Beyond intelligence: from darkness to light and to laugh at the soul

IQ, Seasonality, Heredity and Environment

Flowers for Algernon

Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind’s eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees any one whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter life, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he have a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will be more reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from above out of the light into the den.

-Plato, The Republic

The light of intelligence and accomplishment draws and mesmerizes like a moth to a candle flame.
But lest we forget, at the very edge of our light’s bounds, lies the unseen world of our original begotten darkness.

When we do return “from above out of the light” back into the dark dens, the truest accomplishment may be that silvery laughter at our own foolish souls…and in offering a flower to our own algernons.

4 thoughts on “Beyond intelligence: from darkness to light and to laugh at the soul

  1. Maybe we are all like Scarecrow, only two days old and already fretting over an apparent lack of smarts and with a rather misplaced yearning for a brain of “bran, pins and needles”; when we already possess within us real intelligence and wisdom.

    There may be a case to be more like Tin Man, whose hollow metallic bosom hides a most tender ‘heart’; who is always aware of his cold hard edges and taking care to ease his way and be gentle in engaging the world.

  2. “I don’t know enough,” replied the Scarecrow cheerfully


    “I don’t know enough,” replied the Scarecrow cheerfully. “My head is stuffed with straw, you know, and that is why I am going to Oz to ask him for some brains.”

    “Oh, I see,” said the Tin Woodman. “But, after all, brains are not the best things in the world.”

    “Have you any?” inquired the Scarecrow.

    “No, my head is quite empty,” answered the Woodman. “But once I had brains, and a heart also; so, having tried them both, I should much rather have a heart.”

    “All the same,” said the Scarecrow, “I shall ask for brains instead of a heart; for a fool would not know what to do with a heart if he had one.”

    “I shall take the heart,” returned the Tin Woodman; “for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.”

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