As Hartley said in our interview with him, the Advanced Genius Theory offers an explanation for some of the late-career work of Advanced geniuses like Bob Dylan and Lou Reed. The theory argues that these later works are so advanced that most people (including you) can’t understand or appreciate them.
Hartley does a fine job of recounting the theory in the book, going into great detail about what separates an Advanced genius from a regular genius, giving plenty of examples of where certain artists fall within the theory along the way. For example: Sting, Advanced. Elton John, not so much.
While Hartley applies the theory to everything from politics to sports, the book, and the theory itself, work best when dealing with musicians like Dylan and Reed. Hartley goes into great detail about why their later albums like don’t actually suck, even if you think they do.
Anyone who reads this book will almost certainly disagree with parts of it, but that’s part of the book’s charm. The theory is a fun thought experiment and perfect conversation fodder, and the book merely gets that dialogue going. Advancement is an engaging idea that will leave you reconsidering the discographies of your favorite artists long after you’ve put the book down.
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