Friday, July 11, 2014

What is intellectual?

After a picture of Albert Einstein (who, I
think, was more intelligent than intellectual),
this is the first picture that
turned up on my simple
Google search
        Somewhere along the line, someone got the stupid idea that only those books deemed classical are considered intellectual. Of course, by someone, I mean Hollywood (There isn’t a day that goes by without me noticing the stereotyping created by what constitutes our entire film industry). Well, maybe I’ve been too harsh- it is Hollywood’s job to create stereotypes, to create an idiosyncratic character who reflects characteristics of the certain parts of society it wants to invoke -it is the way of art- but I still can’t help but cringe every time a new movie comes out and the nerdy-but-cute girl enters with an old-and-boring book in her hand, and huge glasses.

          Hollywood has programmed us to think that an “intellectual” is a man in cordovan loafers and a turtleneck, or a women with no fashion sense whatsoever; both have the essential glasses, and their noses stuck in a wearying book. Unfortunately, intellectual doesn’t mean that you read books of old- it means that you have insightful opinions on them. It is not the subject that makes a person intellectual, but the thought the person puts into it. One can be an intellectual on all things teen pop culture if they want; all they have to read is Teen Vogue, and Seventeen, and other magazines, and have an impressive opinion about the things they read- millions of girls simply copy their styles off of these magazines, but millions of others use them as ground zero, building up from there, and enhancing their own styles. So yeah, what I’m trying to say is that a person who reads Teen Vogue can be considered intellectual just as much as person who spent all of last weekend reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, but has learnt nothing from it-except for what has directly been stated, can be considered pretentiously stupid.
She's intellectual too...that style is unmistakably
original


              This is probably going to lead into stereotyping, so I'm going to stop before I go down that road. Any ol' person can study. Studying is easy, it's like being a kitchen sponge: soaking everything in, and then not knowing what to do, so you gradually let everything seep out. Learning, on the other hand, is more like being a frying pan: you take what you knowledge you get and then work on it, and change it, until you've made something useful from it. Because learning isn't about reading textbooks and other people's research, and rearranging it; learning is about reading textbooks and research papers, then forming your own thoughts about it-doing your own research. A lot of people focus on the reading, and they forget that thinking is a really important part of learning too! And just like that, you'll see that the original and stylish girl who reads Teen Vogue has learnt just as well as the guy who discovered a whole new side to James Joyces' Ulysses- because both of them did their research, and both of them thought about their research, and got new ideas about it.

Intellectual-ness (intellectuality? no that doesn't work either...)isn't about how much knowledge you have, and what kind of knowledge you have, it's about being able to think and use that knowledge.