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Nihilism, Futurist Traditionalism and Conservationism

Growing up gifted

21 08 10 - 10:53

Saw this interesting article about gifted kids -- most of them grow and do well in school, then flounder in life:

First strategy: Do some hard work to acquire competence at things for which having a genius IQ doesn’t help a lot. Perhaps a physical skill like some form of athletics or dance; martial arts has at times served this function for me. Perhaps an artistic or mystical skill in which the difficulty lies in a shift of perception or attention rather than handling symbolic complexity; for me, being a musician is sometimes like this.


Second strategy: Reinvent yourself as a polymath. I never had to do this explicitly myself because (thanks to Robert Heinlein’s influence) I had this as a goal before I hit my doldrums. But if you are the more typical sort of young genius whose abilities have so far concentrated heavily in one field, broadening your base is valuable on many levels.


Third strategy: Develop your will and your courage and your self-image as a person who is *unconquerable*, unstoppable. Logic and brains will not get you out of the trap you find yourself in; if that were possible, you would probably be out already. What you need is intestinal fortitude, sheer guts and bloody-minded persistence. - ESR

The writer of this piece is a popularizer; he invents memes, like his famous "The Cathedral and the Bazaar," that oversimplify life but make a lot of people feel good about what they're doing.

The above quotation is a mix of happy horse-shit and some useful advice. Namely, the first strategy is good advice -- but unnecessary.

If you grow up gifted, you're surrounded by people who recognize your worth, until you leave school. Then you have to know that you're worthwhile, and instead of pleasing a requirement, gear yourself toward (a) creating a life for yourself and (b) doing right by your community. The latter contributes to the former and cannot be separated from it. With connection to your surroundings, both natural and community, you don't become a raging egomanic in order to justify yourself. Instead, you're able to see good results, and without the false/hollow notion of "charity" or "activism."

But really what you need to know is that you can no longer be in a passive role, where school lays out a challenge and you beat it. You now have to find a path in life, including career. Figure out the intersection between things you like and things you are or can be good at, and go hog-wild. Be aggressive and mindful in your unrelenting pursuit of these goals. The opportunity will probably not find you, and if it does, it won't be as easy to figure out as a school assignment. Set a goal for yourself and go wild.

His first strategy is good general advice for smart people. Find some regular work or play you like as well, so you can be a person in addition to being a brain. But don't take it farther than that, and his self-worshipping "be a polymath like me" is best ignored -- be good at what you have aptitude for, but don't artificially force yourself into being some prole discount substitute for a Renaissance man.

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