Living in the Shadow of a Genius

Living in the Shadow 222

What would the world be like, if all gifts and talents were shared equally. A Utopian world of matching talents… A world in which all spoke with the wit and eloquence of Oscar Wilde. All had the calm of Buddha. Could sing with voice of Aretha Franklin, Bjork, Kate Bush, or perhaps Elvis Presley, or Luciano Pavarotti, Frank Sinatra, or whichever singer you deem great…Could dance like Mikhail Baryshnikov, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Margot Fonteyn, Vaslav Nijinsky, Josephine Baker, Rudolf Nureyev or “Pina” Bausch. Could draw like Leonardo De Vinci or MichaelAngelo, or depending on your taste Picasso. Could run as fast as Usain Bolt. Have the brain Einstein. Write a piece of music as powerful as that of Carl Orff: Carmina Burana, or Tchaikovsky, Mahler and Brahms.

But no…we are all blessed with a variety of different talents, at different levels. “God” does not bestow talents far and wide, only the lucky few are blessed…and the rest of us can only admire with awe…or perhaps curse our luck…

I was really impressed by Amadeus, a film directed by Miloš Forman, written by Peter Shaffer. Two men (different ages) go down the same path, of being musicians. We can say that the Antonio Salieri character, is by most people’s standards a reasonably talented musician, the trouble is he has to coexist in a world of Mozart…this prodigy who has this natural talent and to put it crudely the “X factor”. Salieri is crushed into mediocrity by the looming shadow and pure talent and glaring genius of Mozart.

In my story “Slashed” I write about two brothers. One is a genius painter (a Leonardo type figure) the other is rather like Salieri, left behind in the wake of his looming shadow. The genius brother is simply called “Maestro”. The brother Constanzi arrives by chance drunk at Maestro’s studio and forces his way in. He is stunned by the brilliance of the work of his brother, which is about to be shipped off for a major exhibition, his brother’s name on the verge of being cemented in immortality… Constanzi then goes on a rampant wave of Art vandalism, pouring paint, dubbing graffiti…slashing works…It is not puerile vandalism…it is laced with revenge…but I also imagine him conducting himself like Jackson Pollock…there is elements of creativity…be it in a style that does not exist in the epoch the story is pertains to. The two brothers are both painters, but one has been given an incredible gift, the other the far lesser light is prone to be accused of living off the coat tails of his eminent brother and has little chance of flourishing, whatever he does. Constanzi’s destruction is a way of cleansing all the pain and hurt he has experienced over the years.
Here is a short exert from the story…as Constanzi enters his brother’s studio.
Even drunk, and in the gloomy light, the works looked
magnificent, more so than the few people who’d been privy to see
them claimed.
Swaying back and forth, he marveled at the way hundreds of jars
of pigment were meticulously laid out each according to hue. In front
of the jars were rows and rows of brushes arranged in descending
thickness. Unlike his, this studio was impeccably organized. He
mumbled something unintelligible, and listened to it echo throughout
the room. This studio felt more like a mausoleum, or, at the least, a
sacred space, leaving him feeling small and unimportant.
Unimportant? He’d show everyone he was far from being unimportant,
his inebriated mind screamed.

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