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 +

Monday, April 07, 2008

On the value of Beauty

Beauty has great value, which may not be measurable in dollars and cents, but is there all the same. However, not everyone realizes this.

Last week, Wisma Atria, the Orchard Road shopping centre, announced that they were going to dismantle the landmark aquarium in their shopping mall, and send the fish to a better home, elsewhere. Instead, they said they were going to "improve our retail offering". By this, I assume that they mean to put another shop, where the aquarium now stands.

In the nine years since I first came to Singapore I have come to understand that many decisions here are made purely on numbers. No other means of thought is consulted. Indeed, it is clear that most decision makers have no other means to think, than by numerical means. The primary number they are concerned with is this: how much money they can make. The dollar is the true ruler of Singapore.

I have stood by and watched many stupid decisions be made on the basis of this excessive love for the dollar. Removing the aquarium at Wisma is one of them. Clearly, no-one in the Wisma management has given any thought to what the aquarium does for their mall, nor what it represents for their customers. The aquarium is the most memorable thing about Wisma, in fact, it is true to say it is the ONLY memorable thing about Wisma. People have used it as a landmark by which to find their way through the subterranean reaches of its shopping mall, since the day it was first built. Friends would meet there. People would take photographs with it, in the background. The aquarium was very much a little "star". Indeed, I took a photograph of my father standing before it, on his recent visit.

The management of Wisma are clearly thinking in terms of the rental foregone for the space taken up by the aquarium. I think they are not looking at the big picture. Those elegant multi-coloured fish, swimming away all day, implanted Wisma in people's minds. It was ever pleasant to see the aquarium hove into view, as one stepped out into the underground space in which it stands.

I think it likely that the aquarium drew more people to visit Wisma Atria, than the shop that replaces it will. I very much doubt whether the overall take of the mall will increase when the environment is diminished by the absence of the aquarium. I think it more likely that the take will decrease, in fact. With the aquarium gone, there will be no reason to choose Wisma Atria as one's meeting place, when convening in Orchard Road - other locations would be easier to find and therefore meet at.

Wisma Atria is well on the way to becoming a forgettable place, for they have forgotten the value of beauty.

Wisma is likely soon to discover that beauty has a commercial value, too: for where would you rather shop - a beautiful mall, with a pleasant environment, or one in which there is nothing but shops crammed together, all shouting for your money? Taking the aquarium away, is one big step away from the former, for Wisma, towards the latter. I don't see it as an improvement.

For me, now, another shopping mall is now more memorable: Takashimaya. Why? Because they have an underground fountain. That is where I am going to meet people in Orchard in future. I suggest you all do the same. It is very easy to find - and easy to remember, too.

Let us just hope that Takashimaya, don't wish to "improve their retail offering" by pulling out the beautiful fountains and replacing them with a shop. If they do, I am not going to shop on Orchard at all, anymore.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and one month, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and seven months, and Tiarnan, two years exactly, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 4:02 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with what you have written Cawley. However, I sometimes believe one should also be mindful of the dark side of beauty.

For example, we all know that Darkness character likes to disturb girls by regularly breaking into their accounts. At times even hijacking it for days on end.

I mean could he really get away with it if he looked like the hunch back of Notre Dame.

Get it?

2:02 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Anonymous,

You have raised an interesting issue. There is a phrase, in England, "He/she could get away with murder", which refers to the beauty of the subject being so great that they can do anything without censure. I have seen this phenomenon at work, before.

You are right that beauty, like anything that gives power, may be abused. However, I don't think the aquarium is abusing its power of beauty!

The fact is Wisma loses a lot more in the aquarium than it could possibly gain with another shop.

Best wishes

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"could he really get away with it if he looked like the hunch back of Notre Dame."

No but I think you are really giving Bambi Darkness way too much credit.

The way I see one of his heist, its more like the accidental story of the stammering highway man who is so confused, we all have to help him with his lines.

Believe it or not its actually more like that whenever he breaks in, most people are very confused whenever he strikes as he has absolutely no idea, no plan and probably doesnt even know why he does the things he does.

I think there could be some form of accidental beauty here that's very appealing, the man child variety thats very different from the contrite and manufactured version that we all know just smacks of spin and hype.

12:01 PM  

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