There is a theory that the disproportionate length (and general warpedness) of the figures in El Greco’s paintings was occasioned by the physical dysfunction of his eyes.
The goal of this kind of theory seems to me to be to exterminate the extraordinary (by making it a small- statistically predictable and definite category of the ordinary)… To make the experience of the “genius” relatable to the you as an “ordinary” person…
“El Greco painted that way because he saw funny. There is nothing surprising in it, he HAD to paint that way….. So you see, again, there is no mystery and you really are just like him…. Except that he saw funny…. The chances of life, huh?”
The upshot of this is that it gives you common ground with El Greco and at the same time makes clear you could never be like him…hopefully this will eliminate any nagging worry you might have that you too should do something great… genius is innate… but also (perhaps for that reason) nothing to get especially excited about…You are what you are, he-is-what-he-is (and DEFINITELY as we all know IT is what IT is!)
I think this is a poor way to think about this issue (even if there is at least some basis for doing so)
Yes, El Greco had an unique instinct (leave aside why for the moment)… but what really distinguishes him is that he had the temerity to regard himself as called, mandated or just allowed to express that inclination… or rather to develop it and express it through his art… (and indeed, I would guess, to discover what it was more and more through doing so)
(part of the tyranny of this naturalistic account is that it imagines that distinctive genius has the character of Athena- emerging from the head full-formed….of course the whole thing is complicated by the fact that this is exactly how inspiration is often experienced… but the point is that the soup from which it comes is not like that at all… so Athena can and will have all kinds of prefiguring ghosts)
What is being talked about here is an aesthetic. That is not given to you as a blue print… it is something felt… and I think that it is often (precisely because its unique individual thing) experienced as something unreal and beside the point… so the first task with an aesthetic is actually to believe that it exists… or that it can exist.
That is not to say that aesthetic does not develop for a reason- there is always a reason and certainly some reasons are… more insistent than others… absolutely. My point is that I think we all have this thing aesthetic/ inclination… or at least the particular turns of mind and associations and sentiments from which an aesthetic can be made…. but we are required to recognize it develop and ultimately just dare to have it.
To return to the beginning- Explaining El Greco by means of an astigmatism makes you into the same sort of person (in terms of your relation to life) as he was and at the same makes clear that you can not be like him. But I would say-
“You are not like El Greco (indeed you* suck) but you could be more like him.”
*You mostly means me.
This argument has a shorter form. It would run as follows
Hypothetical Person: “El Greco’s style is totally unique and internally consistant in such a way that it suggests he saw things differently…. he must have been astigmatic
Me: El Greco makes perfect sense to me and I am not astigmatic
HP: Yes, but how did he think of it?
Me: How did you get to be such a moron?
(This is my preferred style of argumentation)