The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'eccentricity'
Q: What did Socrates, Charles Darwin, William Butler Yeats and Andy Warhol have in common? A: Asperger's Syndrome or other autism-related conditions, or so Professor Michael Fitzgerald of Dublin's Trinity College claims in a new book.
He said: "Asperger's syndrome provides a plus - it makes people more creative.
"This is typical of people with the condition. They don't fit in, are odd and eccentric and relate poorly with others. Most are bullied at school, as Yeats was." And yet, said the professor, Yeats went on to prove that he had a hugely vivid imagination while remaining socially aloof - both classic signs of Asperger's.
"It proves that we should accept eccentrics and be tolerant of them," he said. "The nation is pushed forward by engineers, mathematicians and scientists."
Several questions arise: (a) how much correlation there is between eccentricity, creativity and autism-related disorders, (b) if the majority of innovators have a certain condition, and do so across all human societies, is it still a "disorder" or "syndrome" or merely a different biological subtype (much like insect castes), perhaps even one that is evolutionarily programmed to appear in a certain proportion of the population (by the expedient that ancestral populations that had the genes for it being so were more successful than ones which didn't)? (via FmH)
A study at Imperial College, London has found that eccentrics become more extreme with age. The researchers speculate that this is due to the human nervous system becoming less plastic, and less capable of covering up eccentricities to better fit in. Though Eliot from whom I got the link suggests it may be due to people becoming less concerned about others' opinions as they grow old. Though I wonder whether, given that thought and consciousness are physical processes, one is not a physical side-effect of the other.
This afternoon, I went to the Museum of Modern Oddities (today was its last day, and I hadn't managed to find the time to go earlier). It was interesting, in a surrealistic sense; it was in an old hardware shop in Collingwood (looking very much like something from decades ago, with decades-old stock still remaining amidst the exhibits), and had a number of exhibits, which took the form of found objects and dioramas thereof, with stories attached.
Some of the exhibits they had were Jock the Racing Possum (a dessicated possum corpse and a glimpse into a little-known aspect of colonial Australian life), the Geoffrey Dunstable Mania Dioramas (arrangements of nails and screws said to depict various states of mania and depression), and various arrangements of objects in boxes, often with labels attached giving them new meanings. There was also a do-it-yourself souvenir stand where one could take souvenirs home, in the form of pre-bagged objects from prior visitors, as long as you placed an object of your own in a bag provided, leaving it for another visitor. There was also a book for sale, of which I bought a copy; it's vaguely surrealistic, and has a lot of nice photographs of objects and other good design.
I also ran into Michael from Beebo there (whom I knew from my days at Monash).
The museum is now closed, but with any luck, they'll reopen at some stage somewhere else.
Life imitates an Italo Calvino story: An Italian man, burned out from his work at a hospital, has abandoned the rat race of terrestrial life and taken to living in trees.
Mollo spends his days bare-chested, playing a harmonica and lives by foraging for berries, nuts, mushrooms and wild greens which grow in the park in the Villa Borghese. He wears torn green trousers, bandanna, trainers and a mossy complexion. He says the trees give him power and keep him young.