Natural Geniuses

This morning I watched Beethoven Virus eps 6 to 8 until 5.30. Yeah..I started at 2 AM after I finished washing my undies and changing my sheet (speaking of midnite chores 😛 ).  For those of you who never heard of this series, Beethoven Virus is a Korean drama with classical music as its muse. Some say it is the K-drama answer to J-dorama’s Nodame Cantabile which is also a classical music drama. After I watched the two, I would say they are both good but Nodame is definetely more comical with Japanese extreme sense of humor 😉 Beethoven Virus is quite intense with emotions all over in each character. So if you like classical music and are prepared for some emotional roller coaster ride, don’t miss this series!

Anyway in it, there’s a character Kang Gun Woo, a trumpet player who never received formal music education. He always played by ear and never read music scores. He is a natural genius to a level that his teacher compared him to Mozart. He, just like Mozart, is able to write Allegri’s Miserere out in its entirety from memory after listening to it just once. In short, this guy is a prodigy. While this character is fictional, Mozart himself is not. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart showed indications of prodigious abilities at a very young age. When he was five years old, he could both read and write music and had precocious skills as a keyboard and violin player. In the fourth year of his age his father, for a game as it were, began to teach him a few minuets and pieces at the clavier. He could play it faultlessly and with the greatest delicacy, and keeping exactly in time.  At the age of five he was already composing little pieces, which he played to his father who wrote them down. Among them were the Andante (K. 1a) and Allegro in C (K. 1b). Now how can you explain that? A five-year-old toddler composing music? There is no other explanation. He was a natural genius.

The world has witnessed a lot of natural geniuses, without whom it would not be the same world we live in now. Some of them, aside from Mozart, are Plato, Confucius, Da Vinci, Avicenna, Galileo Galilei, Maria Gaetana Agnesi, John Stuart Mill, Einstein, Stephen Hawking. Genius has traditionally been understood to denote an exceptional natural capacity of intellect and creative originality in areas of art, literature, philosophy, music, language, science and mathematics. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of natural genius, most probably because I, along with majority of the world population, do not possess such qualities to qualify as one 😛 That’s why many people fall in love with Lintang’s character in Laskar Pelangi tetralogy. Because we are amazed with his intelligence and abilities to think or do things beyond his age, without money to hire a Kumon tutor 😀

Speaking of a child prodigy, I am quite lucky to know one. She is my childhood friend, moved to our school in our 3rd year. She is my headmaster’s niece from Bandung, spent a school holiday in Purwokerto and decided to stay. Can you believe it? An eight-year-old who already made a decision for herself. She instantly grew her popularity among teachers, students, and parents. She mastered all the subjects easily and effortlessly. She just needed 10 minutes to study before exam and got a perfect 10. She had a lot of potential in many areas, from math to history. From art (singing with her angelic soprano voice, playing flute, organ, and violin) to sport (she was always physically active, she mastered Wushu as well). She even nailed Javanese language with her perfect mastery of ‘ha-na-ca-ra-ka’ alphabets. She made a diligent student like me look stupid. It’s true. Before she came I was the best student in class. I learnt about the harsh world and its expectations from her coming into my life. My parents just couldn’t believe that their daughter is not smart enough to be the best. I had to endure for four years. When the graduation day came, I chose to continue to the second best junior high school in town. I did it because I could not stand the competition. Eventhough I finally worked my way to be the best student (in high school and university’s faculty), it just tasted sour. I already know that I am not smart. I am just another diligent student who studies hard. My intelligence is pale in comparison with geniuses’.

Nevertheless I know I have to count my blessings 🙂 I grew up normally just like a regular kid without others’ curiosity and unnecessary attention. Didn’t I mention that my genius friend is very beautiful? She’s all that! How can you retain normalcy when others keep looking at you with awe and disbelief, sometimes envy? Started in 5th year, she got rebellious and caused a lot of troubles. That went on until she was in junior high. She would gamble in class, brought balloons to the class, talked during class (she got expelled often) but still managed to be the best student  in her school. Upon her graduation, she got scholarship in Pelita Harapan high school. She was still the best among her friends. She won scholarship to study in NUS, Singapore. She rejected that offer because of her mother’s resistance. She had already spent 10 years away from her parents and they could not bear another separation. Then she studied Med in Maranatha University and graduated with Summa cum laude (only one B, the rest are A’s). Now as a doctor she serves the needy in Papua. What a life!

The other side of the story is I do know how hard it is for her to be accepted. She constantly feels lonely and misunderstood. She’s always had her own world that others find it inaccessible. Although she appeared bubbly on the outside, she often cried in silence. She’s always had bottomless energy that she joined EVERY SINGLE extracurricular activity in her university. She’s got a lot of friends but very few best friends. She wrote once in her blog that she felt really really lonely and had no one to turn to.

An explanation in Wikipedia confirms my suspicion. Geniuses are often accused of lacking common sense, or emotional sensitivity.[citation needed] Stories of a genius in a given field being unable to grasp “everyday” concepts are abundant. Some individuals in this arena of “absent-minded professors” and persons lacking normal social skills fall in the autism spectrum (such as Asperger syndrome).[citation needed] A genius’s intense focus on a given subject might appear obsessive-compulsive in nature (e.g., Howard Hughes and aviation),[citation needed] but it might also simply be a choice made by the individual. If one is performing groundbreaking work in one’s field, maintaining other elements of life might logically be relegated to insignificance.

While the absent-minded professor notion is not without merit, a genius is just as likely to encounter emotional problems as anyone else. Note the peculiarities of figures like Glenn Gould. Eccentricities such as the ones conveyed by Gould are most likely because of the vast brainpower which normally comes with genius.[citation needed] Einstein was also known for his quirky behavior. Some geniuses’ works are also unappreciated during their lifetimes due to their tendency to be ahead of their time.

Socio-emotional problems are more prevalent in geniuses with an IQ above 145 (on the Wechsler Scale).[citation needed] Asynchronous development is the primary cause of this.[citation needed] As most children do not share gifted children’s interests, vocabulary, or desire to organize activities, the genius child may withdraw from society.

Some research shows that reasons other than maladjustment make companionship difficult to find for geniuses.[citation needed] As intelligence of a person increases, the number of those whom he or she considers peers tends to decrease. For example, at an IQ of 135 (on the Wechsler Scale) only every hundredth person would be of equal or greater IQ.[citation needed] This number shrinks exponentially as IQ goes up.

So, do you still want your son/daughter to be a natural genius? 😉

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