21 October 2011

Geniuses should be reclusive

‘And there are other things. I couldn’t go to discos to meet girls because my ears are very sensitive to noise and they hurt.’ (Low tolerance of noise, along with several other of Simon’s idiosyncrasies, are symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome – a mild form of autism – but he has never been diagnosed.) [Daily Mail]

There is a wish to believe – and hence, in effect, a belief – that a high IQ, and the sort of interest in reality that may go with it, are pathological and arise from some sort of personality disorder.

Simon Norton admitted to various characteristics regarded as symptomatic of this. Perhaps that is why journalists are willing to interview him and are not willing to interview me; I would not fit so well the preferred image of the genius with serious deficits in non-intellectual areas.

Perhaps the characteristics regarded as symptomatic of Asperger’s syndrome might result from the demoralising effects of a modern education on a person with a high IQ (and hence precocious).

The attempt to get by in life without thinking about basic practical essentials (rather than trying to become rich enough to have a housekeeper and other ancillary staff) is encouraged by Oxford University and, presumably, other universities as well. Academic rejects are not encouraged to attempt to remedy their position in any way, but to ‘follow their interests’ while living in a cheap bedsit.

Perhaps the inattention to hygiene etc. has something to do with the lack of a suitable identity as a socially accepted intellectual.

It has often been assumed that I must be, for example, reclusive. When I was living without an income any side effects of that were interpreted as indicating my identification with the dropout position.

Lady Hardy, wife of Professor Hardy, met two associates of mine in Oxford when all my plans to obtain finance for my independent research institute had been defeated. ‘I saw that Celia the other day,’ said Lady Hardy, with distaste, ‘she was looking very scruffy.’

Did she expect me to buy a new raincoat at the expense of such savings as I could make? In fact my raincoat then was of very good quality, a Burberry, and although showing the effects of age, perfectly functional for its intended purposes.