The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Friday, October 27, 2006

Celebrity: gift or creative genius?

We live in a celebrity obsessed world. A world of Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, and baby Suri; a world of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and baby Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt; the world of Mel Gibson, Madonna, and Sharon Stone. A world in which Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, James Dean and Marlon Brando are still remembered. From the coverage these people receive, one would think they were the most important people on Earth: but are they? Are they the best of people? Is celebrity the product of natural gift, inner creative genius - or is it a gift of luck, itself?

Some celebrities are certainly gifted. James Woods is profoundly gifted, with an IQ of 180. He may well be the brightest working actor in Hollywood, though perhaps not in the wider world. Madonna's IQ, I once read, is 140 - so she is moderately gifted, on her way to highly gifted. Sharon Stone's is apparently around 150 making her highly gifted. One could argue whether or not these people were geniuses - in the creative sense - and decide, most probably, that they were not: but they are definitely gifted in the sense of IQ.

Is it necessary to be gifted to be a celebrity? The short answer is a clear no, as most would have observed if you have watched celebrity interviews. Many of them are clearly not very intelligent. It seems that luck and perseverance alone, are enough. A pretty face helps, too.

Is celebrity a reward to giftedness? Most certainly not. Most gifted people live relatively successful lives, but few attain fame - there are so many factors involved in that besides talent, or gift, or even simple intelligence.

Ainan Celeste Cawley, my six year old son, is a scientific child prodigy, with a prodigious gift in science, and a grasp of conceptual matters beyond most adults. He is not, however, a celebrity. Scientists generally don't achieve acclaim, even if they produce volumes of quality work. Why is this? Fame is determined by what the public want to know and generally they don't want to know about scientists or science. Apart from Linus Pauling, Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer, how many scientists, in modern times, have truly made an impression on the public? Very few compared to the vast numbers of scientists who have lived and worked in that period.

Fame, then, is not an inevitable reward for giftedness. To be gifted, a genius, a child prodigy - or a savant - is its own reward. These gifts confer the ability to see more in life, understand more, feel more - and contribute more to life, than the ungifted, untalented, ordinary are able to.

Who is more important to the world: a celebrity, who is ungifted, but famous, or a gifted person who is talented, but unknown? I would say the gifted person, for though they may not be leading a high-profile life, their actual true contribution to life is likely to be greater. This becomes clear once we see through the glamour of fame, and judge the actual merits of their achievements.

Whether or not my children become famous for their achievements, their genius, prodigy, gift provides the only significance that is necessary. That they are gifted is significant. Being a child prodigy, is significant, whether or not that is recognized widely, it does not change their intrinsic worth, which could not be higher.

For me Ainan Celeste Cawley, 6, Fintan Nadym Cawley, 3, and Tiarnan Hasyl Cawley, 9 months are my pantheon of celebrities/little Gods. That few know them, matters little, for their worth and their unique gifts are most evident.

If your children are gifted, or show genius, or prodigy of any kind, then know that that makes them as important to life as anyone. Though the creative among us may often not receive the acclaim they deserve, they remain the most important of people: a world of god-like celebrities notwithstanding.

(If you would like to learn more Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, a scientific child prodigy, and his brothers, go to: )

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:32 AM 


Blogger arifa said...

I would say that geniuses have a tendency to be reclusive, so these celebrities, who live for the spotlight, would hardly ever qualify.

5:52 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Arifa, that is the funniest comment I have read in a long time. Yes. It is true. Most geniuses live in and for solitude - for it is only in quiet reflection that they can perfect their works. The tumult of others can only mar their concentration and detract from the lifelong works true geniuses set themselves.

That being said, some geniuses become celebrities though they might not be entirely comfortable with it. Samuel Beckett, the Nobel Prize Winner for Literature, for instance, regarded his own fame as as a "tragedy". It came late in life to him, and he really, really didn't like it.

Best wishes

9:25 AM  

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