Flawed Genius

Flawed Genius

Flawed geniuses 2

How often do you read or hear about a flawed genius ? They have drug problems, commonly drink problems, or perhaps a penchant for young women, who have the same age as their youngest daughters or maybe a self-destructive streak. You might admire their talent, the sheer brilliance of the work, but as people they are simply awful. People of a certain age would have grown up with the films of Peter Sellers. There was the brilliant actor, who could conjure up all manner of characters, and then there was the man, with an over-sized ego, married four times, in a constant search for happiness, a troubled soul. The person who seems to have suffered from his father’s volatility was his son Michael…on one occasion Seller’s arrived where young Michael was sleeping at three o’clock in the morning, stirring his son from sleep, before demanding “Do you think I should divorce your mummy?”. I remember a scene in the film “The life and death of Peter Sellers” his fit of anger when young Michael damaged his car, he went about smashing all of his young son’s toys, like a spiteful child, on a revenge mission. It is little wonder Michael says of his father…”I used to be scared stiff of him.”

From my time at Art College, I have always admired the paintings of Jackson Pollock, (ok perhaps not a genius to some but a painter, who bore the title “America’s greatest living painter” ). I particularly liked the work, prior to his famous “drip paintings”. The paintings are one thing, the man another matter. Obviously he was a tortured soul, his psychiatrist remaking about his condition ‘a certain schizoid disposition underlying the instability’. Alcohol brought the worst out in him making him aggressive. Pollock’s self-destruction came to a head, with his death, a drink driving accident, in which another passenger Edith Metzger also perished. So were a talking about a man with a death on his hands, due to his sheer recklessness…two unnecessary deaths, one that of a young woman.

Dickens may have championed the poor and downtrodden, but as a man…he left his wife (who bore him no less than ten children) for an eighteen year old actress…He literally threw his wife out and split up the family. When one of his sons died, he chose not to inform his wife, of his demise…yes this man obviously had a cruel streak.

Apparently Dickens was obsessive about writing and wife and family were duly left on the wayside. It can’t be easy being married to any genius. Like Peter Sellers, being part of the Dickens’ brood was hard and severe.

One of my characters in my book Flight of Destiny,”Maestro” is a “genius” a painter, who has a considerable family of five. He has a long suffering wife and he “takes” as he wishes the virginity of young girls, including the betrothed of his long suffering brother…the one bright light in his life. Because he is such a genius painter, perhaps he has lost sight of morality. His family reject him and despite a looming exhibition, which will bolster further his reputation, none will attend.

It was but a few days before the works were to be transported to
Rome for a major exhibition. Every art patron in Italy planned to be
present at the show. There was even talk of royalty from Portugal,
France and Spain attending. Of course, a representative of the Vatican
would be there, maybe even Pope Julius himself. There would also be
some notable absentees: Maestro’s wife and their children, including
his favorite, Faustina, who not only had developed a passion for
painting, but whose ability dangerously challenged her father’s. To
protect her daughter from her husband’s vagarities, her mother had
poisoned the girl’s mind, turning her against her father. There was no
way Maestro could give his benediction to her precocious talent, along
with any abounding ambitions, anyway.

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Killed by the Music Industry !!!


You open your door, take a few steps…waiting for you is a crowd of photographers, with cameras aimed at you, snapping away wildly, the effect of the multitude of flashes, is like strobe lights, blinding you, the noise is excruciating as well . The photographers are like hunters, tracking their prey, they have no feelings for you, they are concerned more about the photos they will be sending off to their editors and to agencies. Your security guards help to usher you to your car, as the photographers continue to circle you, hungry for more photos. Having managed to shut the door of the car, your driver manages to drive away, past the melee. This ritual is the same, day in, day out.

You arrive on stage, the crowd scream in anticipation. You have been drinking heavily, it is all you know to do to dampen your inner pain, well this as well as the cocaine, crack and heroine, you use to counter balance the demons you have been fighting , since your childhood. Rather than sing, you stagger about, the crowd become more and more agitated. The fact that you don’t burst into song, causes some whistle and hiss, previously they were showing their adulation, now they show their contempt. All those happy memories of your early gigs in front of a few hundred people are distant memories, now you have to perform in stadiums packed with fans, the gloss has worn off, you don’t want to be there…in fact you shouldn’t be there, you should be sorting out your head, trying to put some of those demons to bed. Now you are owned by other people, you have contracts to fulfil, they don’t care about you, but they love the success you are having and you are a cash cow.

Even when you are honored, at the top of your profession, something feels shallow. They want you to be clean, if you are too fucked up, you are no good for them, but at the same time they are working you like a mule.
It’s no surprise that so many talented musicians, die before they reach thirty (there is of course the 27 club, featuring Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. Amy Winehouse, also died age 27 and is subject to a controversial film. Even if you are not inspired by her music, this film makes fascinating watching, as well as being heart rendering. I wonder what was going through many people’s mind at her funeral? Had some people contributed to her downfall and death? There must have been some guilty consciences…

Like many people she had this destructive streak. If she wasn’t plying herself with drugs, it was alcohol, and her death was put down to alcohol poisoning. Why should we be sad? Every so many generations comes a singer that is exceptional, outstanding or which adjective you choose to use…Amy was one such singer. By the end her life was a circus, she had lost control.

Even in semi-conscious states Amy was put on a plane and sent out to do concerts. There is a slight “Syd and Nancy” feel about Amy and her husband Blake Fielder-Civil. In the film Blake does not across very favorably, with druggy sounding drawl. It was he, who introduced Amy to harder drugs.
Blake is Amy’s partner in this spiraling down to oblivion. Both tortured souls, both kindred spirits…
All the pain Amy has gathered in her mind also adds to her incredible creativity. There is that amazing captivating voice of hers, up with the jazz greats…but there is also the fact that she puts so much of herself into her songs.

She was incredibly volatile, when you see footage of Doors concerts you see these really long rambling solos, by the musicians, who must have wondered when Jim Morrison was going to pick up the microphone and sing. There must have been an incredible unpredictability with Amy.
Some people might live to hundred and pack a lot less than the likes of Jim Morrison or Amy Wine house. Their success ultimately played a big part in their tragic early demise. Maybe people don’t think it this way…but the music industry can kill you.

Article by Francis H Powell
Author of Flight of Destiny, 22 short stories