Do We Need To Be Eccentric To Be A Genius?

It takes all kind of people to make the world. No offence intended either directly or implicatively, but the literature is over-flooded with the stories of eccentric geniuses. Do we really need to be eccentric to be a genius?

Eccentricity is often associated with genius, intellectual giftedness, or creativity. People may perceive the individual’s eccentric behaviour as the outward expression of their unique intelligence or creative impulse.

There appears to be a fascinating link between geniuses and eccentric behaviour. Einstein picked cigarette butts off the street and used the tobacco for his pipe; Benjamin Franklin sat naked in front of a window every morning and let the air circulate over his body. He called it an “air bath.”

Steve Jobs’ authorized biography reveals that he cried incessantly when he was frustrated and didn’t get his way, and he also used to shed happy tears when he experienced what he described as “purity of spirit.”

Those who have visited the Musée d’Orsay in Paris must have seen the self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh with his left ear cut off. Many questions arise in mind. Why did the artist draw his own portrait and why did he cut off his left ear?

He painted himself because he often lacked the money to pay for models and he cut off his left ear when his tempers flared with Paul Gauguin, the artist with whom he worked for a while in Arles.

When it comes to one more genius, biographers made explicit references to a probability that Leonardo Da Vinci was homosexual. Emilie du Châtelet, on the other hand, went unrecognized for her pioneering scientific work in the early 18th century but was notorious for her active sex life.

Why some genius finds it difficult to live in harmony with society and follow the law of land? Alan Turing did not follow the prevailing rules of the UK and eventually, he had to commit suicide. The French intellectual Diderot was always in trouble with authorities and had to fight back through allegorical philosophical writings. Many such things are started in his philosophical novel: “Le Neveu de Rameau.”

Did the early society not allow the talented to support themselves because it did not value them, leaving them to beg while the rich and powerful poke fun at them? In order to survive, Bach and Haydn had to “crawl and flatter,” for survival, Beethoven and Wagner had to “dupe and cheat.” Others escaped by claiming to work directly for God (Bruckner) or jointly with God (Scriabin). Menuhin, Rachmaninoff, Piatigorsky, and Hofmann were the fortunate ones who married rich and survived.

While many explanations exist for such eccentricity of these wizards, is it not true that a great number of people are eccentric without being a genius in any field. Being reasonably normal is no barrier to being a genius. However, being eccentric probably will be a formidable barrier to functioning as a genius. Eccentric” and “genius” are terms with polyvalent meanings. Different people understand them differently.

Maybe the eccentricity of geniuses is not completely without explanation; there are mental benefits behind some of their madness at least. Dr Yoshiko Nakamatsu, who patented more than 3,300 inventions including the floppy disk, would retire to his “Calm Room” every night— a bathroom tiled in 24-karat gold. He explained that the gold blocks out radio waves and television signals that are harmful to the imagination.

Regardless of how society perceived them or what they did in their personal lives, the contribution of all these wizards is unforgettable to mankind.

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