Telling the Story of Strange Ideas
Greetings and welcome to Genius Obscura, a magazine dedicated to discovering and celebrating hidden genius, absurdity, the surreal, extraordinary imagination, eccentric and unusual insights. This magazine celebrates qualities that defy genre. Examples of writers who embody surreal, hidden genius include Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, Franz Kafka, Mikhail Bulgakov, Nikolai Gogol, and William S. Burroughs. Genres and movements that embody hidden genius include surrealism, dada, avant garde, slipstream, fantasy, science fiction, magical realism, and bizarro. These movements in turn, borrow methods and techniques from even older and more culturally-universal forms of storytelling: myth and fairytale.
What all of these movements and people have in common is a rejection of mainstream, ordinary, corporeal existence. Their words, their methods, unlock the gates of shadow, parallel worlds that look like our own, but where nothing is as it seems. Logic, reason, time, and the laws of physics either bend within them or cease to exist entirely. Inanimate objects come to life. Battles rage between giant robots in an alternate timeline. Dead souls rise again to tell their stories—or more often, to seek vengeance on those who wronged them.
In these worlds, ego and personality disintegrate and the body transmogrifies. A panoply of states of being exist. Awe, terror—and as often as not the absurd—are intermingled in the journeys taken by protagonist and antagonist alike in tales told from alternate realms. Characters and readers experience the freedom of awakening to new realities where anything is possible. For those who cannot suspend their skepticism, who cannot summon the cognitive flexibility or the imagination—the door is closed to these worlds.
The appreciation and the flourishing of genius are rare. Rejection of mainstream, ordinary reality is compulsory to stepping through the portal into the unknown and experiencing the surreal. The pleasures of conformity, i.e., predictability, and its comforting stability require the sacrifice of flexibility in thought. Surrealist writers act as our guides, interlocutors and shamans. Their writings are one of the invisible threads that bind our universe to the parallel dimensions which intersect with our own—usually only in dreams or trance states. These writers are psychonauts, explorers who risk their sanity and social standing to retrieve knowledge from inner domains so that all may better understand the enigmas of human nature.
In Reverse Engineering Genius: Historiometric Studies of Superlative Talent, Dean Keith Simonton states, “…motivational persistence and openness to experience are two of the most consistent predictors of future genius.” p5 He goes on to specify that, “…preference for variety, aesthetic sensitivity, active imagination or fantasy, and attentiveness to inner feelings,” all positively correlate with “creative achievement and exceptional leadership.” p6
Genius Obscura starts from the philosophical vantage point that genius is not the sum of test scores, but of insight and creativity. Everyone has a hidden genius within them—the potential to create something brilliant, insightful, meaningful, and extraordinary. Yet few people choose to develop the qualities needed to tap into that genius, to nurture it, or even to identify it. Instead, they choose to deny its existence. Most societies teach us that those qualities are weird, strange, and unacceptable. At Genius Obscura, we aim to reveal, examine, and celebrate these qualities.
Unlike the more conventional approach, which utilizes short biographical sketches of authors to highlight their writing, we will do the reverse. Here, fiction excerpts will be a minor portion of the content. Author biographies and interviews will be more extensive. The author’s work will be used to highlight the author, their thinking, ideas and their insights and inspirations—not the other way around. By taking this approach we are not making the statement that surrealist fiction doesn’t deserve a larger platform; it does. What we offer is something different, needed, and equally relevant. Join us to see something you cannot find elsewhere: an in-depth exploration of the inspired minds that create surreal, experimental fiction.
We hope you enjoy Genius Obscura. Subscribe to our intermittent newsletter. And if you’re a hard-to-classify writer with something meaningful to say…submit.
Masthead: Justin Teerlinck, Editor/Publisher
Frequency of publication: Intermittent; We accept submissions and publish on a rolling basis
Subscriber fees: Free
Payment to authors: None
Submission guidelines: Please click on the link and see the posting for more details. We primarily publish creative nonfiction in the form of interviews, essays, and biographies. Fiction will appear as work excerpts to highlight authors.
Simonton, Dean Keith. Reverse Engineering Genius: Historiometric Studies of Superlative Talent. https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/nyas.13054