does one recognize genius? As was once said by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart (about pornography): …”It’s difficult to define…BUT I KNOW IT WHEN I SEE IT.”

And I do.

After pondering the concept for a bit, here is a list of some of those humans I believe to be, or have been, not only extraordinary…but actually FUCKING GENIUS:

Anne Sexton

Charlie Parker

Truman Capote

Madeline Kahn

Doug Kenney

Mel Brooks

Michael Jackson

Louis CK

Meryl Streep

Charlie Chaplin

Elsa Schiaparelli

Richard Pryor

Geoffrey Chaucer

Bill Murray

Muhammad Ali

Ricky Gervais

Mary Blair

David Foster Wallace

Judy Garland

As for me, though I have known countless brilliant creatives in my life — in fact, I am blissfully surrounded by them at all times — I have only personally known one whom I consider to be an actual creative genius…and of this, there is NO QUESTION:

Jackie Beat

About muffybolding

Muffy Bolding is a mother/writer/actor/knitter/feminist/withered debutante who likes the smell of asparagus pee, and remains obsessed with the bathroom hygiene of her three children -- despite the fact that they are 23, 19, and 16. She is blissfully married to a cute Jewish boy who looks like Willie Wonka, but remains tragically in love with the dead poet, Ted Hughes. She has the mouth of a Teamster, and her patron saint is Rocco (pestilence relief.) Ms. Bolding lives in Southern California, where she enjoys typing words, making movies, and plucking the rings from the fingers of the dead. She was the co-creator and Editor-in-Chief of the award winning satire zine, Fresno Lampoon, and in between writing screenplays, carnival barking, and savagely threatening her trio of darling larvae with a wooden spoon, she currently publishes the zine, "Withered Debutante." More of her work can also be found in the anthology, "Mamaphonic: Balancing Motherhood and Other Creative Acts", the compilation zine, "Mamaphiles III: Coming Home", as well as in The Cortland Review and She is currently writing and producing for film and television, and working on a book of essays entitled, "Inside A Chinese Dragon." She has slept around, but not nearly as much as she would have liked.
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4 Responses to genius

  1. I have an ongoing list of people saved in my phone that I have titled “inspirations” and I guess it is pretty much the same.

    Can I nominate Thelma Ritter to your list?

  2. muffybolding says:

    oh, my god…YES! my friends and i WORSHIP miss thelma ritter, scottie! i adore her!

  3. Hollis Leland says:

    Always thrilled to see Doug Kenney recognized anywhere, but as a genius as well? How incredibly insightful. And true. I really wish he had stuck around.

  4. Jackie Beat says:

    This is just too sweet! Thank you.

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