the genuinely creative person

The age of intellectuals is full of surprises and paradoxes. One would have thought, for instance, that in societies dominated by intellectuals the atmosphere would be ideal for the performance of poets, writers, and artists.

What we find instead is that a ruling intellectual hierarchy tends to hamper or even stifle the creative individual. The reason for this paradox is that when intellectuals come to power it is as a rule the meagerly endowed among them who rule the roost.

The genuinely creative person seems to lack the temperament requisite for the seizure, exercise, and, above all, the retention of power.

If Hitler had the talents of a great painter or architect, if Lenin and Stalin had had the making of great theoreticians, if Napoleon and Mussolini had had it in them to become great poets or philosophers, they might not have developed an unappeasable hunger for power.

Now, one of the chief proclivities of people who hunger for literary or artistic greatness but lack talents is to interfere with the creativeness of others. They derive an exquisite satisfaction from imposing their taste and style on the gifted and brilliant.

Throughout most of history the creative intellectual was at his best in societies dominated not by “men of words” but by men of action who were culturally literate.

Hoffer, Eric. The Temper of Our Time. New York: Harper & Row, 1966. 68–69. Print.


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