Saturday, May 29, 2010

Advanced Genius Theory in Publishers Weekly

A review (Publishers Weekly):
Jason Hartley, foreword by Chuck Klosterman. Scribner, $15 paper (288p) ISBN 9781439102367
Fans of any art form or entertainment—especially music—have seen at least one beloved favorite's youthful brilliance, with time, turn to embarrassing self-parody. What pop culture writer Hartley proposes is that their genius hasn't faded—it's just outstripped the public's ability to appreciate. Though it can feel a bit tongue-in-cheek, Hartley gently advances his "Advanced Genius Theory" with rigor, enthusiasm, and a game sense of (re-)discovery. Eschewing the snide critical distance that many fans take for granted, Hartley gives the artist in question the benefit of the doubt: if we accept that Lou Reed, for example, was a musical genius in his youth, are we even qualified to say he's lost his brilliance as he's gotten older? (Regarding George Lucas, Hartley submits: "The fact is, Jar Jar Binks is no better or worse than Chewbacca. Just ask your dad.") Defining his terms clearly ("Advanced" geniuses must have alienated their original fans and lost much of their popularity), he proceeds through key aspects and examples of his theory, including the ideas of "Overt" achievement and "Irritants," the "most advanced musicians of all time" (Bob Dylan and Lou Reed), and the Advanced success story of Steve Martin. Though it should ignite many debates over whether your current favorite is Overt or Advanced, it also shows that, in either case, there's more pleasure to be found when one keeps an open mind.
 This reviewer understands me.


pam said...

Congratulations on the book, Jason! I'm already buying copies for gifts. I'm glad this reviewer appreciated your Jar Jar Binks comment. I always thought it was especially insightful. After watching Jar Jar in the TPM for 10min., own dad rolled his eyes and said, "Do you want to leave? I never could stand these movies...all these puppets and stuff." Keep writing; I know you have many more books up your sleeve. (And I'm always glad to read again if you like). Pam L.

Unknown said...

Thanks Pam! I lost your email address, otherwise I would have sent you one for free.