Genius is answerable only to itself; it is the sole judge of the means, since it alone knows the end; thus genius must consider itself as above the law, for it is the task of genius to remake the law; moreover the man who frees himself from his time and place may take everything, hazard everything, for everything is his by right.
Society cannot contribute anything to the breeding and growing of ingenious men. A creative genius cannot be trained. There are no schools for creativeness. A genius is precisely a man who defies all schools and rules, who deviates from the traditional roads of routine and opens up new paths through land inaccessible before. A genius is always a teacher, never a pupil; he is always self-made.
The book, the college, the school of art, the institution of any kind, stop with some past utterance of genius. . . . They look backward and not forward. But genius looks forward: the eyes of man are set in his forehead, not in his hindhead: man hopes: genius creates. Whatever talents may be, if the man create not, the pure efflux of the Deity is not his; - cinders and smoke there may be, but not yet flame.
From the standpoint of education, genius means essentially 'giving birth to the joy in learning.' I'd like to suggest that this is the central task of all educators. It is the genius of the student that is the driving force behind all learning. Before educators take on any of the other important issues in learning, they must first have a thorough understanding of what lies at the core of each student's intrinsic motivation to learn, and that motivation originates in each student's genius.
Be assured that, although men of eminent genius have been guilty of all other vices, none worthy of more than a secondary name has ever been a gamester. Either an excess of avarice or a deficiency of what, in physics, is called excitability, is the cause of it; neither of which can exist in the same bosom with genius, with patriotism, or with virtue.
Geniuses are people who dash off weird, wild, incomprehensible poems with astonishing facility, & then go & get booming drunk & sleep in the gutter. Genius elevates a man to ineffable speres [sic] far above the vulgar world, & fills his soul with a regal contempt for the gross & sordid things of earth. It is probably on account of this that people who have genius do not pay their board, as a general thing.
I do not believe, as do so many musicians, that genius should be left to fight its way to the light. Genius is too rare, too precious, to be permitted to waste the best years of life--the years of youth and lofty dreams--in a heart-breaking struggle for bread. To starve the soul with the body is to do worse than murder. Think, too, of what the public loses!