Thursday, August 12, 2010

I have a defective brain. However....

I have a defective brain.

I've nearly always known about it. Growing up, I never matched up to the other kids. I couldn't fathom math; oh sure, addition, subtraction, multiplication, but division started confusing me early. But when we hit fractions, fractional division, I lost it.

It was about 5th grade I started to realize, I really don't think like other kids. My grades showed it too. But it also showed what I was good at: reading, comprehension, writing. Comprehension, took a while. Once I got into college, I started being told by many people, that I had a talent for writing; that my writings were well drawn, or entertaining. I didn't believe them at first. But when I started hearing it from my Instructors and Professors, I started to believe.

All thought K-12, especially High School, I thought about being a writer. But I couldn't, there were too many mechanics to it, too many rules and I was never very good at rules, or boundaries. I was always over-reaching, over extending, trying to see what was over the next hill. So I knew I could never be a writer. I knew I could probably not be a lot of things, like a brain surgeon, or a physicist. But writer, was going to be out of the question, too.

When got to a university, something I never thought would happen. If I compared my brain to that of my old main Professor at Western Washington University's Psychology Department, Dr. Rod Rees, I saw similarities. But, when I think of him, or my old instructor in the Theater department, Perry Mills, it humbles me.

Dr. Rees I believe, had brain functions and mental processes more like mine, but way down the road from me. He was a great guiding light to me; and my girlfriend at the time, as we were a special couple in the Psychology Department from what I heard (I'd love to know how Dr. Rees' caring nurturing of us, has directed her life since those days). Dr. Rees was part of a "think tank" at Brown University in the '60s. When the student body representatives were looking to affect change, they went to Dr. Rees' team and said, "Here's the situation, what do we do?" Rees and his team analyzed the data, and came back with, "Take over the University, shut it down, take over the administration building." And the rest is history.

Perry Mills, was my guide through the Theatrical realm after I decided to also acquire a minor in Creative Writing, in screenwriting as it turned out, along with fiction and play writing.

Perry has a command of language and historical information unsurpassed in anyone I have ever met; he could see how things tie together and deliver it in an entertaining or at times, in an overwhelming way. Presented in his grand booming voice with his gregarious, animated and overplayed mannerisms, he could whittle you to the quick, or humble you with a word; but he was always a joy to be around. Women loved him, even though sometimes women wanted to hate him. But they simply couldn't, even through his slightly (strike that, somewhat) chauvinist tendencies.

I asked a secretary at the PAC at WWU after he walked away having cheerily ranted about some male / female dichotomy, "How does he get away with that? I could never get away with saying some of the things he says." She was laughing, as was another woman behind the counter that she worked with. She thought about it and said: "How can you not let him get away with it? He's Perry. You want to hate him sometimes, but you just can't."

Nice. I wish I could have gleamed that technique off of him, but he is unique. Part of the issue was, he was usually right and he had a brain the size of a small planet.

The only man I've seen who comes close to him in a long time, is Christopher Hitchens. I hadn't realized it but I think that is wherein lay my fascination with him; in that, to me, he feels quite familiar. I feel that in some way, I understand him.

Now, I had realized as a child that I couldn't think as others do. But, I learned to hide it, to work around it. Since I knew I couldn't conjure up facts like others could; that I could not draw down from the air, esoteric permutations in algebraic notation, or dated facts from history, I wanted to give up. See, I have trouble with recall, but not, with recognition. I cannot call at will previously learned, studied, information. Not immediately, not in the time it takes for test taking in a classroom. Sometimes I can, but I do better on other kinds of testing. I can however, build massive concepts from scratch, at a whim, build something impressive from nothing.

I was horrible at math. It was a strange relationship, I love geometry, but I was really bad at it. On the other hand, I could spin words and concepts, at will; I could build constructs of metaphor and logic with a fair amount of ease. I began to notice that I could do things most others in my classes couldn't do; though I couldn't do most of what was required of us.

And I realized, I had something few had. I knew I could make that work, but how?

And so, in the end, I have always tried to do what I can in life, to work with how my brain works. I realized I'm not great at recalling things quickly, but I'm very good at recognizing them and creating something from nothing. It has always been easy for me to turn a phrase, or conjure a joke; especially when my life depended on it. One has to find what one can do well in life, and profit from it. And not simply bow to the will of the masses, authority, the majority, or the populace.

Remember the maxim: "As the size of a mob increases proportionally, the intellect of it decreases exponentially." Or something like that. You see, I'm not that great at recalling things like that. But I love the internet. Its my extra brain. Use it well, Grasshopper.

So, if you're creative, create. Don't be forced into what "they" want, what "they" expect, or want to expect of you. Schools are mostly designed to kick out a cookie cutter version of people, rather than take the time, or have the time, or the money, to develop people that are good for the world.

Be yourself. Its good to learn to work with the system, but you have to be true to yourself, too. Otherwise, you are fated to always be in the shadow of the current Zeitgeist of your community, your nation, or the world; something that is not good for you, or the rest.

But remember too, that society by its nature, is designed to crave, to build, raise, push to the front or the top, leaders, people to follow, to worship. And then, once they have what the so much desire, the tear them down, destroy them, kill them.

Its just what we do.

I do have a defective brain. However....

...we actually all have defective brains.

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