Wednesday, June 14, 2006

For Whom The Bell Curve Tolls

Intelligence, and that which puts it to the test, is relative to one's challenges. Contextual intelligence, which does not register well in standardized intelligence testing, is perhaps the most relevant to survival, and it is in the worst times of economic and environmental stress and upheaval that we see who has game. And, given current conditions, those times are not far in front of us. Towering debt, a failing dollar, massive job out-sourcing, and a general Wal Mart-ization of the economy all signal a rough road ahead. Those whose talents are of a corporate nature will not fare as well under such conditions as those who have lived at or below the poverty level, or even on the street, and have managed admirably through difficult circumstances, and even raised families to do likewise.

In the midst of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, a re-ordering took place among those who were in harm's way. Suddenly, one's property holdings or expertise in the stock market were of no use in finding the resources for survival. Those who were more familiar with crisis and a low level of comfort were the most able to deal with the shock and difficulty of the situation. The sense of looking into the abyss was not unfamiliar to them.

It was reported in the news recently that a pair of prison inmates braved a steep cliff and adroitly saved a man from a burning truck. Would soon-to-be inmate Kenneth Lay be so resourceful in such a situation? It's not too likely. Class privilege does not confer intelligence, and hardly even gives the appearance of it, and one need look no further than our own president to see the truth in that. There is no real pressure in a situation where the deck is stacked in your favor, and there is nothing to be learned, except that it sure is easy when you're sitting in the catbird seat.

The heart of the matter, which Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance author Robert Persig sought in such convoluted fashion, is quality, and the lack of it. It was Persig's cleaning lady who clued him in on that pearl of wisdom, giving him the epiphany he sought. One need not hold the philosophy chair at a prestigious university to arrive at such a clear conclusion, but, in this society, the pedigree weighs more than the truth. Once tenured, smugness tends to replace any sense of discovery. Imagine discovering that your assets are a fraud, and the bank is taking your house. Nouveau riche, it tolls for thee.

"It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows."


Post a Comment

<< Home