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, May 20, 2010

The meaning of immortality.

About ten years ago, I had a conversation with an American academic. The conversation, itself, was much longer than this snippet, but it is this exchange that has stuck with me.

"Shakespeare is immortal.", she stated, firmly, as if it were an irrefutable truth.

"So, what good does that do him?", I asked, utterly unconvinced, "He's dead."

She seemed taken aback by that. It was if she had never considered the fact that he was dead, simply because he was still known. She fell into a long silence. Clearly, she had no counter to that.

I have always thought that "immortal" was a strange term to apply to famous dead people. They are not "immortal". They are dead. They are just as mortal as anyone else. Being dead, they gain no direct personal benefit from their posthumous fame, at all. Indeed, fame is little compensation for death. I think they would all rather be alive, and unknown, than dead and famous.

Unfortunately, at this time, death is not optional - and so most people would settle for at least being remembered after they are gone. However, until the day when people are truly immortal, I object, in principle, to calling dead people, "immortal" about just calling them, "unforgotten", or "still remembered" - for that is what they truly are.

(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 @ 10:34 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha. I like your statement! Nice reply to her!

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the American.

12:50 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you, Anon of 11.27. It certainly put an end to her line of argument.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

re. 12.50 am.

You are free to agree...but that doesn't make Shakespeare any less dead.

Thanks for your view.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shakespeare is dead because he cannot make his presence known to the world other than through the works he created during his lifetime.

Eventually, he will be forgotten.

2:52 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Sadly, I have to agree. Over a great enough time scale everything will be forgotten...even whole civilizations, like "USA", or "The British Empire".

10:13 AM  

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