f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Day 5 of <em>Asher Lev</em> - Genius!

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Friday, June 25, 2004

Day 5 of Asher Lev - Genius!

There are people out there who operate differently from the rest of us. They are geniuses. It can be in business or art or science or music. They operate on a different level.

Do we believe this? And if we do, are they beholden to the same rules of life as the rest of us?

We’ve talked about Asher a little too much like he was a normal kid with a gift. I don’t think Potok intended this. I think Potok intended this gift to be miraculous, a once in a generation kind of thing. It’s not lightly that Lev is being talked about with Picasso, Monet, Chagall and other artists who define modern Western art.

Perhaps it’s just artistic license, but geniuses just live life differently. They are driven, some would say compulsively, to perfect and practice their gift. Take it away from them and they would be very different people. Asher tries to bury his drawing talent at one point and it nearly breaks him. Is that true with us? I know I am no genius, but I can’t fathom what kind of a person I’d be without writing.

And what happens when to take a prodigy and place him in a situation where that particular gift is rendered useless. Potok shows us how Asher reacts to his father’s disapproval. It tears the boy apart. Movies are filled with these situations. October Sky, Billy Elliot, and even Bend It Like Beckham are just some recent examples of societal pressures trying to stifle the gift of an adolescent. Langston Hughes asked the question in his poem in a different way in “A Dream Deferred” and one of the lines was co-opted by Lorraine Hansberry for her newly revived play, A Raisin in the Sun.

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Asher’s dream, his gift, seems to sag and weigh on him.

I guess I don’t see genius as having any particular bearing on this issue though. We all have talents and needs for self-actualization. How we balance those needs versus the demands of our culture and community and, more importantly, our family is the hard work of living.

Next week we're going to go back to the issue of making an impact in CBA. There are some very dedicated and passionate people who don't seem to be satisfied merely with talking about things. They want action. And so we'll use the new discussion board as a forum to talk vision and direction--and whether CBA can even be changed.