I posted a question to Facebook yesterday: something along the lines of "Have you ever met a genius? Have you ever met a saint? Have you ever met anyone who had a special aura about them that set them apart in this sort of way?" In the interest of brevity, I did not seed it with some of my own answers, and *no one* answered. One person pressed the button to say he "liked" it.
Which forces me to write about it here, of course.
I might have mentioned it recently, here or elsewhere, but at Penguin I got to shake hands with Paul Ruesesabagina, the Hotel Rwanda guy. He just exuded goodness, everything but the halo.
Two musical geniuses, I think, though of course I've seen more. With artists. you can often tell from their art. But the ones I met who really got to me were Larry Johnson and Luther Allison. I first heard blues at one of my summer camps -- one of the folk music counselors used to play a handful of songs on an acoustic guitar, elaborate ragtime fingerpicking and great lyrics... and I later learned he was basically playing Johnson's album "Fast and Funky" note for note. (No mean feat, that.) I got to spend some time with Larry in the 80s when he lived downtown and there were times when we'd sit and talk and then he'd just play for an hour or two. Best, most faithful of all the Rev. Gary Davis students.
Now Luther, I think, though also a great, great musician, also had a great aura of calm and caring. Almost immediately when I met him, I felt like I'd always known him and would know him for a million years. Unfortunately, we only met two or three times, and spoke once on the phone, before he died prematurely of brain cancer.
Some geniuses are not famous geniuses and some not-famous geniuses are so brilliant that somehow they tend to have problems dealing with others. Those were the ones I usually ended up dating.
There was one -- you can find stuff about him on line, I think. He became somewhat well-known many years after we dated. And what he was famous for ties in directly with his being gay. Yes, my well-known, gay, genius boyfriend. (If it makes me look any less stupid, I kind of figured out that he was gay during the time we knew each other. which was the very early 80s.) So I met this guy, Casper Schmidt, through Susan Hein and Lloyd deMause, who were friends of my mother. Susan and I were also very fond of each other, and she would often invite me to parties along with my mother (and my stepfather, if he was willing to step in enemy territory, among the shrinks).
Anyway, I met Casper at a New Year's eve party at Lloyd and Susan's, and he was kind of perky and prematurely grey and had this really interesting accent (turned out to be South African), and we kind of took a shine to each other. Casper was involved in Lloyd's Psychohistory group (real fast: an interpretation of history through Freudian psychology), and I was really impressed with his intelligence. He was really, really, smart. He was a child *psychiatrist*, which meant he was an MD as well as an analyst, rare in those analytic circles (where the analysts tended to be MSWs or Psych Ph.D.s). And had published poetry in South Africa, and made prints, and I can't even remember what-all else. But I'm dating him, and he seems perfectly happy to be seeing me while he's eying guys. I double-dated with my friend Leslie and she remembers "that guy who was so nasty to you."
So here's the end of the story of the brilliant Dr. Casper Schmidt, which would be funny were it not so sad: somewhere in the eighties when I was maybe a couple of years shed of him (and I didn't learn this until relatively recently), Casper, who has come out with a loud bang, publishes a controversial paper claiming that AIDS does not exist except as a psychosomatic projection of the self-loathing of gay men, something like that.
Then he dies of AIDS. So, maybe not so brilliant.
The famous brilliant person I met and spent some time with is David Lynch. I love a man with a great big brain, and I also love his taste and individuality. He is very special.
You don't see people with great spirits that often, and it surprises me that I didn't encounter more while working at a mind/body/spirit imprint. Piero Ferucci may well be one; we had one phone call and a bunch of e-mails. He wrote a book called The Power of Kindness that is just amazing. And I don't recommend woo-woo books very often.
I had a college professor who was like a shining light, so many ideas and so much information and such a lovely way of sharing a story, a room of 150 students would sigh as one. I'm talking a lot on Facebook with grade and high school friends about the teachers we had there, and I'm only remembering snips and dribbles of what I was taught. But I studied with this professor in the early 90s, when I was finishing up my B.A., and he was magical. That would be James P. Carse, retired but still writing.
Once I let go of my tendency to be hynotized by extremes, I was able to have a happy marriage to a bright, regular guy, who has strengths and weaknesses. But scarily smart guys can still sometimes make me dizzy, so it's best I'm mostly at home.
OK, I'm gonna write the memoir-thing, my recollections of summers and school over a period of about ten years This blog should have some entries of that sort, about camp or school, so I'll just write about other things here for now.