Genius & Dreamers. The Yin and the Yang. The Yes and the No. The Up and the Downs, the Roof and the Basement.
So, this very cool writer named Jonathon Carroll in one of his books titled ” Outside the Dog Museum” says This about genius:
“Geniuses are allowed to do anything. Picasso was a big prick. Beethoven never emptied his chamber pot, and Frank Lloyd Wright stole as much money from his clients as any good thief. But it was all okay because they were all “geniuses”. He goes on to say that “genius is a boat that sails itself”.
Braque said that “ones style -it is in a way ones inability to do otherwise…. Your physical constitution practically determines the shape of the brush marks.”
“Bullshit on all that artistic suffering, “agonizing” over the empty page….. Canvas”
Anyone who agonizes isn’t a genius is an idiot! Carroll goes on to say.
And there you go.
There it is.
Could that be because dreams, are the genesis of art in its multi forms? And dreams don’t involve agonizing or forcing, they just are, like the rose petals unfold, a natural process, like nature shows us, from the caterpillar evolving into the butterfly, to the bumble bee giving us honey, to the sun drenched grapes on the vine providing us with wine in the glass. They just happen. Because they are supposed to.
Geniuses always seem to just BE. Creation is easy and they just Have IT covered! Is it because the “geniuses” make their dreams reality and treat them as such, without the wake up process that most people experience? Or are certain individuals just inordinately blessed, hit the jackpot, were given that bonus coupon, the extra gift that makes them fly, surpassing the rest of us ordinary mortals?
Most of the greats the Rimbauds, the Van Goghs, Kerouac, Hemingway, Mapplethorpe, were intense dreamers, whose dream – reality state was seamless. A unit. They all knew who they were, what they wanted, and where they were going! Dreams are infinite. They are timeless, with out restrictions or human boundaries, free – fall experiences of the mind, and could it be that “geniuses” accept that idea, live it without questions asked, and thus accomplish supernatural things that mere mortals cannot comprehend?
The French writer, a genius so to speak, Cocteau, in his journals says:
” Then I realized that my dream life was as full of memories as my real life, that it WAS a real life, denser, richer in episodes and in details of all kinds, more precise in fact, and that it was difficult for meto locate my memories in one world or another , that they were superimposed, combined, and creating a double life for me, twice as huge and twice as long as my own”
That’s pretty heavy stuff. His dream life was more real than his so-called real life.
One wonders. Is this true? Who knows? I don’t. Do you?
Where does creativity come from? The dream world is certainly a prime originator of all creative genius. The “Songs of Innocence and Experience”, William Blake’s masterpiece, is essential dream material, as is most of his work, his Dragon series, his mystical dreamy, other world visions translated unto his poetry and artwork as a harmonious symmetry of passionate self expression give us his dreams coming to live on the page.
Blake’s work is the substance of genius no doubt, and breaks through that magical world, the genius spirit taps into, entertains, envelops, and encourages. “I must create my own system or be enslaved by another’s” was Blake’s fundamental goal.
Are you a dreamer? Or are you firmly rooted in the real world? You know WHO you are. But do you know WHERE you Really are?
Are you thinking of your 9-5 humdrum rat race experience, or are you mentally swimming in the ocean of the I don’t know what, but it isn’t THIS!
Patti Smith, in her epic biography, ” Just Kids “, describes her starving days, with Robert Mapplethorpe, freshly fired from their respective bookseller jobs, persevering in their creative goals, aka LIFE, freezing, broke, hungry, in their Lower East Side walk up, pushed to the max, energy pumped by dreams, youth, and that indescribable “IT” factor that makes certain stars shine brighter in the sky!
Joseph Cornell, the “Master of Dreams” was a dream maker incarnate toiling away in his mothers utopia parkway kitchen on his magnificent dream boxes , the world outside a blur, his inner world manifested within these surreal boxes germinating in his unique and fantastic MIND!
These geniuses, some born, others made, believed in their dreams! Nothing was getting in the way! The yellow caution light was blinking but dreamers don’t slow down, they just drive faster through it and beyond to the green light signaling GO GO GO!
So when I look at Blake’s engraving of “Jacob’s Ladder”, or “The Ancient of Days”, I have no doubt that he was tapped in, connected to the dream world inspiring and guiding him on his artistic path. His images came from his spiritual, other world reality far removed from the gritty ugly, Dickensonian London cityscape he was dwelling in at time, late 1700’s -1800’s. His interior world transported him out of his exterior world. Lucky!
Living in the Material World. George Harrison talks about “drowning in the material world”, that he has a lot to do to get out of this place, and he does it by dreaming himself out. Aerosmith tells us to “Dream On”, Fleetwood Mac in their “Dreams” tells us that when the rain washes it all away then we see the visions, which set us straight, and many more musicians sing the dream theme, because it’s a popular and powerful message.
Several years ago, in NYC, The New York Public Library produced a fantastic exhibit on Jack Kerouac’s writings. During my visit, I was amazed by the extensive collection of dreams and visions that Kerouac documented in his personal journals and sketchbooks, diaries, and stories. Mysticism, Buddhism, Beatism, other world experiences, and (yes he was a victim of alcoholism ), which took him to the “other side ” sooner rather than later, but his dreams pushed him into his destiny as a “Beat” Writer ,an icon , a representative of the NY literary cultural dream team along with Alan Ginsberg, Bill Burroughs, Diane DiPrima, Gregory Corsco , Hettie and LeRoi Jones! Kerouac, definitely a dream inspired man On the Road! Death could not stop him. His dream lives on!
Genius mentality can be found in any profession from the scientist to the chef, to the mechanic, to the writer, to the landscaper, it is all about taking the dreams and making them real. It’s about the ones who believe in their dreams as serious goals, life blood, veins of gold , and pursue them. The rest of the world calls them geniuses. The dream weavers incarnate. The surrealists, the Project Runway contestants, the Chopped contestants, the walking dreamers. They all move towards the endgame, the dream dust the oxygen they inhale every moment of every day.
” Dreaming is an art of pure imagination, attesting in man a creative power, which if it was available in the waking world would make every man a Shakespeare or a Dante”
Thoreau whose dream was to retreat in solitude at Walden Pond, and write about his experiences, tapped into his dream power, making his dreams reality! We can read all about it in ” Walden”, a must for every high school student for the past 60 years.
Cocteau did it all as novelist, poet, dramatist, filmmaker, said ” one of the characteristics of the dream is that nothing surprises us in it. With no regret we agree to live in it with strangers, completely cut off from our habits and our friends.” Like Thoreau he identified the dream life with solitude. While a fertile ground for creative growth the genius often survives in isolation living the “dream” apart from the world around him.
Diane Arbus, Georgia O’Keefe, George Sand, Colette, Piaf, Suzanne Valladon, Sylvia Beach, Simone de Beauvoir, Freida Kahlo, Sylvia Plath, these women were proof of this identifying quality, living off the grid, pursuing their dreams, often without social encouragement or recognition. Dreaming is gender oblivious. You are or you are not. You Do or you Don’t.
There are an infinite number of examples where dreams are pivotal in the lives of geniuses and creatives throughout time. That tells me that you can’t have one without the other. It’s a tandem experience. It’s the apple pie a la mode, the wine and cheese, the Billie Holiday and gardenias, the Kerouac and Cassidy, the Frieda and Diego , the genius -dream duo is a made to order duality of creative energy and inspiration propelling certain individuals into the stratosphere where dreaming becomes reality and gives the world a special experience unique, valuable and timeless! The bicycle built for two!
Webster defines dreams as: ” a conception or image created by the imagination and having no objective reality. ”
“Dream On”. We’ve all heard that at one time or another, meant to dismiss and demean. When actually it should be used to encourage and enlighten. Dream On. Are you kidding? Dream on. I kid you not.
When Dorothy saw OZ she knew she wasn’t in Kansas anymore! She had a dream that became reality, or was her reality the dream? This is the question of the ages, the one that the dreamers accept, thriving in the OZ of their own making , that world of imagination and fantasy, spinning dreams into reality, birthing geniuses, creating art in its many dimensions and forms, inspiring, sharing, and blessing lives into infinity!
Dream On. Keep dreaming. What? You must be dreaming? YES! YES! And again YES!
No – Dorothy you’re NOT in Kansas anymore.