Sunday, June 6, 2010

156 / First Rate Intelligence

I am reading through everything I can get, in English, by Irène Némirovsky, and most recently read the introduction to the Everyman's Library edition of a set of her short novels, including the first of her works to gain real public notice, David Golder.

The introduction, by Claire Messud, quotes F. Scott Fitzgerald (pictured), as follows:
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.
It appears that this quote is from an article titled, "The Test of a First Rate Intelligence," published in Esquire Magazine in 1936. Or, it might be from The Crack-Up (or both).

At any rate, it probably does take a first-rate intelligence to be able to function simultaneously in the two worlds I've identified, which define two different and rather opposed realities. Maybe that's why we're all having such a hard time doing it.

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