The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Berjaya Times Square and Bukit Bintang

I had always thought of Orchard Road, in Singapore, as quite a big shopping centre. That was until I went to Malaysia. Today, we went to Bukit Bintang and Berjaya Times Square. It was like entering a new world - a chaotic, gigantic, new world.

Berjaya Times Square is built as if for giants: it is a shopping centre on such a scale that it makes people seem dwarfish and insignificant. So big is it that I wonder just how often one would have to visit to actually get to know one's way around. At first sight, it seems an impossibility that anyone could ever know their way around such a huge place. Perhaps they don't. Perhaps everyone, there, is as lost as I felt and wanders at random, hoping to stumble on what they seek.

Now, I am moved to mention the Berjaya Times Square because of its bizarre peculiarity. This is a shopping centre so big that it even has a built in theme park. That's right...a theme park is hidden within this never-ending shopping complex. It has all the attractions one would expect of a theme park - fairground rides and a roller coaster, included (which snakes its way across many floors of the shopping centre.) What really struck me is that the shopping centre is just so large, that I had no idea that the roller coaster was there, until we ascended into one particular wing and heard screams passing by above. Looking up, I saw a roller coaster train whizz by, carrying its terrified (or excited) passengers.

Bukit Bintang, was just as surprising in its own quite a scarey way, if you are not comfortable with huge crowds. I rather think that Saturday evening is not the best time to visit Kuala Lumpur's answer to Singapore's Orchard Road.

The most obvious thing that struck one is how much bigger Bukit Bintang is, in every way, than Orchard Road: it seems to be a shopping nation of its own, engulfing one in a booming, bustling, confusion that, at first impression, has no order or meaning. However, no doubt that is because I don't know where I am, where anything is, or even what anything is. There are a lot of unfamiliar names all around. At present, it is a place that lacks clarity of meaning - since I can't encapsulate it in my mind and understand where everything is and what they are. I have no inner map: it is just a sense of retail chaos...however that sense of the chaotic largely derives, I would think, from my unfamiliarity with the area.

Perhaps, should I visit the area often enough, I would come to understand it, but right now, I just get a feeling of its great immensity.

I didn't think it was possible, but perhaps, just perhaps, Malaysians like their shopping even more than Singaporeans do - at least, they seem to have built shops on an even grander scale than Singapore has ever attempted.

Getting back to our hotel wasn't easy. We couldn't find a cab anywhere (there are too few for the capital, I think...and they tend to be choosier than Singaporean cab drivers - as in some of them won't drive you unless you go off meter...). So, we ended up on a crowded monorail train. It had two main recommendations: it was cheap - and it was faster than by road. Other than that, one could point to the overcrowding, but then Singapore has the same problem with its MRT.

As a first impression, I think I will never forget the startlement at seeing a theme park, inside a shopping centre...and those first screams of thrill-seekers hurtling overhead in their roller coaster, surrounded by shops. How wonderfully strange.

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Friday, December 04, 2009

It's a dangerous world

Last week, Tiarnan, three was walking alongside his mummy, out and about, in town. Suddenly, he looked up at his mummy, and spoke most seriously, in his high little voice:

"It is a dangerous world, mummy.", he observed.

She looked down at him, somewhat startled at his topic of conversation. Before her surprise, had barely begun, he continued: "Hold my hand mummy."

He said it in such a way that it was clear that he was not seeking her protection at all - rather, in his young mind, he was protecting his mother from danger!

How funny.

So, thereafter, Syahidah wandered around town, with her little bodyguard carefully looking after her. It is common knowledge that a bodyguard should be unobtrusive - and who could be more unlikely to attract attention to his "bodyguard" status than a three year old boy?

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Monday, November 30, 2009

The fate of genius.

How do geniuses fare in life? Is their success inevitable? I ask this for a reason. Today, someone from Washingtonville, New York, arrived on my blog with the provocative search terms: "Why do geniuses often fail in life?"

Well, one wonders, firstly: do they? It is difficult to answer this question, for there are no stats to bring to bear on the matter, that I know of. However, it is easy to source anecdotes which suggest that many people, of great talent, live lives beneath their potential. We all, in fact, know such people: people whose intelligence sparkles, in conversation, but whose lives look a little dull by comparison - something is missing, something never happened.

So, let us assume that the assumption of my blog searcher from Washingtonville, is correct. Let us take it that geniuses do often fail in life. Yet, is that the right question? I think we should rather be asking why does life fail geniuses?

You see, the life of a genius is not the easy picture everyone seems to think. There is the basic assumption, of all, that the greatest of intellectual gifts mean that the possessor is blessed with an "easy life" and that, in some way, one should be envious of them. This is, I think, a misplaced envy. Genius is not an easy burden: it is to carry the weight of expectations of a humanity unwilling to help. Everyone expects great things of the "genius" - but they expect them begrudgingly, not really wanting the genius to accomplish them, for how "bad" it would make the ordinary person look by comparison. Thus, the achievement is both expected and resented beforehand. It is a strange circumstance, for the genius is resented for things not yet done: a jealousy permeates the air, for achievements not yet made and which may never be made. It is most bizarre. It is as if the whole of the rest of humanity, imagines the genius' "fated" future life and begrudges them for its lustre - then sits back and hopes desperately that it doesn't happen - or does, more to the point, everything they can to frustrate all progress.

No-one, on Earth, is more hated than a genius, in their early years. Their self-evident gift is a spur to every darker emotion in people: hate and envy gleam in every eye - and for what? Because those others, see, they know that the genius is "better" than they are - and they loathe them for it.

To be a genius is thus to be barred from acceptance by humanity. It is to be thrust out, by an essential difference, into a category of one's own. It is a great thing to be a genius - for, Humanity is only ever united in the presence of one: united in envy of the "Great One".

It is a truth, that all of significant talent, come to observe - that the only admired genius, is a dead genius. It is, you see, impossible to be envious of the dead. Thus, only when a genius is safely interred, will the envy slough away, and the admiration come to the fore. Geniuses have the bizarre distinction of being universally hated in life, and universally loved in death. Most people would rather choose the opposite condition - but it is not for the genius to choose: they were born the way they are and cannot trade it for the alternative. So long as they rise far above the common herd of man, that herd, that sheep-like mass, will despise them for it. That leads us to why so many geniuses "fail".

The only course of action, for a genius who wishes to have a happy life, is to give up being who they are. A genius who "fails" is an ordinary man, once more. A genius who "fails" may be accepted, finally. A genius who "fails" is one who succeeds, in life. For, it is clear, that if a genius fails, they come to be seen to be human again. They can, for the very first time, be embraced as "one of us" - and so, at last, at long, long, last, be befriended by the bulk of Man. A genius who "fails" is a genius who learns how to be loved in life - and forgotten in death.

So, the dilemma of a genius is a difficult one. They must choose either to succeed in becoming who they should be, in expressing what only they can see, and, therefore, step so far outside the limits of the common Man, that there could never be anything in common with that Man. Or they can choose to hide their essence, to leave their thoughts unexpressed and undeveloped, to muffle their inner longings to create and become a semblance of what others are. They can choose to be "normal" or, at least, seem normal in every functional way, by not functioning outside of the norm. If they make this choice, they lose the happiness and sense of fulfilment that attends the highest creative activity - but they gain, in return, acceptance by the wider world; they may be embraced by the community, loved as every "ordinary joe" is loved - in that diffuse kind of way, that comes from thinking that "you" are "one of us".

So, it is not geniuses who fail in life. It is life that fails geniuses. Life fails geniuses by not allowing them the space to be. A genius must choose either a life within the community - or a life outside of it, in a very real sense. You see, if your work, the products of your mind and, indeed, the fullness of your inner thought, are beyond the understanding of the common man, then you, truly, have nothing in common with that man. There is no means to find genuine mutual understanding. It is to be a natural outsider - and, as you probably know, most people never reach out to the outsiders of this world - in fact, they enjoy debarring them, from the shared discourse of all. They feel unified by their act of exclusion.

Geniuses fail, because no-one wants them to succeed - or at least, no-one wants a living genius to succeed. They are quite happy to note that a dead genius, did, since there is nothing threatening about the mental powers of a corpse. Indeed, most living people have the mental powers of a corpse - so they probably feel quite well-disposed to one just like themselves, once the genius has died.

Geniuses discover that there is nothing more adept at working together, than the whole of Man, against the genius, if they are so foolish, as to reveal themselves. Thus, the socially skilled genius (no doubt there are some), notes this and chooses dissemblance - and the most effective means of disguising genius is to do nothing with it, at all. There. Done. "Happy"...but unfulfilled.

Indeed, it seems to me that the only geniuses who would not choose to make this choice are the socially inept geniuses. These would not, perhaps, understand the problem, would not act appropriately upon it, and persist in - oh the cheek of it! - being true to themselves and continue to create their works that so offend Man, whilst they live, but shall so delight them, once they die.

Thus, it is not that geniuses lack social skills - it is just that the only geniuses that we come to acknowledge as geniuses (usually after they are safely decomposed) - are the ones who lacked the social skill to work out how to "fit in" and be socially accepted.

So, there is one thing that a genius may never do, in public, and be accepted - and that is: create! As long as the genius persists in being incapable of being a genius, then they will find themselves quite capable of being loved by all.

So, if you are a genius - what choice have you made: to be loved in life, and forgotten in death...or loathed in life, and loved forevermore, once you are no longer able to feel it?

It is not much of a choice, is it?

Well, there is a solution. Any society which welcomed genius, would suddenly find that it had more of them. Thus, the answer is in all your hands: accept geniuses for what they are, love them for what they do - and don't for a minute feel a twinge of envy. If you can manage this, if the whole of Mankind can manage this, life for all would improve at an immense rate, as all the world's dissembling, self-defeating, "fitting-in" geniuses suddenly get to work, without fear of being loathed for it.

Overnight, there would be a revolution in the fortunes of Man - and all you have to do is stop hating and start loving. Now.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: Thanks.

IMDB is the Internet Movie Database for film and tv professionals. If you would like to look at my IMDb listing for which another fifteen credits are to be uploaded, (which will probably take several months before they are accepted) please go to: As I write, the listing is new and brief - however, by the time you read this it might have a dozen or a score of please do take a look. My son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, also has an IMDb listing. His is found at: My wife, Syahidah Osman Cawley, has a listing as well. Hers is found at:

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication prohibited. Use Only with Permission. Thank you.)

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