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Mad Men and the Birth of Genius

July 20, 2010

Right now I’m staying up way too late watching a “Mad Men” marathon. I both love this show and hate it. I love it because it is incredible — brilliant even. Beautiful. Intense. Melancholy. It’s so dark, but somehow it still sparkles. The sky does that. Giving me no choice but to adore it. And I do … but I hate it too.

I feel it mocking me. Pointing and grinning smugly — daring me somehow. The way the big kids on the play ground looked at me when they knew they weren’t going to pick me for their teams. Because I couldn’t run as fast, jump as high, shoot as far. Because they were better than me.

And I hate the show because I wish I had written it. And, because of this show, right now I’m having a moment that makes me wonder if some thing as great as it is inside of me. If it is, I guess it’s okay that it’s still in there; I guess I know that it isn’t ready to come out yet. And if it did come out now it wouldn’t be viable. A sick and dying preemie — a miscarriage of my invention.

But I can’t help but wonder what exactly is in there. I can’t see it. I can feel it, but I just don’t recognize it. Does the seed for something strong and beautiful already exist inside of me? Does its potential come cyclically, waiting to be fertilized and take root? Will the new moon bring me another chance?

Or has it already started — has it nested in and begun to draw from me, from my life? Already there just growing, gestating, waiting for its eventual delivery. Is that embryonic greatness the thing I feel kicking from within from time to time?

Whatever it is, it’s hitting me in the ribs tonight as it churns around and saps my energy. It must be growing to make me this tired. What do I feed this fetal desire to make it strong, I wonder. What kind of prenatal vitamins does genius need? Graduate school perhaps. And when can I expect the labor pains? How long will it take before the baby is mature?

And, when it is, how will the delivery go?

Once ripe, will it come rushing out immediately like water would through a crack in a damn? Perhaps it will be urged into the world with a few desperate, deep, hard pushes. Or will it painfully entangle itself with my insides and try to stay there.

Will this thing come brightly and violently to life, crying in a bloody, brilliant mess?

Or, worse yet, will the birth echo with silence, a still-born creation. Something that should be full of life, promise and hope. Something that looks like me — that is mostly me — just lying there, an idea that didn’t quite make it.

Or will it put works like “Mad Men” to shame in comparison?

I guess we will just have to see when it gets here.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Enlightened Wes permalink
    July 20, 2010 3:07 pm

    “Or, worse yet, will the birth echo with silence, a still-born creation. Something that should be full of life, promise and hope. Something that looks like me — that is mostly me — just lying there, an idea that didn’t quite make it.”

    Well written, nice work.

    Like any seed, water it daily and give it all it needs then watch it grow into it’s fullest potential.


  2. David C permalink
    July 21, 2010 7:59 am

    Two things:

    1.) How does grad school fit-in with what you really really want to do? Always begin with the end in mind.
    2.) Something they tell every aspiring video game developer: John Carmack’s first game wasn’t Doom, or even Wolfenstein. Basically saying, “you know, your first try or two at something, might suck. That’s ok. Do it anyway.”


    • July 21, 2010 8:25 am

      1. I would eventually like to be a college professor. But I don’t know when. Also, the way that graduate school would fit in is it would provide me with time away from other responsibilities all at once as well as the help that teachers and peers working together toward the same end can provide.

      2. I know that my first try might be crap. I have a lot of crap hidden a way in my notebooks and hard drive — I even have some crap on this blog (and I’m sorry to any of you that have read it, please don’t be mad at me for it). That’s another reason to go to grad school though. If I get help it’s less likely to be crap — at the very least it shouldn’t take me as long to get to the good stuff.


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