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A Review
Chapter XV
Boris Sidis'
Philistine and Genius
by Doug Renselle

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Chapter XV
Drive Out Academic Social-Barbarism's Fear of Thought!
©Quantonics' contrived chapter title.


(Most quotes verbatim Boris Sidis, some paraphrased.)

(Relevant to Pirsig, William James Sidis, and Quantonics Thinking Modes.)
84 "Being in a barbaric stage, we are afraid of thought. We are under the erroneous belief that thinking, study, causes nervousness and mental disorders. In my practice as physician in nervous and mental diseases, I can say without hesitation that I have not met a single case of nervous or mental trouble caused by too much thinking or overstudy. This is at present the opinion of the best psychopathologists. What produces nervousness is worry, emotional excitement and lack of interest in the work. But that is precisely what we do with our children. We do not take care to develop a love of knowledge in their early life for fear of brain injury, and then when it is late to" (Our bold emphasis.)

Boris hints that we are in an interim "stage."

A "one size fits all culture" prognoses illness. Why? One size does not fit all.

Knowledge helps us know what we want. Doing what we know we want, and what we know interests us, and what we know we love, and what we know changes whether we want change or not keeps us happy and healthy!

"acquire the interest, we force them to study, and we cram them and feed them and stuff them like geese. What you often get is fatty degeneration of the mental liver.

"If, however, you do not neglect the child between the second and third year, and see to it that the brain should not be starved, should have its proper function, like the rest of the bodily organs, by developing an interest in intellectual activity and love of knowledge, no forcing of the child to study is afterwards requisite. The child will go on by himself, — he will derive intense enjoyment from his intellectual activity, as he does from his games and physical exercise. The child will be stronger, healthier, sturdier than the present average child, with its purely animal activities and total neglect of brain function. His physical and mental development will go apace. He will not be"

(Our bold emphasis.)

We agree, but wonder if Boris bases this statement on his single experience with William.

"a barbarian with animal Proclivities and a strong distaste for knowledge and mental enjoyment, but he will be a strong, healthy, thinking man.

"Besides, many a mental trouble will be prevented in adult-life. The child will acquire knowledge with the same ease as he learns to ride the bicycle or play ball. By the tenth year, without almost any effort, the child will acquire the knowledge which at present the best college-graduate obtains with infinite labor and pain. That this can be accomplished I can say with authority; I know it as a fact from my own experience with child-life.

"From an economical standpoint alone, think of the saving it would ensure for society. Consider the fact that our children spend nearly eight years in the common school, studying spelling and arithmetic, and do not know them when they graduate! Think of the eight years of"

(Our bold, red and green emphasis.)

Boris' own child life, or William's child life, or others' child lives, or all above?

We see Earth's Internet as a partial cure for this. Virtual work, too, will eliminate much of this waste Boris identifies. Wonder what he would say about Internet?

"waste of school buildings and salaries for the teaching force. However, our real object is not economy, but the development of a strong, healthy, great race of genius.

"As fathers and mothers it may interest you to learn of one of those boys who were brought up in the love and enjoyment of knowledge for its own sake. At the age of twelve, when other children of his age are hardly able to read and spell, and drag a miserable mental existence at the apron strings of some antiquated school-dame, the boy is intensely enjoying courses in the highest branches of mathematics and astronomy at one of our foremost universities. The [Iliad] and the [Odyssey] are known to him by heart, and he is deeply interested in the advanced work of Classical Philology [love of learning, historical study of languages]. He is able to read Herodotus, Æschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Lucian and other Greek"

(Our bold emphasis. Our bracketed notes.)

We think much commercial and institutional real estate will become obsolete. Beware...

Boris commences his description of William.

We see where William absorbed his classical SOMitic underpinnings. Would he had read some Bergson, Renouvier, Bohr, Schrödinger, Heisenberg, et al.

"writers with the same zest and ease as our schoolboy reads his [Robinson Crusoe] or the productions of Cooper and Henty. The boy has a fair understanding of Comparative Philology and Mythology. He is well versed in Logic, Ancient History, American History and has a general insight into our politics and into the groundwork of our Constitution. At the same time he is of an extremely happy disposition, brimming over with humor and fun. His physical condition is splendid, his cheeks glow with health. Many a girl would envy his complexion. Being above five feet four he towers above the average boy of his age. His physical constitution, weight, form and hardihood of organs, far surpasses that of the ordinary schoolboy. He looks like a boy of sixteen. He is healthy, strong and sturdy.

"The philistine-pseudagogues [-pseudo-pedagogues], the self-contented school-autocrats are so imbued"

(Our bold emphasis.)

By today's standards, this is massive understatement!

William was between 12-13 years of age when this book was written and published.

In his end times, William became obese and suffered mightily from high blood pressure and its concomitant ills.

"with the fear of intellectual activity and with the superstitious dread of early mental education, they are so obsessed with the morbid phobia of human reflective powers, they are so deluded by the belief that study causes disease that they eagerly adhere to the delusion, to quote from a school-superintendent's letter, about the boy being "in a sanitarium, old and worn out." No doubt, the cramming, the routine, the rote, the mental and moral tyranny of the principal and school-superintendent do tend to nervous degeneracy and mental breakdown. Poor old college owls, academic barn-yard-fowls and worn-out sickly school-bats, you are panic stricken by the power of sunlight, you are in agonizing, in mortal terror of critical, reflective thought, you dread and suppress the genius of the young.

"We do not appreciate the genius harbored"

(Our bold emphasis.)

Harsh, but we have to agree. This is as real now as it was then and not much different from Boris' perceptions.

"in the average child, and we let it lie fallow. We are mentally poor, not because we lack riches, but because we do not know how to use the wealth of mines, the hidden treasures, the now inaccessible mental powers which we possess.

"In speaking of our mental capacities, Francis Galton [Founder of eugenics and its provocative admonishments.], I think, says that we are in relation to the ancient Greeks what the Bushmen and Hottentots [derogatory] are in relation to us. Galton and many other learned men regard the modern European races as inferior to the Hellenic race. They are wrong, and I know from experience that they are wrong. It rests in our hands either to remain inferior barbarians or to rival and even surpass in brilliancy the genius of the ancient Hellenes. We can develop into a great race by the proper education of man's genius."

(Our bold emphasis.)
We agree somewhat. Regardless what our founding fathers said, we are not all created equal. Indeed, we are all created quantumly unequal. Were we all equal, we would all be identical clones, marching to ESQ's single time, space, location, interest, language, culture, philosophy, science, etc., drummer. No two humans are identical. Yes, some have 'identical' DNA, but it is not the same DNA. It is different DNA made of different Phosphorous, Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen atoms in different molecular locations and different molecular contexts. It builds different proteins using different amino acids made of different Sulfur, Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen atoms in different molecular locations and different molecular contexts. No two humans are equal! No two macro-anystuffs are equal! To say humans are "equal" or believe that is just more SOM classical Boole!

Here, Boris offers us a distinctly eugenic tenor.
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Doug Renselle
Quantonics, Inc.
Suite 18 #368 1950 East Greyhound Pass
Carmel, INdiana 46033-7730

©Quantonics, Inc., 2000-2012 Rev. 26Aug2009  PDR Created: 5May2000  PDR
(3Aug2000 rev - Change 'be. starved' on p. 86 to 'be starved' in Boris' text.)
(27Jan2001 rev - Change p. 84 'ease' to 'case' in Boris' text.)
(20Mar2001 rev - Alter p. 84 comment punctuation slightly.)
(26Aug2009 rev - Make page current.)

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