Pondering intelligence

For the longest time people had put the label of intelligence on me. It’s the glasses. Had you ever seen a person in glasses and thought — it makes them look dumb?

I wonder if intelligence is wearing glasses.

It took me some time to stop taking it for granted and start thinking about it.

My oldest memory of it is being complimented as amazing child. I remember how it made me feel. I don’t really remember of course, memory worn out by years and recalls. I think it made me feel pleased.

It fit right into the deal to be a convenient child. Low property damage, low self damage, aptitude exceeding age bracket. In exchange for love and understanding. Hadn’t deconstructed that particular sham until many years later.

I wonder if intelligence is a skill of fitting it.

I got through the school years on memory and erudition. I had read encyclopedias for kicks. Thick yellow tomes, heavy on scientific detail. Still have no idea why someone was nuts to think there will be kids to open them. Weren’t many peers to discuss mechanics of solar eclipses and Pavlov’s experiments on dogs with.

I had read school text books ahead and recited paragraphs verbatim from memory as needed. Paradoxically I didn’t read literature assignments. Wrote essays on them entirely constructed from summaries and historical contexts.

I wonder if intelligence is memorization.

There are fiction stories running in my head. Science fiction with a dose of superhero I suppose. Set in a space, more for pretentious drama than particulars of astronomy.

I had never told them, tried exactly once and shut down in the middle of the sentence. Too much to tell, this is why people write such stuff. Not inclined to ever write them down though. They are just for me.

I wonder if intelligence is imagination.

Fast forward through it all coming apart in university years and into tail spin of chaotic IT career. My favorite sometimes boss complimented me on “mad skills”. Sometimes boss, always favorite. That expression is so hard to punctuate.

It felt good to stretch those skills after a year of slumber. Spent recovering and healing up my mind after exercising them the time before led me into a total hole.

I wonder if intelligence is professional competence.

I had tea, in a city quite far and even more ancient than my own, perfect for just that. My company was miffed with me not eager to hang out. I was miffed at not having tea with my hopeless crush instead.

We got cozy, our conversation got two levels deeper than my expectation. I listened about relationships. I talked about growing up and calming down.

I wonder if intelligence is a calm of aged mind.

In the middle of a conference party friend went into a spiel on me having an amazing brain. For recognizing same location in two different photos, tweeted two weeks apart. It made me uncomfortable.

I skipped observation on number of drinks. Then shielded with my usual confession of having no life and all time in the world to read my Twitter feed.

I wonder if intelligence is attention to detail.

Trying to remember the last meaningful conversation I had with my father. It’s pretty hard to. I won’t have another one.

He is in the coma. Years of living in alcoholic haze now collect their toll by shutting down his internal organs.

I wonder is intelligence is communication and understanding.

Truth to be told I still have no idea about me and intelligence and labels. Not even a working theory.

I know it shows up for survival. Pouring myself into things and events to make them happen.

It took me a long time to understand such little correlation it has with happiness. And no causation at all.

I believe it participates the least when I am angry at someone very much. Or love someone very much. Or both at the same time.

So I have this little in a manner of answers to offer. Sorry. And just so it goes on.

I live. I wonder.

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  • Anton Timmermans #

    So recognisable, knowing you're intelligent is one thing, knowing what that means is another.
  • chuck scott #

    Hi Rarst - greetings from Ridgefield Connecticut ... i really enjoyed this post - thanks for sharing ... sorry to hear about your dad - yikes, my prayers go out to you and your family ... looping back to essense of your post, i do believe you nailed it with the last line -> "I live. I wonder." ... to me, wonder is the critical ingredient of intelligence ... something about marveling at the intelligent design behind all things, is what makes intelligence intelligent ... the opposite is to be drone like, to accept things as they are handed down to us, to not question, to be obedient, complicent, etc., is to be flat and dull which brings me to "live" ... great intelligence, and perhaps the greatest intelligence, Mother Nature, is very much alive ... living is growing ... questioning is growing ... but even in death, Mother Nature uses said death to fuel yet more life ... this is why i thought your post ended beautifully - to be alive, to feel life, to be awed by the intelligence in all of life - from solar eclipses to the inner workings of a WordPress function elegantly commented - life in all it's forms is worthy of our ongoing wonderment ... and having said what i did, perhaps the only point i might add to your bit about intelligence is LOVE ... Love is the strongest, most awe-inspiring, force / aspect of our Universe IMHO ... and when i think of the most intelligent being i know of, my / our Creator, and to think that this force is benevolent is truly mindblowing ... or more aptly stated, heart-enlarging ... combine love with the wisdom of science and the scientific process and there you have it - the most intelligent DNA in the Universe ;) ... cordially, chuck scott