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, August 11, 2011

Lack of creativity in adults.

Yesterday, Fintan, eight, was listening to the radio. There was a song playing which caught his attention.

“Mummy, was that song made by a kid, or an adult?”. Genuine puzzlement had settled in his eyes and inflected his tongue.

His mother, Syahidah gazed down upon him, knowing the answer, but wondering how there could be any doubt.

Fintan explained. “They keep repeating the words.” It was clear he thought this both silly and evidence of an undeveloped mind.

“It is by an adult.”, she assured him, a little unimpressed herself that it should be so.

Fintan didn’t know what to make of that. It seemed that he didn’t believe it worthy of a child, never mind an adult.

She didn’t explain to him further about the parlous state of modern culture – about how many “artists” produce trite and empty work. Perhaps she should have done.

It is interesting, however, that a young child of only eight was able to identify the essential emptiness of a song that had too much repetition in it. He already expected more from a song – more complexity, more variety, more of a story than this particular “artiste” was able to give. This, of course, prompts the question: if a young boy can see modern music as lacking, how can the adult audience not do so as well? Why is there even a market for such trivial “music”?

In moments like this, it is becoming apparent that Fintan is growing in awareness of the mental and cultural limitations of the modern adult world. He is beginning to see a mismatch between his expectations of that world and what it actually is and delivers. It is both telling and somewhat sad, that even an eight year old boy can expect greater quality and complexity from the adult world than it is able, in this instance, at least, to offer. In his innocent question, there lies a potent criticism of the state of modern music , in particular, and modern culture in general. It has degenerated to the point that even a young boy sees that something is missing. That something, of course, is intelligence and creativity. Once, one might have expected it in the typical cultural product, now, however, it has become a rarity. In its stead, we have derivativeness, “sampling”/plagiarism, simplicity to the point of banality, and a general sense of stupidity, in the “creator”. Even a child can sense it and wonder why it is so.

I hope that the future is better than the present, culturally, because much that is modern seems to have declined from the past. I hope that this decline does not continue and that the future holds music and other culture that children won’t puzzle at, that an adult could possibly have produced it. However, looking around, there is not much hope for the near future. It may be a distant future, before human culture recovers the complexity, depth and originality it once had – at least, in terms of popular expressions in any media. Right now, much of the work can be described by one word: mindless. Even a child can see that - or hear it, anyway.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 3:19 PM 


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