Different Intelligences

My pal Steve Greydanus got to talk to Steven Spielberg and the exchange between Greydanus and various actors reminds me again of Dorothy L. Sayers remarks in The Mind of the Maker about the creative process and the mysterious ways in which artistic creativity is not the same as comprehension of the things the artist creates. An artist can be a creative genius, and yet, when he or she turns to trying to articulate what they have created or to talk about its implications, they can often be amazingly dull or even dumb.

There are different kinds of intelligence. Verbal types (like me) tend to equate verbal intelligence with Intelligence. And so the Press, whose stock in trade is words, goes on talking as though Bush is stupid when there is manifold evidence that he merely possesses other forms of intelligence than verbal intelligence (and uses them to run rings around the press). In the same way, great directors (visual artists) like Spielberg often say amazingly mundane things about their own works. Meanwhile, people with enormous verbal intelligence can often be helpless in other forms of more practical intelligence. (Chesterton once wired his wife: “Am at Hampton Station. Where ought I to be?”).