Friday, February 08, 2019


Intelligence Quotient or IQ has become something it is not: a measure of "pure" intelligence.  Such a thing would have to be organically based: how many neurons are present, how they interact, which loops have developed in the connectome, the volume of blood oxygen supply in the head, and so on.  An IQ test, as developed and used, is a convenient paper-and-pencil test to see whether a person knows what the authorities think you should know, much of it cultural -- learned rather than "figured out."  It was especially helpful in the days when soldiers were drawn from ag backgrounds where they mostly learned to be obedient.  A few read books.

When Sam Vaknin was born and grew up in Israel, he was quick to learn and esp. good at seeing the architecture of subjects, the structures that made them effective.  His IQ was remarkably high.  The culture praised and rewarded this, pushing him through school ever more quickly until he was totally out of step.  That was damaging enough.  The even more dark side of this was that his family resented his gifts and punished him violently.  He split.  Not ran away -- split in half inside.

Famously he studied narcissism because everyone said that's what he was: concerned only for himself in a repulsive way, diagnosed with punishing finality.  He accepted this.  He analyzed it.  He concludes recently that narcissisism is not at all the result of being indulged and spoiled, but rather feeling it is an identity preserving defensive tactic.  It is the result of trauma.  I agree with him.  It both triggers and defends a person.

I've been fascinated by Sam since I was reading him while struggling to understand Bob Scriver so I could write his biography.  Now his ability and reputation have expanded, partly into the Russian world, but he's the same cranky, opinionated guy in his severe, accented way.  He still takes pride in being cold and brainy and some still feel that this is due to a high IQ.

Now take a look at Richard Grannon who doesn't even claim the "high" prestige title of psychiatrist and says he's a "life coach."  He also says he is "spartan," but he's clearly a big, cheerful, empathetic and irreverent guy.   This piece is called, "The Tao of Unsuck"  2015  I expect his clients fall in love with him.

Someone brilliant (however you want you want to define that ) set these two men up wearing crisp white shirts in a solarium with a garden nodding in the breeze outside the window and let them talk.  They are not the two sides of the brain.  Vaknin is a whole brain.  Grannon is a whole body, Brit and a little bit zany.  They make each other laugh.  It becomes a series.  I love it.  This clip might be a good place to start.  Vaknin is mostly wrong about brains and computers being enough alike to merge, because he thinks a brain can function in a bucket -- without a body.  Embodied thought shows this is silly.  But his matter-of-fact bragging shows he's no dummy.

But Vaknin has been every place and Grannon's interest in all those adventures never fails.  Vaknin would agree that he's getting a narcissistic supply from Grannon's admiration and it makes him happy.

Here's another example:  It's interesting to speculate why Grannon is so interested in Sam.  Grannon is full of psych jargon, but some of the pop concepts are pretty useful.  A "reality tunnel" is something to think about that's pretty useful.   More organizing and rewarding than the IQ, a source of snobbism and oppression.

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