This article was submitted to Ergo by Iqra Khilji, a second-year (Batch 2015-2020) at the Gujarat National Law University and marks the second in a series titled The Good, The Smart and The Ugly.
“Have you reckoned a thousand acres much? Have you reckoned the earth much?
Have you practised so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems? Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books.
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.”
-Whitman, Song of Myself
Whitman asks you to rely on yourself and not the books that the self-proclaimed scholars have fed on. Don’t be smug to have read and understood poetry, he says. It says nothing about your worth.
“That guy” shouldn’t have been placed at CAM because he sleeps through the lectures every single day and can’t possibly survive the corporate life. Oh you’re friends with her? But isn’t she like, really dumb…hehehe?
Dinner-table conversations have often evolved into extravagant detours into the realm of philosophy. For several of us, it’s natural instinct to look down upon those incapable of fathoming the beauty of what intrigues us, or those comfortable with actions that might be seen as preposterous by our sanctimonious souls. Sadly, none of us halted our reveries of superiority to reflect upon the possibility (and here I shall give in to the inevitable stating of more truisms) of a spectrum of intellect, moral as well as material.
This near-universal process, and I’m not sure if its sad universality can be afforded the privilege of doubt, has culminated into materially demarcated strata of people (and mark the word ‘strata’ and not ‘groups’, for groups are a natural consequence of a difference of interests, but stratification comes when one interest groups assumes pseudo-intellectual thrones), supposedly with lateralization of intellect on the dominant side of the social arrangement. It is almost amusing to witness this in pea-sized arrangements like ours. Almost.
Injustice breeds in the crevices of the jagged interfaces of these “strata”. This has nothing but hindered our ability as a species to learn diverse functions and not localize our aptitude to what we’ve been comfortable with since our foetal state. It has beaten the essence of evolution and our simian forefathers would be disappointed in us. You’re not supposed to adapt to artillery (despite sci-fi convincing us that we’ve almost reached that stage of evolution) but to living with those you’d rather not look at to avoid artillery coming into the picture. The issue is not about people being “nice”. That is not what we can realistically expect or seek from all. Problem is, that we have exhausted the pool of resources that humans have to offer by looking for them in the dominant strata, while a humungous amount of wonders awaits us, underutilized and underappreciated in people on the “other” side, whom we have led into believing that they’re worth less than us. I have seen this phenomenon at work at a microsocial level, in multiple setups, and I can safely assume that the totality of these setups follows this function like the golden ratio.
There is no universal algorithm for either intellect or aptitude. Without giving in to irredeemable pedanticism over this assertion— multiple intelligences are not illusory. ‘Dumb’ is not absolute. Period. Howard Gardner defied the mainstream connotation of intelligence. He was ridiculed by his peers, but glorified subconsciously by every inspirational portrayal of the underdog that exceeds expectations, in the best works of art of our times. The g-factor, however, may well be mythically absurd; for intelligence is neither unambiguous, nor exclusive/exhaustive in its constitution.
There cannot be one summation of all skills and aptitudes, the truisms for which could be true for its parts. That’s where the fallacy of composition kicks in. The truth of the whole is NOT that of the sum of its components. The general intelligence on a person may be low or seem to be low due to the lack of perception, and they might turn out to be the next Mozart. I could be the US President (though I don’t know if that’s a reliable standard for intellect) and be tone-deaf. What better illustrator than our beloved Forrest Gump here? The general intelligence is not a reliable/absolute reflector of an individual’s potential, because of the said fallacy.
Moreover, you can’t assess one’s intellect by the amount of effort they put in to achieve the things that YOU value. They might have other pursuits. To expect them to moot and intern sincerely and judging them for not doing so would be like integrating all pursuits to the dominant idea of what one must pursue, not unlike the Nazi regime. People are allowed to want different things. Period. All of that contributes to the greater corpus of knowledge built by our species. Homogenous is not an issue, homogenized is.
“I don’t believe that it is debatable whether glorious intelligence could stem from anything other than a streak, if not the constant influence, of utter insanity. Ordinary intelligence may be driven by a need to survive or sustain a certain lifestyle, but madness or alleged madness always accompanies intellect of a higher order.”
-Pearls of wisdom from my own babe-mouth (that I found while stalking myself)
Supposedly smart people: you can’t dismiss everything beyond your horizons as madness. Make peace with the fact that you are not capable of comprehending and appreciating the universe in its entirety. ‘Know-it-all’ is an offensive term conveniently popularised by those who were satisfied with the amount of superficial knowledge they held or seemed to hold. Abolish that absurdity which is shaming one for knowing too much or sharing it with the world.
Supposedly dumb people, here’s an earful for you: don’t buy their superiority. But more importantly, stop hating them for being conventionally smart. They stay in packs for the satisfaction of their intellectual voracity. Now you can go on and label that bitchy, or you can become impervious to them and rise in your own realm. Excelsior. They can’t ignore a soccer legend who may not be able to read. That said, the spectrum of intelligences must be appreciated to illuminate the ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ (Sorry, again, Floyd people). No one wants to go on admiring a phenomenal singer and be forced to respond to the interjection, “But isn’t he…like, really dumb?”
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