Male Genius?


Male Genius?

I loved this post from Video meliora, partially because it gives me legitimate cause to mention Camille Paglia in a Catholic venue. (Unfortunately direct link isn't working, so you'll have to scroll down.)

Point 2: Genius as Masculine IQ tests have shown men to have a more extreme range of intelligence (or lack thereof) than women. The bell curve seems to include lots more points to the right side (i.e. geniuses) and more points to the left (dunces). And although women have not had nearly the opportunities men have in the arts, still the Joyces, Shakespeares, Dantes, Beethovens, Bachs are nearly universally male.

In Sexual Personae Ms. Paglia made a very similar argument, which, unjustly, earned her the ire of most of the feminist world. She referred to it, if I remember correctly as the Apollonian direction of the male. She seemed to imply that women held the real power--power of procreation, which was sufficient. I paraphrase here, but the ultimate conclusion was something like: "If women had been left on their own, they would still be living in grass houses." Now, she goes on to modify her point, but she essentially notes that men seem to be driven (largely as mating display and sexual impulse) to tremendous acts of creativity and destruction. To counter the genius, Ms. Paglia points out that the vast majority of serial killers, and nearly all war and incidents of mass destruction are also the property of males.

While most moments of genius appear to belong to men, feminist critics would (I think mostly rightly) attribute that to the fact that men actually had the leisure to create. (They wouldn't phrase it that way--there would probably be a great deal of bubbling diatribe about the Patriarchal Oppression). But genius is, in part, a function of leisure. To support such a claim, I would mention lady Murasaki's epic "Tale of Genji" is still regarded as one of the great novels of Japan and of Asian in general. It is, in its own way, a construction of genius by a court lady--a woman with time on her hands. Now, this is isolated and anecdotal, but it does suggest that if such leisure and education had been the universal norm in the west, we would probably see more works of genius from women. For a further discussion of this, see Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own and Three Guineas. (For that matter, see Virginia's Woolf's oeuvre, a vastly underrated, but I think highly influential body of work, only recently really brought to light. I see much more of The Waves in such proponents of stream-of-consciousness as William Faulkner than I do Ulysses).

(Let's face it, Ulysses was a one-off even for Joyce. From that point he moved into the realm of ultimate esoterica and inaccessibility--the strangely delightful and playful Finnegan's Wake. Well worth perusal in the presence of an accomplished guide. I believe Burgess produced A Shorter Finnegan's Wake and someone produced a guide called A Skeleton Key to Finnegan's Wake. Then again, you might just content yourself with Philip Jose Farmer's playful riff "Winnegan's Fake." Not particularly up to his progenitor, but amusing nonetheless. Sorry for the digression, but recently have read too many who have not been able to scale the mountain, and while I'm not quite certain if it is truly worth scaling, it has provided an infinity of fun.)

Anyway--fascinating thread of discussion. I love literature, and I love particularly the qualities of literature that reflect the creator in the created. Works well constructed offer Glory to God whether or not their authors so intend.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 2, 2002 8:43 AM.

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