The Advanced Genius Theory: Are They Out of Their Minds or Ahead of Their Time?

The Advanced Genius Theory: Are They Out of Their Minds or Ahead of Their Time?

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by Jason Hartley
     
 

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The Advanced Genius Theory, hatched by Jason Hartley and Britt Bergman over pizza, began as a means to explain why icons such as Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Sting seem to go from artistic brilliance in their early careers to "losing it" as they grow older. The Theory proposes that they don’t actually lose it, but

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The Advanced Genius Theory, hatched by Jason Hartley and Britt Bergman over pizza, began as a means to explain why icons such as Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Sting seem to go from artistic brilliance in their early careers to "losing it" as they grow older. The Theory proposes that they don’t actually lose it, but rather, their work simply advances beyond our comprehension. The ramifications and departures of this argument are limitless, and so are the examples worth considering, such as George Lucas’s Jar Jar Binks, Stanley Kubrick’s fascination with coffee commercials, and the last few decades of Paul McCartney’s career. With equal doses of humor and philosophy, theorist Jason Hartley examines music, literature, sports, politics, and the very meaning of taste, presenting an entirely new way to appreciate the pop culture we love . . . and sometimes think we hate. The Advanced Genius Theory is a manifesto that takes on the least understood work by the most celebrated figures of our time.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Fans of any art form or entertainment-especially music-have seen at least one beloved favorite's youthful brilliance, with time, turn to embarrassing self-parody. What pop culture writer Hartley proposes is that their genius hasn't faded-it's just outstripped the public's ability to appreciate. Though it can feel a bit tongue-in-cheek, Hartley gently advances his "Advanced Genius Theory" with rigor, enthusiasm, and a game sense of (re-)discovery. Eschewing the snide critical distance that many fans take for granted, Hartley gives the artist in question the benefit of the doubt: if we accept that Lou Reed, for example, was a musical genius in his youth, are we even qualified to say he's lost his brilliance as he's gotten older? (Regarding George Lucas, Hartley submits: "The fact is, Jar Jar Binks is no better or worse than Chewbacca. Just ask your dad.") Defining his terms clearly ("Advanced" geniuses must have alienated their original fans and lost much of their popularity), he proceeds through key aspects and examples of his theory, including the ideas of "Overt" achievement and "Irritants," the "most advanced musicians of all time" (Bob Dylan and Lou Reed), and the Advanced success story of Steve Martin. Though it should ignite many debates over whether your current favorite is Overt or Advanced, it also shows that, in either case, there's more pleasure to be found when one keeps an open mind.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Publisher
“Advancement is a profoundly optimistic way to experience art, and that’s what makes it difficult to accept; it requires a flexible mind, a certain kind of intellectual humility, and a willingness to disregard what initially seems obvious. But once you let your mind slide in the advanced direction, it can never slide back. Not totally. Things will always sound a little different … and a little better.” —From the Foreword by Chuck Klosterman

“Advancement scholars do not foster a spirit of inquiry. It's really just a way for Advancement proponents to appreciate shitty music by people they consider to be nonshitty. It allows you to engage with Lou Reed's music from the 1980s, but not the Hooters or the Outfield [not true! I love ‘And We Danced.’–JH]. This entire theory is shackled by a Heisenbergian principle of self-consciousness.” —Rob Sheffield

"Hartley gently advances his "Advanced Genius Theory" with rigor, enthusiasm, and a game sense of (re-)discovery. Eschewing the snide critical distance that many fans take for granted, Hartley gives the artist in question the benefit of the doubt."—Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439117484
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
05/18/2010
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Advancement is a profoundly optimistic way to experience art, and that’s what makes it difficult to accept; it requires a flexible mind, a certain kind of intellectual humility, and a willingness to disregard what initially seems obvious. But once you let your mind slide in the advanced direction, it can never slide back. Not totally. Things will always sound a little different … and a little better.” —From the Foreword by Chuck Klosterman

“Advancement scholars do not foster a spirit of inquiry. It's really just a way for Advancement proponents to appreciate shitty music by people they consider to be nonshitty. It allows you to engage with Lou Reed's music from the 1980s, but not the Hooters or the Outfield [not true! I love ‘And We Danced.’–JH]. This entire theory is shackled by a Heisenbergian principle of self-consciousness.” —Rob Sheffield

"Hartley gently advances his "Advanced Genius Theory" with rigor, enthusiasm, and a game sense of (re-)discovery. Eschewing the snide critical distance that many fans take for granted, Hartley gives the artist in question the benefit of the doubt."—Publishers Weekly

Meet the Author

Jason Hartley is a writer, musician, and online marketer. He holds a BA in English from the University of South Carolina. He has worked professionally as a dancer and choreographer, and has studied at the American Dance Festival, Dance Space, Inc., and Movement Research. He has written for Esquire, Spin.com, and VH-1's Best Week Ever blog. Since 2004, Jason has maintained his own website, Advanced Theory Blog. Originally from South Carolina, he now lives in Georgia.
Chuck Klosterman is the New York Times bestselling author of seven previous books, including Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs; Eating the Dinosaur; Killing Yourself to Live; and The Visible Man. His debut book, Fargo Rock City, was the winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award. He has written for GQ, Esquire, Spin, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Believer, and The Onion A.V. Club. He currently serves as “The Ethicist” for the New York Times Magazine and writes about sports and popular culture for ESPN.

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The Advanced Genius Theory: Are They Out of Their Minds or Ahead of Their Time? 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sarah Moran More than 1 year ago
I've finished reading the sample just now, and although it may read as if the author simply found something interesting to ponder in his free time it is highly entertaining to see where his mind has taken him. I am assuming the rest of the novel will be just as thought provoking.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a must read if your looking for conversation and/or love music!
golftrice More than 1 year ago
This is an extremely well-written, thought-provoking book that is laugh-out-loud funny at times! It is interesting on many different levels and makes some excellent points about the nature of criticism---what qualifies someone to be a critic and how we judge popular culture. Most of the book is about music, but the theory is especially fascinating when it is applied to politics and sports. I think this would be a great choice for book clubs as it provides lots of fodder for discussion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an entertaining and interesting theory with much behind it. I find that the Rolling Stones' "Harlem Shuffle" and their earlier "Hot Stuff" could apply to the expensive radioactive uranium tiles that were originally used extensively in some Manhattan Harlem buildings on floors and bathrooms that were removed by contractors revovating. So, that would make the Rolling Stones "Advanced?" I can listen to D. Harry's (Blondie's) "Union City Blue's" a zillion times--what is that song about--math set theory/union, mining operations in Mexico near a large city, Mexican damsel discussing boyfriend, etc. That makes Blondie "Advanced?" Hard-core dance Reggae is great, but Reggae artist songs such as B. Marley's "Kaya," Freddy Mc Gregor's "Works of Jah," and U Brown's "Tu Sheng Peng" are in any way similar to Blondie's "Rapture," or Sting's "The Bed's too Big Without You?" The author states that Reggae was the inspiration, but those songs are not close to rap or reggae. The B-52s and David Bowie are great, but where did Bowie or the B-52s cave in--as their latest releases are cultural communication pieces. The Beach Boys' "[Lets] Do it Again" does not sound phony, its quite beachy. Much of all of this is cultural; and, as it is with reader-response criticism--what one sees is what one knows and visa-versa. And, once it leaves the artist, what the artist's original intent is/was, may not matter or be significant... This "Advanced Genious Theory" book discusses in detail "Advanced Genious" as the artist's (writers, musicians, etc.) ability to communicate a culture/different culture(s) to many people's satisfaction and whether the artist can continue to do so without failure. I love writer Thomas Pynchon, and have read many of his books, but JG Ballard is also quite great, though the author does not mention Ballard. Marlon Brando was a great actor, but so was Klaus Kinski (such as in W. Herzog's, "The Wrath of God"), though the author does not mention Klaus Kinski. The author does not seem to come up with many Advanced women, though I would say that Blondie, (Diana Ross and the Supremes, ABBA, though before my time), Ofra Haza, Sade (mentioned), Barbara Striesand, and others could be said to be "Advanced." Then, there was that rapper TuPac with "How do you want it, how do you need it" song that was so "Advanced" who would want to listen to it as it describes the low self-esteem beyond-ghetto guy making it rich with 100s of N words and all. Andy Warhol could not help his socialite "Advanced" friend except putting her in the "Factory Girl" film, but this I did not see menioned in the Warhol section of the book. Not mentioned is Marlene Dietrich... Yet, one can listen to a wonderful J.S. Bach piece or a spiritual and wonder what this book is really about. Many of the so-called "Advanced" do seem to sometimes mention "Advanced" people in their works such as E. John's "Rocket Man."