The Accidental Polymath

     The Oxford definition of Polymath is “A person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning.” From the Greek “Poly” meaning “Many” and “manthanein” or “Mathe” meaning “To learn”. Webster defines it as “A person of encyclopedic knowledge.” Aristotle, Leonardo DaVinci, and philosopher/writer Francis Bacon are perhaps the best known historical examples, men who became experts at many fields of study, historical, scientific, artistic, they were the original “Renaissance-men”, whose breadth of self-directed knowledge and expertise spanned nearly every conceivable subject, thus allowing them to cross-pollenate patterns and ideas across multiple disciplines, to apply unique, world-changing innovations to age old problems - creativity on a scale which boggles the mind.  True modern-day Polymaths are exceedingly rare, especially in today’s age of specialization, which typically only rewards those who choose a single career or area of expertise, “Monomaths”.  We are all experts at something, be it medicine, law, education, psychology, engineering, architecture, business management, finance, IT, Facebook, political correctness, politics, religion, cooking, our own households - stocks, disease control, horses/marketing, kinesiology, (those last four thrown-in for the sake of my four oldest children). But if you ask a Polymath about their expertise, their answers inevitably come across as either outrageously braggadocious or downright unbelievable.


     “In Pursuit of Polymaths: Understanding Renaissance Persons of the 21st Century” is a recent Doctoral Dissertation by Angela J. Cotellessa, which has opened my mind to the language and conceptual framework of my entire life. Technically, being a polymath entails measurable, substantial contributions to business, science, art, or society in general. And thus far, my only measurable achievements are indeed the four, now five, previously mentioned brilliant, loving, and industrious children who have successfully crossed the threshold into fulfilling adult and parenthood themselves. They will forever be my greatest and most proud accomplishments. So perhaps it’s more correct to label me a Philomath, which is one who merely loves to learn. But as Cotellessa succinctly points out, loving to learn anything and everything one can learn within a lifetime and taking self-charge of your own educational direction is by far the most critical component in actually becoming a bonafide Polymath.


     While I share the majority of traits, attitudes, openness to experience, nature and nurture of Cotellessa’s 13 Polymathic research subjects, I’ve only bitten around the edges of their kind of success.  Now 58-years-old, panic has set-in as I STILL try to decide what I want to be when I grow up. 40 years after I began my wildly divergent career paths as an adult, my biological clock continues to tick, ever more urgently, even as my mind, over-saturated with knowledge and impotent ambition continues to chase the road less-travelled. Arguably, my early success as a real world painter has some degree of qualitative visible merit, but like all of Cotellessa’s polymaths, the idea of simply doing one thing, painting, day after day for the rest of my life was intolerable. I easily fell into a love of literature and exhausted several genres of fiction including science, unconsciously picking up the patterns and vocabulary of good storytelling.


     So about the time I hung-up my easel for the magic of Adobe photoshop, Windows NT and other digital CG packages,  I chose to learn the art of telling stories. Thus I’ve become an expert at Campbellian/Jungian Architypes and the “Hero’s Journey” which of course branches well into philosophy, philosophy into math, math (as I discovered) into religion, religion into history, etc… Along the way, I became an expert on Freemasonry, 16th Century Elizabethan England, 6th Century Byzantine Empire, Pythagorean Geometry, Kabala, Shi’ah and Sunni Islam, Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Dr. Obadia Harris, director of the Manley P. Hall Library and President of The University of Philosophical Research suggested I had a strong possibility of clepping-out my Doctorate of Philosophy back when they still held such board-administered Exams. The patterns of myth, math, science and history repeat endlessly across more fields of expertise than I’ve ever been able to comfortably hold. I believe I might be the cover boy for Cortellessa’s described tragic dichotomy of enormous self-confidence in my creativity and ability to learn anything on demand, yet riddled by insecurities and fears of Imposter Syndrome.


     When my brother Donnie called from California to say he had successfully pitched one of my earliest story concepts to a group of producers, I learned to screen-write, which took the better part of two years, but we ended up taking a pretty big bite out of near polymathic success in Hollywood. But the film industry is not for the weak of heart. I’ve parlayed my early success into other near successes and continue to try, but Hollywood is an invitation-only hot-bed of lies, deceit, and disappointment where everyone but the director, perhaps writer and perhaps producer is a strictly trained and guarded Monomathic specialist. Of course, the very nature of film direction calls for polymathic skills and leadership, but one does not, can never, simply decide to become a director.

     Thus I was led to become my own director, learning the craft of Novelists. Only in a novel can its creator use words to paint world’s, build emotion, yell cut and action in an entertaining and engaging way, without collaborative interference, not to mention make an attempt to challenge modern day religious or philosophical ideals central to half the population of our Earth.  I mean, who do I think I am, right?


     My polymathic propensity was accidental. A little bit of Nature, a boat-load of Nurture, but as Cortellessa accurately concluded, it wasn’t like I had a choice. No polymath does. To do anything else, to specialize in one career or activity is tantamount to death for me. Wish me luck as my flawed creative journey nears my sixth and probably final decade.


     I’ve always seen things that others don’t, patterns which emerge across multiple disciplines and fields of knowledge, which enlighten my life, my art, and hopefully my children with novel insights. I’ve come to believe I can make a radical difference and bring about positive change in our modern world.


     This has always been my Mission Statement, even before installing Final Draft and typing in my first “Fade-in”. Nearly everything in “Lamb of God” is completely true and based on the most modern investigations or historical conjectures on the life and significance of Jesus the Nazorean, Cardinal Eugene Tisserant, Hans Ginny and Cymatics, The Tora, Bible and the Koran’s deep secret numerical coding called Gematria, the revelations of Freemasonry, and the flawed beautiful humanity of (Dr. Marcus Curry). Reverend Dr. Beverly Madison Currin of Pensacola Christ Episcopal Church, who stayed on-demand by phone for me throughout the research driven creation of this epic tale. Matt was a superstar of the Episcopal Church, of liberal Christianity, of the city of Pensacola, FL, of his family, and of my own polymathic education. Though he knew I had started this project as a hard-core Athiest, he professed to have total faith that I was right where I needed to be, that God had put me on this difficult path for a reason. Matt stood 4’11” tall, but will always remain the giant that my 6’2” 220 lbs pro-football brother Donnie was in fact.

     My great friend Matt passed away five years ago, my brother just two years ago, but I consider this tale as much theirs as my own. Donnie and Matt truly believed that “our” tale would change the world. In Hollywood we came close but it was not then to be. I can only apologize to them both for the near miss, even as I continue to miss them both immensely.


    They were true believers in Christ and in me.  So this Illustrated Novel effort represents yet another attempt to get through the “Gatekeepers”. I’ll never quit trying, Gentlemen.  Rest in Peace…