A man of genius…is a spring in which there is always more behind than flows from it.’ James Froude.
In this day of ‘all must have prizes, and ‘all are equal born’ genius sits uncomfortably; a challenge to everything that the democracy of equality seeks to foster, in education, in law, in ‘human rights’ and in appropriate ‘tolerance’. Part revered, part resented genius has led the human cavalcade in science, in art and music. Yet it remains a kind of orphan of thinking, capricious, unpredictable and therefore without a general or deeper significance. The gift is believed a matter of luck.
For me genius is the single phenomenon that throws a vivid lens on the fallacies in understanding. More than half the world believes in reincarnation, and past life memory, (when dug out from the deeply buried) the gradual ascent through trials and vicissitudes of spiritual advancement. Karma is seen as a deeper democracy, the correction to unequal birth by sampling the smorgasbord of different circumstances, until exhausted by the imprisonment in matter the soul ascends to Elysium. Whatever that might be.
My recent virtual encounter with the extraordinary child that is Alma Deutscher has refocused attention on this whole question.
As an introduction this interview on Zeitgeist gives a portrait of not only the truth of the quotation from Froude (above) but should be followed by taking the time to watch this ten year old’s opera ‘Cinderella’. Not merely for the music and its orchestration, but the intuitive sense of drama, character, humour and the mind-blowing naturalness of the composer in a shift and bare feet wandering about the stage playing both violin and piano when judged necessary, and generally making sure the performance goes as it should. This is a maestro who knows exactly who she is.
Both Act One and Two are available here
This composer has absorbed the idioms of Mozart, Schubert, fragments of Brahms, moments of Beethoven and Bach and, like any new linguist, shapes familiar language to express new ideas. I am sure there will be the destructive critic who will dismiss her work as past its sell-by date ( too melodic, too structured in the past forms- rondos, variations, quartets etc) but perhaps her message lies beyond music altogether. Perhaps she has come to force us to confront the legacy of genius and what it contributes to memory. It remains intact, and those endowed with access to it are a mirror about the nature of reality itself.
Perhaps genius is the artesian well through which a field, the pressure of consciousness comes to the surface. To refresh our access to the universal memory of which we are, each, a part and far from equal in our access to it.
When I wrote Involution- An Odyssey I included what I knew would raise hackles, the supposition that not only the spiritual Bodhisattva ( who returns voluntarily to raise our collective game) but that the gifted genius arrives with his/her gifts intact. Memory. I went further and leapt for an idea that the gifted genius returns to the world in which that gift is recognised, and fostered. Here is the relevant passage from Canto the Ninth.
In the words of the serpent DNA
If I am the waxen plate,
A palimpsest of lives…
Impressed by narratives I’m told
To match the soul with parentage—
The hybrid of arriving past
I assign to future—
My homespun stripes speak dialects,
Kinship written on calling cards
Each according to their scripture…
The child is father to the man, each ensures
The safeguards to their hungers…
The correction of residual crimes…
The denial of appetites outgrown…
The shaping of their talents
Offers incense to the brazier burning
On the altar of mankind.
Each soul is one immortal whole
(Its energy vibration)
Particulate in its liberty
To choose what has been chosen:
The dynasties within the arts,
The families treading Shakespeare’s boards,
Cremona’s lines of luthiers,
The homing pigeons returning home
To exhaust their passions…
(Ardour is not infectious
Nor art sufficiently paid
To fake a false conviction.
The soul, passionate intrinsically,
Burns steady and sustained)
Precocious early limber child
Seeks guided incarnation;
Leopold Mozart, so reviled,
(As Commendatore immortalized)
Without both his virtues and his vices
(Esteeming the gift but shaving its glitter)
Would Amadeus, born instead to a putz-mädchen,
Have survived? Or offered man a note?
Or too many, in desperation?
I can only say that this encounter ( for which I have to thank Margo’s blog for setting my nose on the track via Amira the extraordinary singer) has revived me from a near bottomless despair. Alma refuses to be Mozart, but it is possible she once was. Given his tragic life and more tragic death I would like to think she has come to finish what he never could. In her own way.
It begs many questions about everything but I don’t intend to ask those today, just to glory in the confirmation that the collective nature of consciousness might continue its appeal. We are therefore not entirely beyond hope. One child can rescue us. That was the essence of Yeshua, was it not?