Thursday, July 16, 2009

Brilliance vs. Genius

What difference is there between the term “brilliance” and “genius”?

Take a look at these two jazz legends: Jaco Pastorius (right) was brilliant, while Pat Metheny (left) is genius. How is that possible?

Edison once said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” That was quite true. Therein lay the difference.

Pat Metheny gains his greatness and becomes a living jazz legend through really hard work. He pours 6-12 hours a day into guitar exercises and music composing. His devotion to jazz music is so thorough that it becomes no wonder that he wins 18 Grammy Awards – so far.

Jaco Pastorius, on the other hand, was a pure brilliant. “I never practice,” he once replied upon an interview. Imagine that! He was the greatest bass player in the world – and he never practiced! Jaco was too busy performing on stages in so many places that he never had spare time to pick up his bass and exercise once in a while. His on-stage performances were practically his practice hours! He was a real shining star, a brilliant through and through. He got talent and greatness poured down from above almost without any effort to sharpen his ability. Up to this day, his name still echoes, so loud and clear, in the world of jazz music – and no one is yet able to replace him as “the greatest bass player in the world.”

Jaco died a tragic death back then in late 1980s. His brilliance wasted, though his legend lives on. His four children later on established a website to honor their father. Up to now, thousands of people – jazz lovers – visit his website and always remember him as the pure brilliant who was taken from Earth much too soon.

Pat Metheny continues his work. He remembers Jaco as the friend and young jazz star who once worked with him in his first album, American Garage. Pat is now well in his mid-fifties – and remains unmarried. Some people argue that he is married to his “Muse-ic”. Into it, he dedicates his entire life, strength and passion.

These legends are simply two among hundreds of brilliant and genius artists whose names are carved throughout history – each with their own tragedy and absurdity. Nevertheless, if tragedy is almost always adhered to the greatness of the brilliant and genius, won’t we prefer becoming normal people instead?

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