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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
        Wednesday, April 21 2004

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Intellectual/ism

Several people on the Nanty Glo Forum list have mentioned in recent months the perception that some consider me an intellectual. I doubt that they were thinking of that quality the way it's defined in the dictionary linked at the bottom of this page: "of or relating to the intellect or its use: developed or chiefly guided by the intellect rather than by emotion or experience: RATIONAL [the uppercase is the dictionary's, for reasons I can't guess]; requiring use of the intellect; given to study, reflection, and speculation; engaged in activity requiring the creative use of the intellect." All of those senses of the word are in my mind positive, but I suspect that in most people's minds, being "an intellectual" is not all that positive. At best it might equate to something like "someone who uses too many polysyllabic words." At worst...well, let's not go there.

Though I consider all of the features of the definition above positive—nothing to be ashamed of or defensive about—the parts of the definition that I most readily identify with are the final pair: "given to study, reflection, and speculation; engaged in activity requiring the creative use of the intellect." And although I don't consider "intellectual" anything to be shy about, "intellectualism" may be another thing altogether or, as they might say in the Valley, "another kettle of fish." Perhaps I'm thinking of "pseudointellectualism," the pretense of intellectual qualities. One of the phrases still associated with one-time vice-president Spiro Agnew is the best definition of the pseudointellectual: effete snob. I think most people probably confuse "intellectual" and "pseudointellectual."

At age 15 when I pitched to the editor my idea for a teen column in the Nanty Glo Journal, I had only an intuitive grasp of what that required of me. However, intuitive as it might have been, it was no less true that it would include being "given to study, reflection, and speculation; engaged in activity requiring the creative use of the intellect." I wouldn't have known how to answer a direct question while doing the column over the next five years about my use of intellect or displaying characteristics of an "intellectual," but the process was an intellectual one. The outcome was to push me onward to being an intellectual.

Ironically, the first time I ever felt intellectual—a little—was during those years, in Nanty Glo. I still wouldn't have put my finger on what it was. But I had read novels by Ernest Hemmingway, Françoise Sagan, and Somerset Maugham and imagined myself sipping coffee in sidewalk cafes in Paris, having earnest conversations with clever peers. So they were indoor plastic-covered booths in Mitchells' and the K&B, swigging SunDrop not coffee, in Nanty Glo, not Paris. But they were earnest and clever peers, and it was all about the creative use of the intellect.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

Country wisdom

The best sermons are lived, not preached.

—Sent by Mary Ann Losiewicz 

Thought for today

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free.

— P. J. O'Rourke 
Sent by Trudy Myers 

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