Geppetto Genius

Yesterday I was talking about how great the carvings at the Warther Museum were.  But Warther wasn’t the true subject.  We’re only using him to talk about what it means to be a prodigy.

A prodigy is rare, exceedingly.  Throughout history there have been less than a thousand that we know, and of the roughly 8 billion people of all time, that is a vanishingly small fraction.

Some great prodigies stand out, immediately: Archimedes, Newton, Mozart, Shakespeare, da Vinci.  Others take some digging (Can you find them?) But the fact remains that they exist.

Should an advanced society take the extra effort to find and nurture these rare talents?  We don’t know exactly why they are so special, only that they are.  We can’t even really know where they may appear.  Perhaps there’s a child wandering about in the jungles of Africa even now who could be the next poet of the century.  Why not take the extra effort to find them?  Why not embrace them and exalt them?  Protect them from those ho would divert or exploit them, so that their gifts could benefit all mankind?

Yet, in all modern societies of today, we force everyone to complete ‘school.’  We demand banality and exalt the peer group.  We cut down the star so that the rest of us can look them in the eye.

Who needs prodigies?  We do.  Because we need to look up.

I’m just glad that no one convinced Warther to be ‘normal.’


Genius Geppetto

The story of a lonely toy maker wishing his creation comes to life is heartwarming.  But tucked away in a tiny town here in Ohio lived a woodcarver so good that his creations came to life on their own merit.

You can visit the Warther museum and see for yourself.  A man with a 2nd grade education, a lousy automobile driver, and a deep love of family and children single-handedly set a new world standard for whittling and carving.  Not only did he set that standard, he also left his descendants an eternal asset, a legacy ensuring the modest financial security that only a deep love of family, committment to work, and the attachment of great ideals can bestow.

He refused to part with his artistic carvings.  His whittling he gave away freely.  He was not greedy, only asking to be near those he loved.  And he wasn’t afraid of hard work.  He bought the least desirable property on the street, and through boundless energy and ingenuity transformed it into a beautifully landscaped site, the envy of the entire town.  Yes, his wife helped!

But Warther isn’t the true subject of this article only because of his specific talent.  He’s featured because, through him, we can have a greater understanding of what it means to be a prodigy.

But enough of that for now.  I’ll continue this tomorrow.  In the meantime, check out some carvings!



Most every American seems to know what this means – it’s Cover Your Ass!  Personally, I’m glad everyone (mostly) covers their ass.  I really don’t want to know what yours looks like.  Heck, I don’t even want to know what mine looks like.  I totally pity and appreciate those doctors who make it their job to look at the public ass.

Strangely enough, “ass” is also the beginning of “asset.”  So CYA also means cover your assets.  And that’s what really counts in the long run.  If you take care of your assets, you will be better assured of some comfy living later in life.  Perhaps the same is true of your ass, but I don’t want to touch that.

We had a chance to visit the Warther Museum the other day, and it’s a marvel of ingenuity and perseverance.  It represents American idealism at its best, and stands as silent testimony to the greatness of individuals who are sufficiently motivated.  The talent, energy, and dedication of one man has created a magnificent set of carvings that are unique.

More to the point of this story, this man left all his art to his family.  He never sold any of his works.  He told the big bucks big city boys to keep their money because he wasn’t hungry, and had a roof over his head.  That decision has made his family stronger in the long run, because now they have a museum and a legacy to maintain.  It gives them, as a family, a stronger basis upon which to face an uncertain future.

What of our state?  This asset not only benefits the family, but the town surrounding it.  It benefits our state because people will come from around the world to visit.  Do we do anything to promote this museum?  Do we extend any form of assistance?  Do we give them tax breaks?

I certainly hope so.  This is not the place to pick apart the political details that may help or hinder this museum.  And it certainly isn’t the place to try and navigate the partisan politics that would always make their way into the discussion.  No, this is a discussion about behavior.  And in this case, it’s the behavior of the state that’s important.  Does our state, any state, understand the relationship between protecting all its assets in order to better face the future?  Parks, a rare species of salamander, a particular vista, or someone’s artwork?

It would certainly be nice if they did.  In the meantime, I wouldn’t trust the state to do the right thing in a timely manner.