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 +

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The tragedy of Macaulay Culkin.

Macaulay Culkin is, in my eyes, a tragic figure - but not for any reason that anyone else, would necessarily know, before I write of it. Indeed, he is doubly tragic. I shall explain.

Firstly, there is the obvious fact that Macaulay Culkin's greatest successes are behind him. The peaks of his life all lie in childhood. Unlike some who achieved renown, whilst very young, Macaulay Culkin did not go on to an adult career the area of his initial expertise. Once the cuteness of childhood was gone, so was Macaulay Culkin's great career.

Imagine, if you will, what it must be like to have been so gloriously successful, whilst still a child - and then to be so notably unnotable, as an adult. In a sense, he has lived past his life, as most people think of life - a time of aspirations and achievements, strung together from birth until death.

We cannot know what he may be aspiring to do, now, for he is nothing but quiet. There is not a word of his doings, as an adult. He seems to create nothing and do nothing that would amount to creative work. But then, he doesn't need to work, for he is rich. How rich is a matter of speculation, but a couple of years ago, I read estimates that he was worth 30 million US Dollars. Whatever he is actually worth now (and if he was invested in the wrong things, in the recent turbulence, it could, of course, be a lot less now), I am sure that he is worth enough to be considered "rich" by the common man and even by the quite uncommon one.

I have come to view Macaulay Culkin as tragic for a reason known, most probably only to me. This reason is simple. Ever since I posted once on Macaulay Culkin a year or two ago, I have had a lot of traffic for him. Indeed, about 2 to 3 % of the traffic to my site concerns Macaulay Culkin. The former star might be pleased to learn this - but I wouldn't, if I were him - because ALL of the searchers have had the same set of search terms - or variations on them. They have only ever been looking for one thing about Macaulay Culkin. The search terms are always, in effect: "What is Macaulay Culkin's net worth?" or "What is Macaulay Culkin worth now?" I have never, once, not even once, seen a search for ANYTHING else about Macaulay Culkin except his net worth. It appears that no-one is interested in anything, now, about him, than his net worth.

This seems to me a very sad situation. After a childhood of great and globally renowned filmic achievement that established him as one of the great child stars, as an adult, he has no discernible career or creative outlet (that I have ever heard of...which probably means that it is not happening). The only thing that people find of interest, now, about him, is how rich he is. That is it: how rich is Macaulay Culkin? That is the only question they have arrived on my blog in search of.

I wonder at what motivates these searchers. Are they people who have met him and wonder if he is worth trying to sponge off of? Are they fans who wonder on what financial pedestal to raise him? Are they financial workers, seeking background on him, in an effort to gauge what they might be able to sell him? I have no way of knowing...however, I know this: they don't care about his work, about his films, about his past greatness - they only care, now, about his money. Macaulay Culkin has become, in their eyes, nothing more than a rich adult, worthy perhaps of befriending solely for his money, or perhaps attempting to scam in some way. Nothing Macaulay Culkin did as a child has left a mark on these people. Now, that is sad. Macaulay Culkin, former child star, is now nothing but a great, big wallet, to all the searchers who have arrived on my site, in search of him, these past couple of years.

In many ways, I think Macaulay Culkin's fate is rather worse than being forgotten. He is now remembered as someone who should be rich - and nothing more: what a fate.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, 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, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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IMDB is the Internet Movie Database for film and tv professionals. If you would like to look at my IMDb listing for which another fifteen credits are to be uploaded, please go to: As I write, the listing is new and brief - however, by the time you read this it might have a dozen or a score of please do take a look. My son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, also has an IMDb listing. His is found at: My wife, Syahidah Osman Cawley, has a listing as well. Hers is found at:

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:35 AM 


Blogger Christine said...

The tragedy of former child stas like Culkin is that they never fit in anywhere as adults. If they were still into acting they could be part of the acting crowd. If they don't have a career anymore, they are sort of lost as they won't be part of the regular crowd.
I agree that it's sad that people think of him in terms of money.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I wonder if it is that the film fraternity doesn't want to work with him as an adult (is he no good, for instance) or is it that he is too rich and too lazy?

I wonder if he knows that people just think of him, now, in terms of how wealthy he is?

Thanks for your comment.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or, perhaps Culkin is a hopeful example. Maybe precocious kids exploited by fame seeking parents can go on to a life that isn't measured in People Magazine covers or blog entries. It seems silly to conclude he's a tragic figure without more actual information about his life.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Dear Anonymous,

On the contrary, it seems silly for you to include that I have too little information on the absence of information that you have about my information.

You see, I know more than you think. I have read interviews with Macaulay Culkin and articles about him that suggest that he did, indeed, seek an adult career but failed to secure one. He worked on two independent films (because none of the big boys wanted to hire him), in an attempt to relaunch his acting career. No-one noticed the films and they went nowhere. He also had ghost written (he can't write) an "autobiography" in an attempt to drum up interest in his life story and relaunch himself into public consciousness. It didn't seem to make much impact.

Given that these are clearly attempts to succeed as an adult public figure/performer, it would seem inevitable to conclude that he IS in fact the tragic figure I have depicted him as.

Thanks for your comment.

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is not as sad as thought:

Maybe he simply does not want any attention. I don't want any attention. I have plenty of contributions to make, but the last thing I want is to be bothered all the time about them.

Maybe he was like Sidis and was hounded by the media, which he hated. Maybe he IS doing interesting things but WANTS them to be hidden.

That would be sad, in a way. But now that he is older and can choose to fade away into obscurity, it may be that he is getting more or less the silence he has desired.

Another thing I'd like to mention is that anyone searching for Macawley Culkin is unfamiliar with how to spell his name. His fans are more likely to know how to spell his name, so it may be that when fans of his search for him they do search for other things - but that you don't see these searches because they are not misspelled.

- Kathy

5:18 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Kathy,

Actually, Macaulay is spelt MACAULAY, not I am right in observing that the kind of searches he receives are all about his money.

I have noted that he has made attempts to restart his adult career...but failed. This indicates that his obscurity is most probably not desired by him. That is the pity of it.

Thanks for your comment.

8:30 AM  
Anonymous Uncle Buck -4- Life~ said...

i actually came a cross this blog whilst literally searching "how much is macaulay culkin worth" to a 'T' and i was, though only momentarily shocked at those statistics because i did not consider myself one of those people... but nevertheless, pop culture got the best of me, and i searched his "worth" on google; but my reasons are a little different... i simply came across a photo of him and mila kunis, and simply wondered to myself what has he been up to, and found that a VERY short list (of notable things) and wondered just how much he did make in his youth, and just how much he is still living off of... i truely believe in you cast macaulay culkin as a lead in a hollywood blockbuster, even a very tounge in cheek role, he would be INSANELY successful, i would guarentee it. sincerely,

3:18 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

You may be right about Culkin succeeding in a major role, if he ever gets given one. However, the problem is that film execs seem to see the adult version of a child actor as a different person and rarely seem to allow that transition to occur. Very few successful child actors are as successful as adults, it seems.

As for money, though, I don't think he needs to worry too much, unless he is very foolish or unlucky with his investments.

Thanks for your comment.

9:01 AM  
Blogger Patrice said...

I have to say that although I think you are entitled to your opinion about anyone, your opinion only means something to you. My idea of success is being content with life and embarcing each moment. Being a movie actor doesn't define success. It could be that Macaulay having made his fortune is now enjoying the greatest success of his life, that is a peaceful existance out of the lime light.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Patrice,

Of course, it could be so, that he seeks nothing more than peaceful retirement, as you say...however, there are indications that this is not so. He launched an "autobiography" a few years back, which I understand was an attempt to propel him into the limelight again. It didn't. He is also doing a small amount of acting, in obscure tv productions and independent films. Someone avoiding the limelight wouldn't do that. This does indicate that he is seeking to revive his acting career...but not succeeding in doing so.

Perhaps he is happy, perhaps not. However, most people would find it a little tragic to have succeeded so greatly as a child, but not at all as an adult. Maybe he doesn't feel that tragedy, however many in his position would probably do so.

Yet, he does have the consolation of being rich so I have no doubt that he is living a good life.

Thanks for your comment Patrice.

9:04 AM  
Blogger terry livsey said...

he has mad it and thats all that matters. Man live your life and enjoy it. the people with the bad comments never have and will never be where you are. all I care about is that your well. you have gave me joy with art that has been

1:52 AM  
Blogger Abigail e said...

. The substance of someone's life cannot be measured in fame or whatever else Hollywood has to offer. And for those who choose to judge him on that basis have to understand, that he has had an amazing career that some could only dream of, past/present not so relevant. Plus he will always have financial security. Doesn't sound so tragic to me-

8:23 PM  

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