Saturday, January 21, 2006


Of these three options, which would you rather be?

1. A well-loved but not-critically-acclaimed movie star, with legions of fans, incredible fortune, and a life of luxury.

2. A political genius with the power and influence to shape the path of our country, and in fact the world.

3. A brilliant artist or writer or thinker whose genius goes unrecognized in this life, but whose works resonate throughout time, like Michelangelo or Dostoevsky or Socrates.

Ok, which do you pick?

And the vision that was planted in my brain still remains


Thinking Fool said...

This is a no brainer - power to change the world. You'd still have a life of luxury if you're that powerful; thus I go with 2.

dyk said...

Why is it that I immediately associated the 'political genius' with 'corrupt' and 'manipulative?' And then pictured Karl Rove. If the political genius has the power to change the world for the better and not compromise his soul (unlikely), then number two. If not, number three.

Eric Michael Peterson said...

3, I do not want nor need fame and fortune... If I am to be well known I would take it after my death. Better to be loved by a few in life than known by the masses.

the marvelous patric said...

but how am i shaping the world? do i shape it in a way i like? and, am i just changing it for and pissing everyone else off?

well, i already am a briliant artist/writer/thinker, so i'll let that one go.

and number one would be fun for like a week, but meh. so i guess it's number 2 by default.


Ben said...

2, definitely. Making the world a better place, however marginally, is more important than being read about in the tabloids or high school Literature class.

Matthew B. Novak said...

Regardless of how awesome it might be to be rich and famous, or how awesome it might be to wield great political influence, I'd have to go with the historically significant artist/writer/thinker. I mean, the political influence is all well and good, but your influence doesn't really last beyond the issues of the day, and while you can create immediate change for the better in your time and place, that's a pretty limited time and place. Being a great artist/writer/thinker extends beyond the immediate scope. Let's face it, Dostoevsky and Socrates (and even Michelangelo to a lesser extent) have had thoughts and philosophies which extend beyond their age to our current day. They've continued to shape the thinkers of the world. And I'd rather shape limitless generations of thinkers than shape the political course of a single country in a single time-period.

Thinking Fool said...

Political influence doesn't last beyond the issues of the day? Tell that to the people who lived under what Lenin started - that was a century. What about America? That's a two hundred thirty year experiment that's working out thus far. If you're truly a political revolutionary, your ideas can last forever.

More importantly, why you showing the hate by taking down the links to other people's blogs?

Matthew B. Novak said...

I didn't say political revolutionary, I said "a political genius with the power and influence to shape the path of our country." Big difference. I'm picturing an immediately powerful but ultimately forgetable individual who is one among many directing the fate of the nation. Yeah, there's some natural lasting effect from your actions, but for all you know, that effect is that your political genius has spawned a generation of people who hate your policies and work to undercut them.

Also, there were some glitches in my site, which led to the links being erased. I quick put up one link that day to re-establish where I wanted them, and I just haven't gotten around to the rest of them. Deal with it. Any more whining and you'll be the last link replaced.

Thinking Fool said...

Actually, you wrote, "A political genius with the power and influence to shape the path of our country, and in fact the world."

Political geniuses: FDR (policies still in place decades later), Lenin (USSR lasted almost a century), Jefferson, Washington & Co. (policies not only still in effect in this country, which is the most powerful the world has ever seen, but have spread throughout much of the world as well).

So while you may picture "an immediately powerful but ultimately forgetable individual who is one among many directing the fate of the nation," you admit that there might be "some natural lasting effect from your actions," and I think if given the opportunity to shape the path of our country and the world, who cares if my policies might erode after a decade, the fact that I could shape the world that much and possibly for a very long time (see, e.g. founding fathers), that's the ticket I take. In other words, the political option of your original question carries with it a lot more power/potential than you seem to want to allow. I agree that the political ideas tenure might be very short, but it could also be quite long-lasting.

"Any more whining and you'll be the last link replaced."

If I didn't know you better, I'd say you were getting ready to bleed.

Matthew B. Novak said...

I was picturing political "geniuses" like Dewey and Humphrey and McCarthy. The revolutionaries you mention are significantly more than political geniuses. And in fact folks like Jefferson, Lenin, and FDR who have had such a lasting effect probably have their writings and speeches to credit, more than their political influence on it's own. They all transcended political influence. So they don't count. If you choose politician, you're limited to political influence.

Thinking Fool said...

And the Caterpillar looked at Fool and said, "Welcome to Philosoficle, also known as Wonderland."

So now that we've established that you were being somewhat sarcastic with your use of the word, "geniuses," I'm going to be a movie star loved by fans, but not by critics. I still don't understand how a political genius cannot ALSO be a political revolutionary, but 'tis your blog, so I'll play by your rules.

As an aside, since when was Michelangelo's genius (I'm assuming you're not using the word in a sarcastic sense this time) not recognized during his life? He had two biographies written about him WHILE he was alive, he was commissioned by three popes, aka arguably the most powerful men in the world at the time, to do numerous things, yadda yadda yadda. The guy was hardly an average Joe not recognized by people during his waking years.

Matthew B. Novak said...

So Michelangelo was a bad example of the not-recognized-in-his-lifetime part of the equation. But he was a good example of a person who's art resonates through time.

Also, I'm sure you can think of tons of political geniuses who aren't revolutionary in their effect - like the names I threw out.