The grammar of the title is shaky, but I am going for something vaguely like “of what responsibilities does the quality of genius absolve a person?”
Nikolay Nekrasov famously wrote “Поэтом можешь ты не быть, но гражданином быть обязан” – my translation of that would be “You needn’t be a poet, but you must be a citizen.” That is, genius or no, you better be a decent person and have reasonable opinions. Maybe my previous posts on art as trial by combat and even the post on Tim Thomas kind of implicitly point it out so you’re probably not surprised, but I disagree. This dilemma is best personified by the Russian poet Mayakovsky. Because his ideals (an anti-Nature philosophy, a belief in the purposeful destruction of cultural heritage, Stalinism to name three) are completely against anything most people (including me) believe, and also because he put these ideals in his poetry, a lot of people dislike his poetry. But to me, his poetry is no less amazing because the ideas in some poems are wrong or bizarre, and no less amazing because of who he was as a person.
Anyway, I was planning an elaborate post on this, and then I read one sentence in a Tommaso Landolfi story that sort of made my opinion seem ludicrous much better than any argument could:
“It is true,” a great man once said, “that I also have to pee, but for quite different reasons.”
Totally skewers any point I was going to make. So, I don’t know. It’s a difficult question.