What’s it like being naive and simple-minded?

If you had a kid, would you rather he or she be simple-minded or complex-minded (jaded, thoughtful, etc.)?

One might think there is some comfort in it, but the truth appears to be that it simply isn’t pleasant.

I’d far rather wish that my kids be smart as little whips than be plain and plodding and slow in school.

Being smart seems to be associated with certain other social and personal costs. It may be controversial, but I do believe that smart people have a greater susceptibility to mental illness than other people.

I once heard a teacher explain it as like the difference between owning a race-horse and owning a plough-horse. High performance comes with the cost of skittishness, instability, and a higher chance of running away with you; low performance is a little less likely to be unstable.

But I think that “slow children” – and adults – know damn well that they’re missing something, and that it hurts when they see this.

Do the simple-minded really know they’re missing something? This is something I’ve been pondering. Is it better to be simple-minded, and only have a few, easy to achieve goals, rather than jaded, intelligent, and complex, with numerous, and harder-to-achieve, ambitions?

I know someone who’s simple-minded, and the thing about him is that he fails to connect a stigma with a behavior.

“Why are people staring at me?”

*Well - maybe because you’re fucking talking at 160 decibels in broken and accented English in the middle of the fucking cafe.

For most people, it’s intuitive. Talking loudly, especially in a stereotypical accent, will draw attention.

But he appears happy - satisfied - with where he is. Sure, he’s no Bill Gates, but he doesn’t really seem to want anything even close to that level of success. He doesn’t really seem to have goals, other than ending the day well-fed and waking up well-rested. I look at his hands, and they are baby soft. Can’t even see the knuckles. He says he “works out,” but I don’t know what dictionary he’s using, especially given his pot belly.

In this world, there are two types of jobs - manual labor and non-manual labor. One generally goes to the less than intelligent people; the other goes to the more intelligent people.

I can’t see him as successful with either type of job - he seriously needs to toughen up if he is to pursue manual labor. Or smarten up, if he is to pursue non-manual labor. His basic communication skills are lacking. It isn’t that he doesn’t know English - it’s that he CAN’T know English.

But given all this, he’s happy. He’s happy-go-lucky. He is never moody, as I am sometimes.

I think…yes.

Obviously, mental self-preservation leads to various forms of minimizing this sense: compensation, rationalization, suppression, etc.

I think of myself as pretty bright…but I sometimes hang around a handful of absolute effing geniuses – peoples with doctorates in various arts and sciences, people who can see solutions to problems while I’m still struggling to understand the problem itself – and I feel a sense of missing something, a sense of inadequacy.

In the same way, the circles I hang out in have a handful of people who – well, aren’t stupid, but just aren’t super-sharp. And they see it when those around them ease up on the vocabulary to accommodate them.

This may be condescending or patronizing, but is meant to help bring them into the conversation. And, again, when my super-smart friends simplify the elements of a discussion so that I can participate, it hurts, a little, but I take it as a kindness, because otherwise I’d have to go sit in a corner and read comic books!

(And, yes, clearly, I’m mixing “education” with “intelligence” here, but, for the moment, I’ll defend this on the grounds that the two are at least loosely correlated.)

*Continued from my last post: *And sometimes, I wonder, if his life is subjectively better than mine.

Anyway, Trinopus, you raise salient points, but I’ll have to lucubrate over them in the shower (a man’s gotta sleep). You’re horse analogy is genius.