I'm not close to him." He looked at me defiantly. "But he's put his whole life into this. He's no Freud or Jung or Pavlov or Watson, but he's doing something important and I respect his dedication - maybe even more because he's just an ordinary man trying to do a great man's work, while the great men are all busy making bombs.
But I've learned that intelligence alone doesn't mean a damned thing. Here in your university, intelligence, education, knowledge, have all become great idols. But I know now there's one thing you've all overlooked: intelligence and education that hasn't been tempered by human affection isn't worth a damn.
Intelligence is one of the greatest human gifts. But all too often a search for knowledge drives out the search for love. This is something else I've discovered for myself very recently. I present it to you as a hypothesis: Intelligence without the ability to give and receive affection leads to mental and moral breakdown, to neurosis, and possibly even psychosis. And I say that the mind absorbed in and involved in itself as a self-centered end, to the exclusion of human relationships, can only lead to violence and pain.
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I don't know why I resented it so intensely to have them think of me as something newly minted in their private treasury, but it was-I am certain-echoes of that idea that had been sounding in the chambers of my mind from the time we had arrived in Chicago. I wanted to get up and show everyone what a fool he was, to shout at him: I'm a human being, a person - with parents and memories and a history - and I was before you ever wheeled me into that operating room!
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I'm living at a peak of clarity and beauty I never knew existed. Every part of me is attuned to the work. I soak it up into my pores during the day, and at night-in the moments before I pass off into sleep-ideas explode into my head like fireworks. There is no greater joy than the burst of solution to a problem. Incredible that anything could happen to take away this bubbling energy, the zest that fills everything I do. It's as if all the knowledge I've soaked in during the past months has coalesced and lifted me to a peak of light and understanding. This is beauty, love, and truth all rolled into one. This is joy.
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I'm 'exceptional'- a democratic term used to avoid the damning labels of 'gifted' and 'deprived' (which used to mean 'bright' and 'retarded') and as soon as 'exceptional' begins to mean anything to anyone they'll change it. The idea seems to be: use an expression as long as it doesn't mean anything to anybody. 'Exceptional' refers to both ends of the spectrum, so all my life I've been exceptional.
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I can't help but admire the structural linguists who have carved out forthemselves a linguistic discipline based on the deterioration of writtencommunication. Another case of men devoting their lives to studying more and more about less and less-filling volumes and libraries with the subtle linguistic analysis of the grunt.
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Remembering how my mother looked before she gave birth to my sister is frightening. But even more frightening is the feeling that I wanted them to catch me and beat me. Why did I want to be punished? Shadows out of the past clutch at my legs and drag me down. I open my mouth to scream, but I am voiceless. My hands are trembling, I feel cold, and there is a distant humming in my ears.
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Here look at me. I'm Charlie, the son you wrote off the books? Not that I blame you for it, but here I am, all fixed up better than ever. Test me. Ask me questions. I speak twenty languages, living and dead; I'm a mathematical whiz, and I'm writing a piano concerto that will make them remember me long after I'm gone.