Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bullshit or Not: James Joyce Edition

There's an old sketch film called Amazon Women on the Moon and one of the bits is a parody of the old Leonard Nimoy show, "In Search Of..." called, "Bullshit or Not?" with the tagline "Bullshit or not? You decide." It's a line I like so much that I've stolen it for an irregular series of posts.

On Saint Patrick's Day, it seems appropriate to pull a quotation for discussion from one of Ireland's greatest minds, James Joyce. Here's the quotation:

"Saying that a great genius is mad, while at the same time recognizing his artistic worth, is like saying that he had rheumatism or suffered from diabetes. Madness, in fact, is a medical term that can claim no more notice from the objective critic than he grants the charge of heresy raised by the theologian, or the charge of immorality raised by the police."
Is the notion of the mad genius just a fiction? Is it something we've dreamt up to make the great seem flawed for precisely what makes them superior, thereby protecting ourselves in our mediocrity? Or was Aristotle right that "There was never a genius without a tincture of madness"?

So, bullshit or not? You decide. As usual, feel free to leave anything from a one word comment to a dissertation.