Blessed are the temperamental geniuses.
It is the eve of the commencement of the US Open tennis tournament and Canberra's and Australia's effervescent Nick Kyrgios is the event's 28th seed for the men's singles.
This columnist has a contrary but proud record of forgiving Kyrgios his trespasses (and he has just been fined a king's ransom for a miscellany of behavioural atrocities at the Cincinnati Masters) because he seems to me to fit into the mankind-enriching tradition of temperamental geniuses.
His tennis game, when his troubled mind doesn't interfere with it, is unbeatably wonderful. One senses he could win the US Open, playfully serving underarm for the whole fortnight, if he so fancied.
If he was a mediocrity his personality would be unforgivable, but as it is his sublime gifts and his temperamental torments seem somehow connected. Well-read readers will know of umpteen examples, especially in the arts, of men and women who have shown these sorts of combinations of talent and awfulness.
What if Kyrgios is, in a sense, the Martha Argerich of lawn tennis?
Cultured readers will know that Martha Argerich, the emeritus Argentine pianist (she is 78 now, but shows no signs of growing up), is simultaneously the musician from Heaven (especially in electrifying live performance) but a human being from Hell.
Her awfulness is legendary and you sense (although most of Argerich's awfulness is aimed at people, not objects) that if one could smash pianos as easily as one can smash tennis racquets her career would be littered with splintered Steinways.
I never read feature pieces about Argerich without getting glimpses of Nick between the lines. Here for example is Ivan Hewett of the English Daily Telegraph discussing Argerich and genius.
"The idea that creative people are dangerous to know goes back a long way. Plato's advice to any Greek city-state visited by a poet was: crown him with laurels, and then drive him out. He knew these strangely attractive people possessed something rare and precious: the daemon, an inner spirit with an eloquence that sends ordinary mortals crazy.
"I thought of Plato's guidance while watching Argerich (Bloody Daughter), a filmed portrait of the great Argentinian-born pianist Martha Argerich. The film, made by her daughter, Stéphanie, shows the human cost of her [mother's] genius.
"A vortex of emotional trouble seems to swirl around this woman. Yet once she sits at the piano, disorder and doubt fall away. She plays piano the way a gazelle leaps from one crag to another, with mesmerising natural mastery.
"The burden of being the mouthpiece of a daemon weighs on Argerich, who in the film confesses to not knowing quite who she is [though in her 70s]. She's totally at the service of her gift, but so is everyone around her. As a result she herself appears completely selfish: everyone has to dance attendance on her moods. This infantile demand that the entire world should bend to one's own needs has been a feature of the artist's psychology down the ages ... There is a pay-off for all the misery these geniuses cause; the wonderful art, music, poetry and (in Argerich's case) performance."
"Is it worth it?" Hewett wonders, seeming to decide, as this columnist decided long ago about Kyrgios and about all creative geniuses who actually do create amazing things, that yes, it is worth it; just.
While I would never blow my own trumpet (it is a noisy, brassy, narcissistic, attention-seeking instrument), I will pluck and strum a shy, quiet melody on my theorbo (it is a 17th century instrument of the lute family) and point out that I correctly forecast the outcome of the federal election of May 18.
Just as the pain of the election result had begun to ebb and just as some colour had begun to return to my ashen cheeks, up has come Erik Jensen's Quarterly Essay and his ABC Radio National Big Ideas talk all about the election he followed so closely. His fine forensic mind registers fascinated horror at the characters of Morrison and Shorten, and at the election's nightmarish outcome. I've sung Jensen's essay's praises in another column in another place (Saturday's Canberra Times) but had no room and no reason to mention his admission that he, like almost every commentator, had been sure of a Labor victory and had been hornswoggled by what happened.
But, yes, while almost every other far more famous, far more pompous commentator trumpeted the certainty of a Labor victory on election eve in one of my modest columns with its boutique readership of just a few discerning dozens I saw what was coming. I softly sang, to my theorbo's soft and lilting accompaniment, that Australians as I knew them were going to be too conservative, death-tax-fearful and franking-credits-greedy to opt for Labor and Shorten's agendas of hair-raising, spine-chilling change.
What a contrast my shy, adult forecast, with its quiet, emeritus wisdom (I am 73, and pocked and scarred by my many disappointments at Australians' cowardy-custard conservatism) made with the swagger of so many of those who trumpeted of the certainty of a Labor victory.
Their subsequent embarrassments (serve them right for trying to impress us all with their displays of amazing soothsaying sagacity) have been, for me, the only consolation of an election result that, although I saw it coming, has filled me with despair. Appalled by Australia and Australians I am turning away from the following of news and current affairs to concentrate instead on my theorbo lessons.