naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Warning: Death Ray)
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I am rather dumbfounded that anyone would ask this question. Even looking past the false dichotomy.

Intellectual genius does not make life easier or make one happier. It is an asset in certain very specific ways under very specific circumstances, and a liability in many others. It is a guarantee of nothing. Being average or above average does give you an advantage over less-intelligent people, but the rewards drop off pretty steeply as the IQ climbs.

Artistic talent probably won't make you happy, either, but I've found that at least for me creativity is more fulfilling than being "smart," and it seems to be that way for most of the people I know. The creative people who aren't particularly bright I have known have at least been happy. The smart but not creative people, not so much. I realize that's anecdata, but seriously, it's very noticeable. For that matter, one of the happiest guys I know is about as sharp as wet sand, and uncreative.

So yeah, I envy talented artists. I do not envy intelligent people, especially "genius" level intelligence.

All this presupposes that an agreement can even be reached about the nature of intelligence, which is an impossible thing to quantify, and it also presupposes a separation between artistic ability and intelligence, when I am not sure there is one. Creativity is a totally valid kind of intelligence.

Given a choice knowing what I know now, I would definitely choose to be a world-class artist, and I would probably voluntarily knock about 30 IQ points off while I was at it. Good lord, that sounds ungrateful, but this intelligence stuff simply is not all it's cracked up to be. It just means you're surrounded by people not as smart as you, many of whom have a terrifying degree of control over your life.

You think it's bad being smarter than your teacher? Try being smarter than your doctor or your judge or, god and all the little fishies save you, your jury.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Warning: Death Ray)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

I am rather dumbfounded that anyone would ask this question. Even looking past the false dichotomy.

Intellectual genius does not make life easier or make one happier. It is an asset in certain very specific ways under very specific circumstances, and a liability in many others. It is a guarantee of nothing. Being average or above average does give you an advantage over less-intelligent people, but the rewards drop off pretty steeply as the IQ climbs.

Artistic talent probably won't make you happy, either, but I've found that at least for me creativity is more fulfilling than being "smart," and it seems to be that way for most of the people I know. The creative people who aren't particularly bright I have known have at least been happy. The smart but not creative people, not so much. I realize that's anecdata, but seriously, it's very noticeable. For that matter, one of the happiest guys I know is about as sharp as wet sand, and uncreative.

So yeah, I envy talented artists. I do not envy intelligent people, especially "genius" level intelligence.

All this presupposes that an agreement can even be reached about the nature of intelligence, which is an impossible thing to quantify, and it also presupposes a separation between artistic ability and intelligence, when I am not sure there is one. Creativity is a totally valid kind of intelligence.

Given a choice knowing what I know now, I would definitely choose to be a world-class artist, and I would probably voluntarily knock about 30 IQ points off while I was at it. Good lord, that sounds ungrateful, but this intelligence stuff simply is not all it's cracked up to be. It just means you're surrounded by people not as smart as you, many of whom have a terrifying degree of control over your life.

You think it's bad being smarter than your teacher? Try being smarter than your doctor or your judge or, god and all the little fishies save you, your jury.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (According to Whom?)
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I am not wanting to piss anyone off, here, I truly am not, but I suspect I might. I just can't -- shouldn't -- let this one go. This notion that people create their luck.

Good or bad, shit happens. Or, if you want to be poetic about it, fortune presents gifts not according to the book.

And, to point out the glaringly obvious, if you can choose it, then it's not luck. You might call it luck, it might even have started as luck, but it isn't luck once you begin making something out of it.

What you do with luck is not the luck itself. Getting something good out of bad luck does not automatically make the bad luck good luck in disguise. People can do well or do poorly with what they are given, but they cannot choose what they get in the first place.

I didn't create the crazy random happenstance that caused me to be born in a technologically and relatively socially advanced country during a time of domestic peace, in a part of the country not as prone to massive natural disasters as it has been described, in a social class that allowed me excellent access to medical care and education, into a race that is not oppressed, and into a body that is mostly functional and pain-free even if there are things about it I wish to god I could change.

I did nothing to cause or deserve those things. They are not a reward for anything. They do not make me superior, or indicate that I am somehow more worthy.

I have actively taken advantage of my good luck where I thought it would be ethical to do so, and yes, I have or could have benefited from a lot of it even though I did not consciously seek to do so (which is "privilege," by the way), but I didn't create it. Hell, since there is nothing wrong with the opposite of a lot of those things, I am not even sure it should be called good luck in the first place.

I also didn't create any bad luck that has affected me. I've made bad things worse, I've been complicit in my own suffering, but a whole lot of the suck of my life has been shit that at its root I did not have any hand in causing or creating. To pull some examples both real and hypothetical, I was a zygote or something when I was programmed to be bipolar and sentenced to wear this particular meat envelope. I didn't create the bad luck that caused me to be born to a bipolar mother who loved me but still fucked my shit up. I also didn't create the bad luck that caused my mom to die of cancer and made me miserable about it. I am almost certainly not going to be the author of my cat's demise, even if I am likely to be the unwilling agent who delivers her to the final editorial appointment.

So unless you believe that people are rewarded or suffer for shit they did in another life that they do not even remember (in which case, dear god, no offense to you and your personal beliefs, but please, never ever talk to me about it) you cannot argue that I brought those things on myself by doing or failing to do something.

There's the old "nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so" argument that states that chanting "this is chocolate" at shit pancakes will make them taste less like shit. Let me tell you, honest to god and all his brass-balled monkeys, that no amount of mantra-chanting will make that work for me.

Some people are what my husband calls "duck people." Unpleasant crap just rolls right off them. How lucky for them. Not everyone is like that. That doesn't mean people like me aren't trying hard enough to create better luck, or aren't trying hard enough to work with what we have. It doesn't mean we are making the wrong choices, or are looking at it wrong.

It means that we do not all start off on a level playing field. We also all have a different baseline abilty to cope, which can make two people on a very similar field unable to make the same goals.

We have talked about this.

We have talked about the cockamamie idea that all mental illness has built-in rewards that outweigh the suck of it, if you try hard enough to find them.

We have talked about the idea that mental illness flat-out sucks; that it's not an issue of choosing to look at it differently, and that people who are genuinely, you know, disabled by their disability are not just Doing It Wrong.

We have talked about how making lemons out of lemonade - or bearskin rugs out of bears - is a useful survival skill, but a resoundingly fucking shitty therapeutic approach.

You may be tough and persistent enough to make jam from the bitterest fruit, canny enough to trade a shit pancake into a Lamborghini, steely enough that adversity just sharpens you like a knife, but those awesome personality features are part of the lucky hand you were dealt. That is your luck, right there.

Telling me that I choose my luck is basically telling me that I chose what happened to me, or that I could choose to not be bothered by it. That may not be how any given person means it, or thinks they mean it, but this is how I, and a lot of people like me, hear it. And we are not wrong to hear it that way. Because a lot of people do think that is true and consciously or subconsciously they hold other people to it; whether that is out of malice or naiveté does not matter, because it is just as false and cuts just the same.

And still I truly wish I could still believe that I can choose my luck, because when I believed that, I felt a hell of a lot safer.

The irony of it is that I am actually a lot safer now that I no longer trust in luck, but instead take shit as it comes and on its own terms. It just doesn't feel safer, because that belief was the armor that stood between me and the knowledge that all the bad shit that happened to other people really could happen to me.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (According to Whom?)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

I am not wanting to piss anyone off, here, I truly am not, but I suspect I might. I just can't -- shouldn't -- let this one go. This notion that people create their luck.

Good or bad, shit happens. Or, if you want to be poetic about it, fortune presents gifts not according to the book.

And, to point out the glaringly obvious, if you can choose it, then it's not luck. You might call it luck, it might even have started as luck, but it isn't luck once you begin making something out of it.

What you do with luck is not the luck itself. Getting something good out of bad luck does not automatically make the bad luck good luck in disguise. People can do well or do poorly with what they are given, but they cannot choose what they get in the first place.

I didn't create the crazy random happenstance that caused me to be born in a technologically and relatively socially advanced country during a time of domestic peace, in a part of the country not as prone to massive natural disasters as it has been described, in a social class that allowed me excellent access to medical care and education, into a race that is not oppressed, and into a body that is mostly functional and pain-free even if there are things about it I wish to god I could change.

I did nothing to cause or deserve those things. They are not a reward for anything. They do not make me superior, or indicate that I am somehow more worthy.

I have actively taken advantage of my good luck where I thought it would be ethical to do so, and yes, I have or could have benefited from a lot of it even though I did not consciously seek to do so (which is "privilege," by the way), but I didn't create it. Hell, since there is nothing wrong with the opposite of a lot of those things, I am not even sure it should be called good luck in the first place.

I also didn't create any bad luck that has affected me. I've made bad things worse, I've been complicit in my own suffering, but a whole lot of the suck of my life has been shit that at its root I did not have any hand in causing or creating. To pull some examples both real and hypothetical, I was a zygote or something when I was programmed to be bipolar and sentenced to wear this particular meat envelope. I didn't create the bad luck that caused me to be born to a bipolar mother who loved me but still fucked my shit up. I also didn't create the bad luck that caused my mom to die of cancer and made me miserable about it. I am almost certainly not going to be the author of my cat's demise, even if I am likely to be the unwilling agent who delivers her to the final editorial appointment.

So unless you believe that people are rewarded or suffer for shit they did in another life that they do not even remember (in which case, dear god, no offense to you and your personal beliefs, but please, never ever talk to me about it) you cannot argue that I brought those things on myself by doing or failing to do something.

There's the old "nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so" argument that states that chanting "this is chocolate" at shit pancakes will make them taste less like shit. Let me tell you, honest to god and all his brass-balled monkeys, that no amount of mantra-chanting will make that work for me.

Some people are what my husband calls "duck people." Unpleasant crap just rolls right off them. How lucky for them. Not everyone is like that. That doesn't mean people like me aren't trying hard enough to create better luck, or aren't trying hard enough to work with what we have. It doesn't mean we are making the wrong choices, or are looking at it wrong.

It means that we do not all start off on a level playing field. We also all have a different baseline abilty to cope, which can make two people on a very similar field unable to make the same goals.

We have talked about this.

We have talked about the cockamamie idea that all mental illness has built-in rewards that outweigh the suck of it, if you try hard enough to find them.

We have talked about the idea that mental illness flat-out sucks; that it's not an issue of choosing to look at it differently, and that people who are genuinely, you know, disabled by their disability are not just Doing It Wrong.

We have talked about how making lemons out of lemonade - or bearskin rugs out of bears - is a useful survival skill, but a resoundingly fucking shitty therapeutic approach.

You may be tough and persistent enough to make jam from the bitterest fruit, canny enough to trade a shit pancake into a Lamborghini, steely enough that adversity just sharpens you like a knife, but those awesome personality features are part of the lucky hand you were dealt. That is your luck, right there.

Telling me that I choose my luck is basically telling me that I chose what happened to me, or that I could choose to not be bothered by it. That may not be how any given person means it, or thinks they mean it, but this is how I, and a lot of people like me, hear it. And we are not wrong to hear it that way. Because a lot of people do think that is true and consciously or subconsciously they hold other people to it; whether that is out of malice or naiveté does not matter, because it is just as false and cuts just the same.

And still I truly wish I could still believe that I can choose my luck, because when I believed that, I felt a hell of a lot safer.

The irony of it is that I am actually a lot safer now that I no longer trust in luck, but instead take shit as it comes and on its own terms. It just doesn't feel safer, because that belief was the armor that stood between me and the knowledge that all the bad shit that happened to other people really could happen to me.

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