What is Smart?

How do we measure intelligence? Why, seriously, do we care? Most of the time a number doesn’t determine how smart someone can be, or how much they can accomplish with what they have to offer.

Smartie pants, what we call people who rank, I guess, between the high 190’s and the 230’s. I’m kinda making up numbers now, so follow along if you can–it’s okay if you get lost along the way.

List of famous Smartie Pants:

Albert Einstein

Nikola Tesla

Thomas Edison

Bill Gates

Steve Jobs

Ronald McDonald

You get it. Lotsa smart folks walking around the world, inventing new-fangled thingamabobs and questioning the norm. They’re not typically looked on as so smart in the beginning; in fact, many of the people on that list are social outcasts, with the exception of Ronald McDonald: he has all those young adults to sit on benches with him in his restaurants.

But, I am asking, honestly, how is it measured? Any of you can do a Google search and give me the answers. Um…it says here, they pull you into a nondescript building with a nondescript medical professional who has nondescript Rorschach tests. Fair. Okay. Not the answer I needed, but o-kay.

We put certain people on pedestals, those we think to have a certain level of intellect; we call them Einsteins and Edisons–and why? They can recite Newton’s Laws while standing on their head? They solve Calculus equations on ham and rye sandwiches–ew, by the way–then eat it after explaining the Theory of Relativity in French? Points for whoever can do that last thing.  You are an impressive human being.

Do some individuals automatically acquire this aura of genius about them; but, because our collective eye is so blurred and foggy part of the time, we mistake them for average? For the typical klutz? I am puzzled by that–it’s why I asked you all the question, how is it measured?

I don’t believe it’s the way many others do. What they think is up to them. What I think…well, perhaps intelligence–real spunk–is not about how much a person can hold, but how they can use what little they know with tact and creativity. Use, not storage, is what I believe is the true measure of intelligence.

It’s not how well someone does on a pop quiz.

It’s not how high you score on an online intelligence test.

It’s the present, the future, and the past: what you have done, have created, to make someone think or act to make themselves change, for the better, or for the worse. Intelligence is the popsicle stick house of kindergarten, the argument with your friend at eight years old. It has substance and texture. It has a voice and hands. It has a personality. It’s like us because it is us.

What is smart?

Smart is doing what you did yesterday today; and, tomorrow, doing one part of it a little different.

Think daily,

A Southpaw



Oh Faulkner, You Writer Genius, You…

I have finally come to a point at which my eyes can read this text without seeing a bunch of scribbly scratches. Granted, I am sitting a foot away from my laptop. Dilation can mess up a good night of reading and writing; and it can give you bowling balls for pupils–score some  strikes with these puppies…

When not handicapped by dilation; however I divulge in the classiest of literature, the creme de la creme of writing–the works of William Faulkner. Did you know he is called the greatest writer of the twentieth century? I mean, Hemingway was good, but…I guess no one likes him.

Recently I have started reading  As I Lay Dying, disputed to be his most popular and symbolic work; aside of course from The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom! This is turning out to be a faithful claim. The story is entertaining–it is also quite sad–and the characters are diverse.

Allow me a little aside to mention the extra detail put into these characters. As it is told from multiple first person perspectives the story is separated into three or four page chapters in which the characters–each with their own writing style–describe the conflicts. You catch that? Each character has their own writing style, their own favorite words. And their personalities are brilliantly sketched out through their usage of Southern dialect, such as in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and stream-of-consciousness description.

With that stream-of-consciousness technique comes mild confusion when first experiencing this novel; know you will become lost in the beginning chapters and be forced to read a lengthy passage a second or third time for understanding. That, and the descriptions and the dialogue tend to mix, making for a puzzling shift between perspectives.

As well there are at least seven characters, seven characters with difficult names switching   perspectives at random moments in the story; so if Leo Tolstoy is your favorite writer, then this novel is a guaranteed hit.

Always the thing to draw from Faulkner is his writing style because it is so ruggedly refined. When reading you can tell he created the voice so frequently imitated by Twain and Steinbeck; and it is mastered in As I Lay Dying. The Southern family sounds like a Southern family; the setting looks like a Southern background.

Be sure to pick him up if you have the chance.

And if you have the chance, or the choice, never get dilated. It feels like meat patties on the eyes.

Think daily,

A Southpaw