Bobby Fischer: Should We Worship Brilliance?

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Some thoughts on the passing of Grade A wack job Bobby Fischer.

1. His life makes Michael Jackson’s look like a study on blending into the scenery

2. Read about Chess geniuses and I think you’ll find that an overwhelming number of them are either completely out of their mind or never really accomplish much with their lives.

3. We as a culture worship brilliance and without doing any in depth studies – brilliant people seem to have a really high incidence of madness. Sometimes I wonder if our priorities are in the wrong place. When we learn history, we almost always do so by reading about brilliant people of great achievement (whether it be the production of beauty, making a ton of money, committing far flung genocide, repelling genocidal attackers, inventing nuclear weapons etc).

Some of these people are genetically predisposed to madness, but others I think go mad in the pursuit of greatness. A guy like Brian Wilson is probably a case of a little of both. Now certainly, I’m not someone who wishes that Brian Wilson never produced Pet Sounds, but sometimes I wonder if the world would be a better place if we deemphasized out fascination with these mad purveyors of excellence and paid more attention to people who lived well adjusted lives of kindness and compassion.

I waver back and forth on this issue. My mother for instance is a wonderful person. She’d be a great role model for any person anywhere. Whenever she tells me that she loves a movie like Patch Adams, I simply recognize that she’s a better person than she is an artistic critic.

Essentially, when I think about this issue I have to wonder what’s more important to me a peaceful loving world or quality entertainment. So ask yourself, how many hours of Barry Manilow would you listen to in order to end world hunger?

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