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Old 09-09-2003, 01:51 PM   #1
Reeka
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Join Date: March 2, 2001
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I was talking to someone who posts regularly on a board that promotes creative writing. He was talking about how many young people (teenagers) there were that posted there and how so many of them were really talented and gifted (this guy has a Master's in English so he sort of knows his stuff). We got to talking about that that is pretty rare in writing to see that. He said you don't see any "prodigies" in creative writing. I said, I didn't know of any in art, i.e., painting, sculpting, etc. But, you do see child prodigies in music. I guess the best know example, though at bit extreme, was Mozart, but you do see children that are excellent and accomplished musicians at an early age. (Being a musician this is of interest to me.) We could not think of any other creative art that you see "child prodgies" in but music.

So, I wanted to know, if you know more than I know, i.e., child prodigies in other areas, and if you agree with us on this, why do you think it is? I have been thinking about it and I really don't know at this point.

I would like to have some other peoples thoughts on the matter.
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Old 09-09-2003, 02:19 PM   #2
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Haley Joel Osment - an acting prodigy
Nick McDonell - writing
Maksim Mrvica (on our language it's translated "crum") - music(flight of the bumble-bee as an example)
There are tons of others, I just can't gather them all.
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Old 09-09-2003, 03:09 PM   #3
Granamere
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A good bit of computer hackers. Tons of them are young and very talented on the computer. Not all do bad things some build websites, code games, code mods, etc. Figure out ways to cheat in games. Hey it takes a lot of know how to hack into some of the games out there.

I go by the true meaning of Hacker not the media version of it. Fixing a toaster could be hacking.

On a more classical note Galileo and Leonardo di Vinci. In my mind they were really good hackers.

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Old 09-09-2003, 03:53 PM   #4
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Prodigies of Procrastination are fairly common among the teenage kind.
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Old 09-09-2003, 05:28 PM   #5
Bardan the Slayer
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Quote:
Originally posted by Granamere:
A good bit of computer hackers. Tons of them are young and very talented on the computer. Not all do bad things some build websites, code games, code mods, etc. Figure out ways to cheat in games. Hey it takes a lot of know how to hack into some of the games out there.

I go by the true meaning of Hacker not the media version of it. Fixing a toaster could be hacking.

On a more classical note Galileo and Leonardo di Vinci. In my mind they were really good hackers.

Granamere
I disagree. I think people are devaluing the word 'prodigy', which in my mind would be translated as something akin to 'young genius'.

Now, it is very true that there are many gifted, really good computer hackers out there, but that does not mean to say that they are genius material. If all it took to be classed as a genius or a prodigy was to be "really, really good" at something when you were young, then the world would be swimming in them. In virtually every area, you get young children who are 'really, really good'.

When I hear talk of a prodigy, I don't equate it with 'really, really good', just as 'genius' (in an academic situation, for example) does not just mean someone 'really really smart'. It means someone who is noticeably outside the normal boundaries of 'really good' and 'really bad'.

Da Vinci was a genius. It wasn't because he was 'really good', otherwise the world would be drowning in Da Vincis. He was a genius because he had a spark, a special something that set him head and shoulders above the rest, completely on his own level. That is what being a genius is about, and that's what a child would have to do to be classed as a 'prodigy', IMHO. Not just be 'really good', but to be so far and above the normal level of children his age that it almost defied belief.

Now, we *do* get musicians in that category, along with mathematicians, and I may even stretch so far as to say acting, if you could convince me there was a child actor who instinctively had the talents that made him as good an actor as a gifted and practised adult. But in writing? I've read alot of work by gifted adults, and alot of work by gifted children. The one thing that strikes me about writing is that there is no line you could draw under some authors and say "These people are simply inherently far better than other writers, and no other writer could match them, no matter how much they practised."

That is what I go by. A guy could be a really talented hacker, but could another, more average person eventually get to that person's level of ability given enough time to practise, and the information he needs? If the answer is yes, then the hacker is not a genius or prodigy - just a guy who is good with computers.

Da Vinci was not just 'a guy who was good at inventions' - he came up with stuff that other people of the time could *never* have conceived of, no matter how much time they were given. That is what classifies someone as a genius or prodigy in my terms. To me, 'prodigy' is totally different from 'young person who is really good at something'

Whew, long semi-rant
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Old 09-09-2003, 07:59 PM   #6
Reeka
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Well, not quite the response I was looking for. Let me see if I can clarify. When I think of a prodigy, I think more along the lines of what Bardan said, it is an in born thing, you can't "learn" or be "taught" to be a prodigy. You either are are you aren't. Being really really smart or really really talented is not, IMO, the same as being a prodigy.

But for the purposes of this thread, I was thinking more about the strictly "creative" arts. I know that there are mathematical prodigies. Personally, I don't see how one could be a computer prodigy in the strictest sense of the word. Knowledge of computers is something I feel is learned and acquired.

It may be a fine distinction, but I can fee it. Or maybe I am totally off base here.
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Old 09-10-2003, 03:54 AM   #7
JrKASperov
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Hmm, I might not be a prodigy, but I wonder what you think of this:

I have been playing my bass for only 2 years and 8 months. In this time, everything I have accomplished I have done only by myself. I had no teacher, save my cd's. Now, I think I can say that I have reached a level of playing that is well... fast (the guitarist playing for 8 years is slower than I am), I can improvise solo's quite easily, I do NOT read any notes, I do know what note is what fret on my board, but I cannot read those papers with lines and notes. Now, I have been dabbling into some of the symphonic rock(YES). In about one hour, I have learned myself the complete song of Heart of the Sunrise (it's 11 minutes). Is this an extraordinary feat or not, cause people in my band say I am really really good though I myself think I am less than most players. Maybe you guys could give me some insight.
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Old 09-10-2003, 07:25 AM   #8
Melusine
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Nope, sorry. Not overly impressed. You're just "really good" (or are told you are ) but as Bardan and Reeka said, that has no relevance in a topic on child prodigies. You would be a prodigy or really something special if at a very young age you played bass so well that you belonged to the top players of the world and were offered scholarships, giving concerts/recitals to crowds going wild with admiration and awe, etc. Just having your bandmates telling you you're incredibly good doesn't really cut it. Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt that you're as good as you and they say you are, and that you have a natural talent for playing the bass, I'm just saying that you are not alone in that accomplishment. I know quite a few people who play in relatively unknown bands, who are completely autodidactic (self-taught) and who are really very good musicians. That's a far cry from someone like Mozart, who started playing at three, composed music at 6 and his first opera at 12 and went on in his short life (he died at 35!!) to attain a level of genius that in my opinion and that of many critics is completely unique. Even if you take less illustrious examples, there is still a BIG difference between being really good (which can be subjective to a large extent) and being a genius (which is to an extent objective). And as Reeka was talking about child prodigies in this topic.... (actually, those children you originally started talking about, the creative writing ones, are probably a far cry from prodigies or geniuses too, right? I have seen some pretty good and promising teenage writing online (you know who you are) but if I'm honest it's pretty damn rare! So those would be examples of being "really good" and talented too, rather than examples of genius. If not, I'd love to read some!)

On topic: I think it's a good and interesting question! You're right many composers/musicians have been child prodigies but I too was hard-pressed to think of geniuses in other arts that showed promise at an early age. Perhaps Keats is a good example, he died at 25 leaving behind poems that are arguably better than most people could produce in a full lifetime. Not really a child prodigy maybe, but certainly a young genius. Also an artist like Aubrey Beardsley, who showed a great deal of promise at drawing when he was just a child, and who went on to create a very idiosyncratic, popular and (in)famous style of drawing. He too died at 25.

I'll have to think more on this - I do think there are other young geniuses in the literature department certainly, not sure if I can think of any others.

[ 09-10-2003, 06:27 AM: Message edited by: Melusine ]
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Old 09-10-2003, 07:36 AM   #9
The Hierophant
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Quote:
Originally posted by JrKASperov:
Hmm, I might not be a prodigy, but I wonder what you think of this:

I have been playing my bass for only 2 years and 8 months. In this time, everything I have accomplished I have done only by myself. I had no teacher, save my cd's. Now, I think I can say that I have reached a level of playing that is well... fast (the guitarist playing for 8 years is slower than I am), I can improvise solo's quite easily, I do NOT read any notes, I do know what note is what fret on my board, but I cannot read those papers with lines and notes. Now, I have been dabbling into some of the symphonic rock(YES). In about one hour, I have learned myself the complete song of Heart of the Sunrise (it's 11 minutes). Is this an extraordinary feat or not, cause people in my band say I am really really good though I myself think I am less than most players. Maybe you guys could give me some insight.
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Old 09-10-2003, 11:03 AM   #10
JrKASperov
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Allright, I was just at a loss here, doubting myself. I was not asking whether I was a prodigy myself, but if you guys have any experience with other musicians maybe, and you could use that comparison to find some degree to put me in. I personally know only ONE player who is definately better than me at playing and we play about the same length of time. I know he is far mroe devoted than I am, since he plays as much as 4 hours per day, besides school and such. But I cannot really compare myself with that. And to let you understand, it's hard when you think that you are not that good, while everyone else says you are.
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