Saturday, March 20, 2010
In reviewing The Genius in All of Us, the new David Shenk book subtitled Why Everything You've Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ is Wrong, Annie Murphy Paul gives us some tantalizing insights into a world of personal possibility. "That means there can be no guaranteed genetic windfalls, or fixed genetic limits, bestowed at the moment of conception," she writes in the New York Times Book Review. "Instead there is a continually unfolding interaction between our heredity and our world, a process that may be in some measure under our control."
There could be no one happier than yours truly to read this. My life brings me into constant contact with people of far greater intellect than I believe I'll ever possess,and I was never the smart one in my family. I am only and ever the one who keeps on working hard, who keeps trying, even as failures mount, to get somewhat ahead of myself.
This, apparently, is what Shenk is calling for, to "think of talent not as a thing, but as a process; not as something we have, but as something we do," in the words of the reviewer.
Shenk's own words are quoted here, toward the end of the review. They, too, touch me deeply. I recognize in him the striving that I yesterday described about myself. I am given cause to perhaps stop berating myself when I cannot at first get the sentence right:
“My attitude toward my own writing is simple: I assume that everything I write is rubbish until I have demonstrated otherwise. I will routinely write and rewrite a sentence, paragraph and/or chapter 20, 30, 40 times — as many times as it takes to feel satisfied.”