Saturday, February 6, 2010

Smart vs. Intellectual

T and I just got into a "discussion" (aka fight) about the difference between smart and intellectual.  Call me snooty, but I resonate with the people we meet who I deem "Intellectuals".  That means they read for pleasure, discuss and debate ideas in a natural and curious ways, and are interested in learning and thinking.  To me, being smart just means that people read, absorb and file away information rather than processing, synthesize, questioning, and discussing it.  Intellect takes work, curiosity, and role modeling.  Smart take discipline and an ability to read for facts coupled with the capacity to remember them.

I come from a family of highly intellectual people, around whom I often felt inferior to when I was growing up.  Now, as an adult, I realize that these types of people are the ones who push me, who encourage me to think, who shake my brain out of its atrophying state.

T took offense during out discussion.  He thought that I was drawing a line between his friends --with whom we rarely, if ever, have mind-blowing or brain stretching conversations-- and my new friend, by whom I think he feels intimidated even thought they seem to me to be the most non-judgmental and welcoming of people.  Privately, I think T is smart, thought when pushed can put on the intellectual hat.  It just doesn't come naturally to him.

But when he puts on that hat, damn is he sexy.

While I have not allowed our different ways in this regard to interfere with our relationship, I worry that this approach to friends and conversation and life will be a growing problem for us.  Or, are there reasonable and thoughtful ways to push it, again, to the background?

1 comment:

Dior said...

I so agree with your perspective on the difference between smart and intellectual people. In fact, most academically smart people I know are incapable of intellectual conversations and find it to be too taxing or intimidating. Not that I am judging but I find it to be quite sad. They've got to be more than that.

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