You know I love quotations and here’s a golden that was being bandied about the blogosphere in recent weeks…
“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.” Arthur Schopenhauer, 1788 – 1860
Fine words! Especially for the aspiring artist. Or are they?
Schopenhauer influenced a long list of thinkers including Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Erwin Schrödinger, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Otto Rank, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Mann and Jorge Luis Borges. So that’s good. Or is it?
Some of his views, particularly on women, are highly politically-incorrect… “Woman is by nature meant to obey“.
But he also said, “women are decidedly more sober in their judgment than [men] are” and “are more sympathetic to the suffering of others“. How should we read such statements made in a different time and place and culture, none of which we can ever properly understand ? And are these statements truly contradictory?
Were these comments merely products of the thinking at the time and hence can be overlooked, if not forgiven? Or are they despicable under any circumstances? These sentiments still apply in large parts of 21st century Earth.
Should we take advice from someone so “tainted”? How shiny is that original quotation, now? Should we admire and respect one thing they said, when taken out of the context of their entire body of work? Should we condemn someone for some of their works and ignore the good? Can we pick and choose?
So, if Schopenhauer started tweeting, would we, should we, could we Follow him based upon that single tweet about talent and genius?
Or should we reject his entire body of work and Unfollow?