The Advanced Genius Theory
Are They Out of Their Minds or Ahead of Their Time?
Publication Date: May 18, 2010
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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.
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.
“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