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 +

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A love of Art.

Popular Bookstore is a chain present in both Singapore and Malaysia. It tends to stock academic books for schoolchildren and a reasonable - though restricted - range of general reading material. Today, in a Popular Bookstore, in KL, I noted something most telling. I saw a book section I have never seen in the corresponding stores in Singapore. Now can you guess what it was? What kind of section could a Malaysian bookstore have, that its Singaporean counterparts don't have?

Have you had a good think? Well, to my astonishment, today, I saw a "Drawing" section, in the Malaysian Popular Bookstore. That gave me pause, for it was not a small section: it consisted of two whole bookshelves, perhaps three to four metres wide and one and a half metres high, in total, carrying nothing but books on the art of drawing: how to do it, what it is, and how you can learn. There were books on particular types of drawing: portraits, fantasy figures and so on. I was, in an instant, most impressed by what it said of the country I am now living in. It says, quite clearly, that there are enough people in KL interested in learning how to draw, for it to be profitable for a general bookstore like Popular, to carry such specialized titles.

Yet, and this was the most telling part of all, I had never seen a similar section in Singapore's Popular bookstores - though I have been in many of them, many times.

One can conclude from this that Malaysians are rather more artistically inclined, than their Singaporean counterparts, for no bookstore is going to waste shelf space on things which don't sell enough to justify it.

Perhaps, pragmatic Singaporeans don't see the value in art, so much, because they cannot see how it connects to their life value of accumulating money as rapidly as possible. Since art seems distant from this, they are less drawn to it...excuse the pun.

As for me: I like art and artists and think that it is an eminently worthy pursuit, even if it never results in great personal wealth, or even a decent living: it is the art itself that counts.

I find it refreshing that an ordinary bookstore would actually pay such heed to drawing. There is, I think, more depth to this nation, than one might first grasp. No doubt there are more clues out there, waiting to be seen.

I will let you know when I spot one.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 6 and Tiarnan, 4, this month, please go to:

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:57 AM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The kind of ART book that prominently found and promoted in Singapore bookstore are those talking about the ART of making money (for example, business book, investor book)

8:40 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. You are right. I had noticed the preponderance of "Become a millionaire, just do this..." type books. They are usually prominently displayed among the bestsellers...

Perhaps Singaporeans would be happier if they valued more things beside just money.

Best wishes to you.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

I am glad Malaysia likes art so much. I wish I could draw better. I can only draw stick people. My sister is into that stuff, she has taken art classes at the graduate level.
I am pleased that the Koreans like art of all kinds. Traditional Korean art is very uniform. They have embraced western artists. I went to an Andy Warhol exhibit a few weeks ago at the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA). There was quite a crowd there. Last year's Renoir exhibit was great, there were paintings shipped in from all over the world. I saw it once and thought of seeing it again, but didn't get around to it.
I found that many Korean artists have gone to the West to study art. Maybe it's because they want the variety that is offered there.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

It is good to hear that are is popular in Korea - and that they are breaking away from the uniformity of their traditions. Art should be varied, because it should be unique to the artist - at least, in my view. Thus, there should be a great range of art, if it is in a healthy state in a nation.

It is always interesting to hear how things are in keep commenting!

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow.. it seem common things here.. unless u think malaysia is third world country, then u'll be suprise by what u'll see here.

7:00 PM  
Blogger The Chengs said...

In Bras Basah Complex Popular.

10:30 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. Bras brasah.

Two points: firstly, how big is the display?

Secondly, there would be an obvious reason for that, at Bras Brasah: Art Friend's main shop is just next door to the Popular bookstore, so it would be a reaction to an unusual concentration of art interested people passing that way.

Normally situated bookshops in Singapore do not have drawing sections. The shop in KL was not near an art was just in an ordinary shopping mall.

Thanks for the observation, though.

12:44 PM  

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