Monday, July 4, 2016

Very different brains

"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brain."

There was a long silence.

"I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything."
A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

A.A. Milne fills his Winnie-the-Pooh books with references to brains. Christopher Robin has the best one, and he is the one the other characters always turn to when they are really stumped. Owl, like Rabbit, has a brain, and earns respect because he can spell his own name, even if he does spell it WOL, and he can even "spell Tuesday so that you knew it wasn't Wednesday." Others of them just have fluff in their heads, we are told, and Pooh himself is "a Bear of Very Little Brain."

Yet Pooh writes songs, which he calls Hums, Tigger can bounce better than anyone else and Kanga is an excellent mother to Roo. Each character in the stories contributes something, and none of them can do everything. At one time or another, each depends on others in their group.

I don't watch many current television series, but I have become a belated fan of both The Big Bang Theory and Bones, and I have enjoyed Scorpion since the first episode. Each of these series, like others of recent vintage like Monk and the many variations on the Sherlock Holmes stories, features one or more characters with exceptional brains but who are deficient in social skills or are unable to understand such things as irony or sarcasm. On episodes of Bones, I've heard characters say things like, "I don't know what that means," "I'm not good with metaphor" and "that's slang, right?" The geniuses in these shows always have friends with more average brains to help them understand things their more powerful brains cannot grasp.

In one Calvin and Hobbes panel, Calvin defends himself after screwing up a class project by saying, "Some of us are too smart for the class." When a classmate scoffs, he adds, "You know how Einstein got bad grades as a kid? Well, mine are even worse!" Calvin is right about one thing. His brain does work differently than other brains, and in his own way, he is a genius.

A friend of mine was in an Eeyore kind of mood one day, a bit down on herself, and she said, "Nobody else seems to think the same way I do." "Nobody does," I told her. "That's why you are necessary."

No comments:

Post a Comment