Saturday, 5 July 2014

Brain Boxes

What comes first: a great intellect or a great memory? Can you have one without the other?

We have just waved goodbye to a couple of visitors, family, who are doing a tour of the UK and came for a flying visit lasting less than 24 hours.  Eve is of ordinary intelligence, artistic, Adam's the brain box.

It’s impossible to have an argument with Adam. He’s read every book on every subject remotely connected with natural sciences, history, the environment, literature, etc. etc. He remembers them all and can quote every argument expounded in them. It’s most tiresome.

Not every book written is worth the pulp it’s made from, whether wood, cloth or grass. New research unearths new facts and findings all the time; some last, others are overthrown.  My mum used to say “paper is a patient medium, you can tell it anything, it never complains”.

We were talking about the theatre. Beloved and I are enjoying a particularly rich period of play-going, mostly Shakespeare. We love it.

“Ah”, says Adam, “ did you know that there are great doubts that Shakespeare wrote the plays?”

Yes, we had heard. Theories as to who wrote ‘Shakespeare’ are as old as the hills.

Most people are content to accept that an Englishman with that name was born in 1564, died in 1616 and wrote plays, sonnets and poems in the interim that changed English literature forever.

Some, however, see things differently. They don't doubt that the man from Stratford-upon-Avon existed, or that the plays attributed to Shakespeare are foundational and sublime. But elements of the Shakespeare canon are incompatible with his known biography, they say. An intimate knowledge of court affairs. Fluency in French. Familiarity with Italy. Shakespeare, they claim, was not written by Shakespeare.

Not only that, but  no hand written manuscripts are in existence and his signature appears only twice, with different spelling.

It seems that a Stanford Physics Professor has developed a scientific way of evaluating Shakespeare.

Adam had obviously either read the new book or detailed reviews of it. We hadn’t and aren’t likely to do so. He had us silenced pretty quickly. I couldn’t even work out if Adam himself believed in the theory he threw at us, or if he was merely playing Devil’s Advocate. Don’t you just hate it when somebody’s superior intellect and phenomenal memory grind you into the dust?

There were other debates and arguments, none of which we won. We are exhausted.

Eve spent a lot of the visit texting and phoning.




44 comments:

  1. I suppose I can't blame Eve, and a rose by any other name is still a rose, isn't it?

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  2. I also heard that mathemeticians are spending a lot of their time determining why earbuds tangle.

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  3. Sigh. He sounds like the sort of person who would give me a severe attack of the inadequacies. And I don't care who wrote the Shakesperian plays - but am very, very grateful to whoever it was.

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  4. Yes, there are those that expound and expound...usually they are quite (not always) but most exhausting and you do feel it is more of a jousting match than a friendly visit. After a while I usually just quit talking and start drinking more. Maybe someday with better technology we can solve the problem of Shakespeare...but I do not care much about authorship at this late date.

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  5. Oh no! They're everywhere.

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  6. Brain Box -- I like the term. Over here we 'd call him a know-it all. I know a few; some are entertaining; others are entertaining for just a short while.

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  7. We've just had a visit from one similar....in the financial sphere. Very exhausting...particularly when you happen to think he is deluded and are precluded from saying so by duty as hosts...

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  8. That is the sort of social occasion at which I provide, what I like to call, an alert silence.

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  9. ha. i bet it would be fun to listen to his theory...and of course it would be worth it the one time you trumped him...ha. just enjoy the play...who cares who wrote it...smiles.

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  10. Friko, may I be silly and tell you that your recounting of the visit of Adam and Eve made me wonder what Adam and/or Eve might make of the existence of the hero of the New Testament?

    You already know how I envy your visits to wondrous Shakespeare productions.

    Greenly yours, xo

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  11. I just let this kind spout off and hopefully they will get fatigue and shut up. One shouldn't give them the satisfaction of a comment when they are going to cream you right or wrong.

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  12. I figure people like that feel profoundly inadequate.

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  13. No doubt she finds him tiresome as well. Who cares, really, if Shakespeare wrote them or some other person did or if they are a collection. Really, what difference does it make to the enjoyment of the plays. That's how you stop a bore. so what and who cares. People like that are insufferable. Do they really get pleasure out of bringing every conversation to a halt?

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  14. " At this stage in my life, I think it's all about the soft stuff. I don't give a damn about what you know or what you do if you can't be kind. I want the art of you before I'll tangle with the science of you. Talk to me so that I might know who you are. Be naked in the vocabulary of kindness"
    Sandy Carlson


    ALOHA from Honolulu
    ComfortSpiral
    =^..^= <3

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  15. That visit sounds like a bit of an ordeal. It also sounds as though Eve was happy enough to let you take a turn listening to Adam, while she tuned out for a bit.

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  16. I don't think information gathering is a good substitute for intelligence. Sounds like he uses information as power, and a substitute for thinking for himself.

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  17. Texting and phoning, while you are someone else's guest?! That is OK if it serves a specific purpose, such as arranging a taxi for the airport or your next accomodotation, but then that should be done and over with in one single (or maybe to) calls.
    Hmm... someone who ends all discussion by their intellectual superiority. How boring, really, if you know from the start how an argument will end.
    Papier ist geduldig - das stimmt heute noch genauso wie früher!

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  18. I hate those sorts of 'conversations' — or should we call them monologues or gladiatorial battles? Juliet above — who writes about 'information is power' — is on to it. Some people use their so-called 'superior' knowledge and intellect to bully and show off. Whether these people are intelligent or wise is quite a different matter. I know and have known several people like this. I try to avoid them but, if I can't, I tend to react the other way, and purposefully don't engage in the competition. Then, perhaps, if and when the opportunity arises, I may try to drop a subtle bombshell by disproving something said in a quiet, offhand remark.

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  19. Oh darn, you've just reminded me about a sister-in-law I will see next month. I better start praying for patience now! Thank heavens these people aren't constants in our lives, huh.

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  20. Not fond of mixers, lovers of argument for argument sake. A judo approach may be best, agree with everything they say, then bring up another subject.

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  21. I appreciate your venting here. I've known such tiresomes and an hour would be more than enough in their company. Poor you. Stoic. Accepting. And you probably didn't get rude once.

    More forbearance I would NOT have shown.

    XO
    WWW

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  22. I'm with you. That's what I watch documentaries for. Not how I want to spend time socializing. LOL! Good thing they didn't stay any longer. ;)

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  23. With folks like that, I tend to get glassy-eyed very quickly and then wander off.

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  24. Oh, my, Friko, sorry for your bad experience....Hang in there and stay with what you feel to be true!

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  25. -chuckle- every family has an Adam and I'm sure you are extremely grateful that it was a flying visit lasting less than 24hours!

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  26. I'm exhausted just reading about Adam, let alone arguing with him! Thank goodness he didn't tarry.

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  27. His wife was probably thankful for the break. He could argue with you and have the last word on everything. I know people like that. I was even married to one once. They are exhausting.

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  28. Tiresome, indeed. I can take people like that in very small doses only. Sounds like Eve has had more than enough.

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  29. I have been known to talk too much but I've learn to look for clues in listeres so that I stifle myself promptly and remain mostly silent until a comment is called for.
    Nicknamed Besserwisser was not in my best interest.
    Gotta love Shakespear regardless

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  30. I have some very, very intelligent friends who know all of that kind of stuff… but they don't pontificate. It's actually quite interesting. Maybe it's because they know how to temper it with good old fashioned people skills? Poor Eve. What attracted her to him initially probably drives her up the wall now lol. Well, at least she's found a way to cope? (It took me until I was writing this comment to realize that you used "Adam and Eve" as their names… and that those are most likely pseudonyms. I'm a little off my game today.)

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  31. Sometimes you just can't win. I absolutely hate that. There is pontificating and then there is discussion. And maybe no minds are changed but all thoughts are considered. Yes, I agree with those who said "poor Eve." At least they left your house! I really don't care who Shakespeare was, I just love what he DID and wrote. And I'm so grateful we live in a world that still recognizes that beautiful use of language, character and plot. And I'm a wee tad envious you get to enjoy so very much this summer!

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  32. P.S. -- I was thinking of you as I watched David Tennant in a wonderful drama called "The Escape Artist" on our PBS here. It was awfully good! And I remembered your post on him!

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  33. Sometimes it is good to have such visitors. you enjoy your quiet life more after they leave.

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  34. Ah! Company! Where would we be without it? :)

    Seriously, as one who can bore for England on 20th century music, I'll refrain from throwing stones in this particular greenhouse!

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  35. Argghh! In my book a persistent know-all is insufferable, however great the brain or the memory. One should always leave room for others to have an opinion or share their insights. I'm not surprised Eve spends so much of her time on the phone.

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  36. As you commented, re the man with the cat: A git! Is that German? Haha!
    I think the rejoiner to fix your know-all could be: "I don't give a shit who wrote Shakespear's plays. I'm just glad somebody did! Have you read them?"

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  37. I'd say - as someone who has been known to go on a bit at times - that it's rather a limitation in intellect if you can't allow for or pick up on other people's responses to what you're saying, no matter how fascinating the book(s) you're talking about:

    Oh, would some pow'r the giftie gie us
    To see ourselves as others see us


    of if you prefer:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDxBnYsjdKM

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  38. "Don’t you just hate it when somebody’s superior intellect and phenomenal memory grind you into the dust?"
    Yes yes yes. it's most annoying, especially since I don't know much about anything so I'm left floundering. I'm one of those people who just aren't able to retain information well.

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  39. When someone like that corners me, I seize the opportunity to practice deep mindful breathing and let the sound of the other's voice wash over me like white noise. An occasional nod or thoughtful 'Ahh...' usually suffices to maintain the pretense that I am listening.

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  40. Yikes.. that would be so difficult. Aren't you glad their visit wasn't for longer? Hopefully, they'll take a detour on their way back.

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  41. Hi Friko - the other Hilary here! I hope you've both recovered by now - 2 weeks later ... and honestly spending so much time texting and phoning - why bother to visit?! Oh .. I really get frustrated with the Adam sorts ...

    Glad you're back to your own brilliantly funny selves ... enjoy said homely interactions together .. cheers Hilary

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  42. Shakespeare = Mozart.

    All visitors bring joy some when they arrive others when they leave.

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