Monday, 13 January 2014

Clever and cleverer

I find ‘clever’ people very attractive. If I said “I like big dicks and I cannot lie.”, I’d probably be referring to dictionaries.  People should be proud of their achievements, it’s when it turns to blatant boasting and unsubtle humblebragging that it gets ugly, and frankly highlights those people’s insecurities. And I notice it rarely comes from those standing at the top of the podium.

It’s also insecurity when people have to feel clever by belittling the people on Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and Jeremy Kyle, despite knowing those people may not have the same opportunities as others; one of them being to change channels. 

TV does have its manufactured twits too. I don’t know if Joey Essex genuinely can’t tell the time but he acts like he’s perfectly happy being a fool. He’s like a sexually-aware Forrest Gump.

I’ve always been interested in the nature or nurture argument. Are you born with a particular intelligence level or does it depend on your environment? Or as a friend paraphrased it ‘Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline.’ 
I met a child genius last year. ‘Michael’ was 8 and the rest of the people in his Islington drama class were 12.   The kids had to work in pairs to make up and act out a story with the title ‘Disaster’. I ‘sat in’ with Michael and a 12-year old girl (Lydia).

Lydia: OK, so maybe this space is our house..

Michael: So we’re married.

Lydia: No.

Michael: Why are we living together if we are not married?

Lydia: Ok, we’re married.

Michael: Right, so I come home from work. ..
(pretends to open door) COMMENCE COOKING PLEASE!

Lydia: (mimes stirring saucepan and putting something in bowls and hands it to him)

Michael: Why have you made soup? It’s the summer. It’s too hot. 

Lydia: Ok, don’t have it.

Michael: Oh no, our house is on fire. Now we must go camping.

Lydia: OK.

Michael: We will sleep here.

Lydia: OK.

Michael: Let’s go back to the house. Look, the fire started because you didn’t turn off the cooking. It’s your fault. Now we have no house.

Lydia: (shrugs) (I like Lydia’s style.)

Michael: You’re an idiot . You should have been more careful. 

I found myself wondering about where he got his intelligence from..and his misogyny. Then the teacher joined us; “Michael’s dad is a famous musician, isn’t he Michael? And has taught Michael to play piano, clarinet and flute already. And they are home schooling him, and he speaks a little Italian because they all lived there for a year .”

Michael interjects, “Yeah, my dad was on the radio three times in France last month and I probably will too when I’m older. And I’ll be really rich.”

I hate and admire his self-belief and cockiness. Looking at his notebooks, he clearly is gifted but so are millions of children, it’s just that he’s being nurtured and told he’s amazing more than most and is being given ambition. Admittedly child geniuses sometimes burn out but in his case he’ll just blame Lydia.

The teacher turns to her,  “Your dad is a musician too isn’t he? Tell Juliet what bands he was in, she might have heard of him. I’m not sure I know him though.”

She looks reluctant but eventually says,  “Um…he was in ….”

She only blooming well casually names one of the most successful groups of the past ten years and then mentions her dad also had a solo career.

I ask if her dad is who I think it is. And she nods.


'The humble' win. Albeit it momentarily. 


Clever clogs (although actually they are the stupidest of the shoes)

I just watched the new series of Sherlock. He’s terribly clever, isn’t he? But as Confucius said,  ‘Some are clever. Some are beautiful. Try too hard to prove either and you become neither.'

Actually no, he didn’t say that at all. I did. I just thought it sounded better coming from him. 
I recently went to the French Institute or l’institut Franรงais as some might say. Those ‘some’ being the Brits who insist on making a tragic three-part drama series (one for each syllable) out of saying the word ‘aubergine'.
Anyway, I was last at ‘l’institut’ fifteen years ago to see Au Revoir Les Enfants. It’s set in a French boarding school that hides Jewish boys during the German occupation - the message being that racism doesn’t exist until it’s planted in your brain, and even then, good people will rip it out like a weed.
In the last minutes of the film, the young Jews are discovered by the Nazis and their certain fate is death. As they are led away silently in front of the entire school the kindly priest (and purveyor of Junior Weedol) who has provided refuge is taken away too. As he turns back, he smiles lovingly at his pupils with his kind, creased eyes as some of them sob. He pauses, about to speak, but my friend jumps in, beating him to it and exclaims at the top of his voice  “AU REVOIR LES ENFANTS!!” 
I roll my eyes at the same time as the credits. He’d ruined the climax of the film with his clever-dickness. Mostly dickness. Perhaps he’d just got carried away but he was eternally one of those people who had to tell you how clever he was. And did always suffer from premature ejaculation. Verbally.
How do we measure ‘clever' anyhow?  IQ tests only gauge particular types of intelligence and depend on specific cultural references. They always have the ‘What’s next in the sequence?’ question eg. ‘Salt, tequila…’ a lot of people would pick ‘lime’ next, but I’d be looking for the ‘be sick’ option.  And as for the ‘Which is the odd one out?’ section – racists!
Sherlock would get Trivial Pursuit cheeses for deduction and factual knowledge but is bound to fail on emotional intelligence which is why he is incomplete without Watson. And the programme would be vastly improved if he and others didn't reference how clever he is every fucking minute of the show. Yeah alright Narcissus, get on with it!
He would however be popular with a quizzer friend of mine who is saddened that we carry fewer facts in our heads these days because we can just Google them. Bloody know-it-all computers! (Apart from when they get it wrong).
‘They’ can even beat ‘us’ at chess now. Not that I’ve ever played – the only time I have ever monitored kings, queens, bishops, knights and commoners is watching a royal wedding.  

Apparently computers win when there is a time restraint but given more time humans can still triumph. And even if we can’t, sod it, there’s always Twister. 
Besides, they’re no good with feelings, are they, those smart-arse computers? Actually a few of the little fuckers fake it quite well nowadays by having stock responses to various phrases.  

 Siri on my iphone was quite charismatic when I experimented by telling him I was unhappy. First he offered to tell me a joke starting ‘Two iphones walk into a bar..” (Everyone's a comedian!) And then when I told him again he suggested listening to music and consoled me “Sadness is a part of life, as I understand it.”

Sherlock Holmes and others better watch out, the computers are getting good at being human.