Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Solitary Boy

What would childhood be like if there were many playthings but no friends, not because there weren’t other kids around, but because this one didn’t want to fit in? He was stubborn from the get go and preferred to pursue his own inclinations, regardless of the consequences, with other kids his own age and with his parents too. Would he need an imagined companion for comfort and to play out dialogs with himself? Would he feel bored much of the time? Or would he discover ways to amuse himself and focus his attention?

Might it ultimately prove an advantage for deep learning, not having to accommodate the wishes of others and thereby not needing to remain sensitive to the expression of those wishes, which are often demonstrated in a non-verbal way? Monitoring those wishes would have required him to devote precious intellectual energy on his immediate surroundings. In addition to the stubbornness, our boy had a very keen mind. He learned with that to concentrate, to become absorbed with the current object whether adventure story, magic trick, or intricate puzzle, and to block out everything else. The ability to block out worldly things kept him pure and true to himself. Other children have this purity as infants but eventually lose it through socialization, particularly when at school. Somebody who maintains such purity looks increasingly odd to others as he gets older. He lives in his own universe, without himself being aware that he emanates eccentricity.

Now imagine that you have become Tinker Bell, able to watch the goings on in any setting without giving any notice to yourself.  And imagine that you find yourself in the house with the boy, when he was a young child.  The house is cavernous and the goings on complex.  You can't make heads or tails of it and because it is a blur you don't pay much attention.  But you persist in the spot and keep watching.  Eventually the boy comes into sharper view and you begin to understand his manner and his disposition.  And it fascinates you, because your own experience was different.  You weren't always a Tinker Bell.  You were once an ordinary boy, one with friends, one who was readily socialized.  This boy is so different from what you knew.  And then you begin to get jealous.  Maybe you could have been special too, if only you had borne some hardship as a child and learned what it felt like to be lonely when very young, which then propelled you to explore your own imagined world. 

The Luzhin Defense - Initial impressions after reading the first few chapters. 

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