Archive for August, 2008

Mad Geniuses

For good or usually for ill, I’ve ended up working for more than my fair share of mad geniuses.

There was the obsessive-compulsive biotech entrepreneur who made a million dollars in the stock market and then decided to start a company based not on a passion or even an interest but on his research into market opportunities. There was the concert pianist who sent me out on errands with his driver and let his four Burmese cats lounge around on my desk in fur-crusted baskets while I was trying to work. There was the Internet entrepreneur whose guiding principle for dealing with his employees was “input not consensus,” meaning that he’d be happy to listen to our ideas, but he’d always end up doing exactly what he intended to do all along.

Heck, I’ve even ended up studying with a few like the wild, virtuoso violinist who was my primary instructor at music school. Early in his career, some of his role models told him he’d never learn to play, so he became a musician to spite them. For some reason this must have convinced him that students learn best through goading and humiliation. But, boy could he play. And tell amusing stories.

That’s the thing about mad geniuses, they’re a bitch to work for or with, but they have this exuberance that makes them a whole lot of fun to hang out with. I’d always thought it would be a blast to have a drink with Luca Turin, the scientist who writes deliciously evocative perfume reviews and developed a new theory about how the sense of smell works. When I read about how he used to run into his co-workers’ labs, shove noxious vials of (sometimes toxic) chemicals under their noses and ask them to describe the smell, I thought that maybe Turin might not be so much fun to work with.

This “nice place to visit, wouldn’t want to work there” approach has served me pretty well for the past few years, but then I read this interview with philosopher Slavoj Zizek in The Guardian. I’ve never read anything he’s written, but I know there are people who think he’s a genius. Here’s a taste of Zizek from the interview:

What does love feel like?

Like a great misfortune, a monstrous parasite, a permanent state of emergency that ruins all small pleasures.

Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?

All the time. When I really love someone, I can only show it by making aggressive and bad-taste remarks.

Yoiks! I can’t imagine he’d be all that fun to spend time with unless I was in a particularly misanthropic, self-loathing sort of mood. 

[Hat-tip to Light Reading]


13 August 2008 at 20:35 1 comment

How Do You Say Rain in Canadian?

Sunday morning I leave for a week in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where I’ll be giving a paper at a ethnomusicology conference on fiddling.

Today, I checked the weather report: drizzle, showers, sprinkles, everyday, for a week. It’s like someone got bored with the forecast and opened their thesaurus up to the page for rain.

Precipitation, cloudburst,  downpour, anyone?

1 August 2008 at 20:51 Leave a comment

August 2008
« Jul   Mar »

nablopomo randomizer

nablopomo didit