Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Meditations

In a bout of insomnia last night, I turned on the radio and listened to an interview with a Japanese violin virtuoso who was also getting his doctorate at MIT. In Physics. He said something to the effect that he felt driven and sometimes, inadequate.

I sort of know how he feels. I remember juggling both the clarinet and fifth grade. Sometimes it was overwhelming. Things could have worked out if I had been allowed to limit some of my scholarly obligations, but societal pressures weighed in against the idea.

This guy, his name is Goto, and I, well, we’re obviously of a different species. If we ever met, he’d throw peanuts in my general direction. And I’d catch them. Because, as an athlete, I have a certain amount of eye-hand coordination that will never desert me.

It’s so fucking unfair that I’m not brilliant. Brilliance is something I’ve wanted all my life. That, and a pony.

When one matures, one can do what seems to be the next best thing – sleep with a genius. However, in my vast vast vast experience, genius is seldom pretty and often wears socks in bed.

I just don’t know. And that’s the trouble, isn’t it.

40 comments:

  1. Take the pony, brilliance would get YOU into trouble;)))

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  2. Like most real geniuses you don't realize you are brilliant. :-)

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  3. Goto medication if meditation doesn't help your insomnia.

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  4. Where would we all be if we were all as brilliant as we wished?
    Insufferable, I imagine, with no room for humility. At least, that's the story I'm telling and I'm stickin' to it.

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  5. Ha! Love this. Love your writing. I once slept with someone who THOUGHT he was brilliant. Does that count...?

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  6. Depends. Did he take his socks to bed?

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  7. All this proves is that even a genius can get cold feet.

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  8. There's a young violinist in the LA Phil who is about 21 or 22 now. When they hired him he was 19 and had an advanced degree in physics. Oh well.

    I don't think brilliance is something to wish for. The few folks that have it probably don't have much different lives than the rest of us - they just do different things. And they're probably not as much fun to be around.

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  9. For me, there's an even more-than-usual, poignant mix of humor and seriousness here. It's super-effective, but I confess it leaves me wanting more of the personal details that are absolutely none of my business.

    Also, of course, I'm not at all sure you're NOT brilliant, plus what the others have said about the dubious desirability of brilliance.

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  10. Brilliance? Over-rated.
    Hand-eye coordination? Awesome to have!
    In 5th grade, my mom sat beside the most brilliant kid in school, Kenneth. Everyday, mom would pretend to drop her pencil to the floor. As she'd kneel down to pick it up, she would untie Kenneth's shoes and retie them to his desk leg. Every day she did this... and every day, Kenneth would flop. He never figured it out.
    Kenneth might have been brilliant. My mom? I'd call her mean.

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  11. You got the pony (a horse counts, right?), and "genius is seldom pretty."

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  12. I've never even slept with a genius. Slept with a few idiots, though.

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  13. Just what the world needs, more virtuosic violinists who can explain Schrödinger's cat. I think you're doing an amazing job actually helping make the world a better place (especially for neglected animals) -- I call that brilliance for sure!

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  14. I read this earlier today, along with other people's thoughts on this mother from hell's methods. Maybe being WASPish is it's own reward?

    http://www.slate.com/id/2280712/

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  15. PIO, you win. After that, what else is there to say?

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  16. Well, of course, as everyone else here says, you are brilliant. But you will never get that pony. You'll just have to live with it.

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  17. He also has a black belt in karate. And I got the school wrong -- it's Harvard.

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  18. Brilliance? it comes with a price. That Chinese mother's article in the Wall Street Journal was shocking. Here's a counter from a teacher at PCC: http://tinyurl.com/4j9uobv

    We're friends with a Japanese astronomer who is a genius - even reads ancient Hittite. As a child of Samurai parents, he was never allowed to play, only study. He therefore has no hand-eye coordination, can't catch a ball, has no sense of direction and can't drive. The world benefits from these geniuses, but is it good for them?

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  19. Paula, thanks from me too for the article. Guess I need to know about these things.

    I recently spent time with the two teen children of parents who have explained and negotiated and debated EVERY bone of contention with the younguns. "No" was never an option. To me, that extreme is not pretty either.

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  20. Before Sally Mann published photographs of her children in the nude she went to the local DA and asked if she could be prosecuted. She was told no but that she would have to be vigilant about pedophiles who wanted to get close to her children. I don't have a problem with Mann's photographs because they're not voyeuristic to me but I also know that once the children were engaged in whatever they were doing then they were often posed. It wasn't as spontaneous as one might believe and Mann and her husband had very, very high expectations for their children, demanded a lot from them. I don't know if she did anything wrong, but Chua, she's taken exploitation of her children to a whole new level. Calling your kids garbage? I'm sure that her attorneys vetted the book and was told that she was on solid ground but I'm still hoping that someone comes to the rescue of those girls, preferably their father and their teachers. Somebody. Anybody?

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  21. PIO, we canines just can't get no respect from you humans!

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  22. You know what they say, Karin--cold feet, big brains. (And BTW, your writing is its own kind of brilliance.)

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  23. Regarding Paula's link: The woman obviously went too far. Some parents don't demand enough from their kids and that's just as bad. There's a way to demand excellence from children and letting it be an enhancement to their lives, not a detriment.

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  24. The pony is more fun than the genius anyway. I have a friend with a pony, and she is fun. Especially in my friend's yard, because the pony piles are THERE, and not HERE!

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  25. I would like to interview all the members of the LA Philharmonic to see how they were raised. For myself, I was not pushed hard enough. I think there may be some merit in what this mom is saying, although some of the specifics may be over the top. I showed the article to two Chinese female attorneys in my office, and their reaction was not negative at all.

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  26. I hate getting into the subject of Sally Mann's photos of nude children but I do, in fact, know someone who is serving a 20 year prison sentence for just that.

    The photos were not published, yet anyway, but were transmitted over the Internet, making the "offense" a federal crime - called kiddie porn, or child pornography.

    A frontal photo of a child between the age of three and eighteen is considered a crime. And a federal prison is not a happy place. So, don't try it.

    I have seen only one of the photos and I thought nothing of it. Simply a youth in a waterfall, very artistically done, like something I might see at the Getty in Malibu. I have done everything I know to do on his behalf and it is painful to know of his unfair circumstance.

    btw, Hiker, I find much brilliance in your writing.

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  27. I think my previous comment is an excellent demonstration of how someone should have demanded more excellence from me in the grammar department.

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  28. Oh P, your last absolutely wins the comments contest. I'll go to bed laughing.

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  29. i know a couple brilliant people. They can be selfish, usually not "givers" but then not sure where giving has gotten me, beyond old and gray. But then, the Lord gives you strength for what must be done. hola!

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  30. Shanna, your cautionary tell confirms my suspicions - who knows why but some parents allowed to do things that get other parents arrested and prosecuted.

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  31. I don't associate genius with mastery and repetition. I associate it with innovation. I also think anyone who tells you they're a genius probably isn't.

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  32. I'll take warm feet over genius in bed any day.

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  33. It turns out that the Wall Street Journal seriously distorted Amy Chua's "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom" by highlighting the most strident parts, and ignoring the rest, including her questioning whether the "crazy Asian mom" approach is really the answer.

    Mother Superior Revisited

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  34. I think ... I love you. LOL!

    Go easy; it's just an expression of admiration.

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  35. I'll try to snaffle my enthusiasm, Bandit.

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  36. wiki'ed that - kinky

    wv: a general feeling of "milize"

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  37. It's not nice to make me roll in the aisles with laughter at work. Brilliant piece of writing!

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