“I don’t care about someone being intelligent; any situation between people, when they are really human with each other, produces ‘intelligence.’”
Susan Sontag, quoted by Brendan Berg. She’s right, precisely and exactly.
It’s not the first element of her argument that’s arresting; any idiot knows that intelligence is overrated in all sorts of ways. But the insight that when we are real and human with each other we produce ‘intelligence’ —as an outcome, not as an attribute— is profound, true, and an explanation I’d never encountered for why I prefer the company of the real and dull to erudite performers distracted by their own brilliance. It is not merely a question of taste: the former converse collaboratively, build meanings with you, surprise you; the latter are not so open to discovery because the dialectic process is for them both a pleasure and a competition, and their intelligence is too precious to them to be risked on banal inquiries, dumb guesses, the fatal utterance “I don’t know.”