As I continue to work on having useful, rich conversations and make relevant discriminations between this and that, I’ve come across yet another poverty-stricken aspect of the modern English language: “intelligence”, our ability to talk about the capacity of human beings to move through the world competently and with bright questing minds.
In the culture of the I.Q. test, and owing to the amount of times government agents (also known as teachers) have analyzed and judged us, it doesn’t surprise me that we have such a poor vocabulary for speaking about this subject usefully.
Most folks with some amount of curiosity have come to the conclusion, at least, that humans can have multiple forms of intelligence. Musical, Emotional, Spatial, Mathematical, Linguistic, Kinesthetic, and many more, surely.
And yet at the core of this discrimination of intelligence, we continue to call some folks dumb (whether mathematically, or otherwise), and some folks smart.
I think this discrimination still fails to usefully talk about this issue.
As I continue to work with the “Where Are Your Keys?” community mentoring tools, and play (in language) with hundreds of people, of varying ages and temperaments, in a highly structured environment, for hundreds of hours, I have begun to feel I have enough useful observations to put together a way of looking at intelligence that I can actually apply to my life, and accrue benefit from.
I no longer believe in multiple intelligences; I’ve seen too many linguists struggle with the language game to believe in that simplistic explanation. Something else sits at the core of what it means to have a bright, questing mind, and the ability to quickly absorb new understandings.
I believe it comes down to “willingness”. Or even better, let’s capitalize it: “Willingness”.
“Willingness”, as I intend to coin the term, means the willingness of a human being to move. I mean movement in every possible dimension – emotional, physical, mental and more.
By moving my mind, my body, my emotions, my social environment, my values, my voice, I quickly absorb new skills as they map onto me in all those dimensions.
This to me further illuminates the danger of fundamentalism in any sphere. I may “believe” in the collapse of civilization, the fundamental insanity of industrial culture, the wisdom and vitality of traditional/primitive living skills, all things that one could argue a curious, aware person would begin to observe, but if my “belief” causes me to fix a position, or become rigid in my “correctness” and “rightness”, and see these things as unchanging, unarguable truths…
Then I’ve ceased to move, haven’t I?
I believe modern culture, especially as articulated by its recent apologists and thinkers such as Aristotle (yes, Aristotle came late to the scene of civilized endeavor – the memes existed long before him), believes the world is most safe, most sane, most successful, when it appears unchanging, carved from marble, easily categorizable, and behind glass. Like meat in a butcher’s case, or a courtroom, or a man in uniform.
To me, however, these characteristics indicate a society at its most unstable, its most traumatized, its most fragile and desperate. Though folks like Aristotle believe that the world contains countless objects with unchanging essences (plumbers, politicians, sentient beings, unsentient beings, supposed “dead matter” such as rocks and stars and water), the empirical (and to many professional scientists at this time in history, the “scientific”) preponderance of evidence points to a world in a flux, where nothing “is” as it seems.
To live in accord with this dynamic flux, means to “move”.
A mind (and a body, and a heart, and so on…) willing to move in accord with this dynamic flux, will most readily adapt and thrive. A mind that moves a certain amount, if willing to move even more, will thrive yet more.
The willingness to move, not the movement itself, indicates intelligence. The movement of yesterday may not match the moving universe today.
So, friends and readers, I encourage you keep moving, keep looking, keep dancing, keep talking, keep listening. Share your insights with each other.
We’ll all get there together.