Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The difference between stupid and intelligent people...

"Nell," the Constable continued, indicating through his tone of voice that the lesson was concluding, "the difference between ignorant and educated people is that the latter know more facts. But that has nothing to do with whether they are stupid or intelligent. The difference between stupid and intelligent people — and this is true whether or not they are well-educated — is that intelligent people can handle subtlety. They are not baffled by ambiguous or even contradictory situations — in fact, they expect them and are apt to become suspicious when things seem overly straightforward."

— from The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, by Neal Stephenson.

While the above snippet may not be exactly subtle, and Stephenson himself lacks somewhat in subtlety, at least insofar as world-building goes (the concepts may be nuanced but their literary execution is not. Compare, for example, MiĆ©ville, who immerses you in a world with no explanation, it is a given; Stephenson explains everything for you — at least there is no danger of misreading his world.), I am beginning to wish the primer were real so that I might bestow one on my daughter. The primer is fast becoming my favourite imaginary book.

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