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Something about Barry John

Several of the clips they’re showing now have him talking about, obviously, having that something. But he goes on to say that a part of it is simply going with it. Shrug, well, I can just see. That way, it’ll work.

There are those who have this. OK, he was a rugby player, not the most important of all things in the world. But there really are people who just, in some or other aspect of life, just do see. To them it’s obvious, that’ll go.

McCartney in music say. Doesn’t mean that everything does actually work (Pipes of Peace!). Feynman in physics (and lockpicking but not bongos). Mozart in the words of the play – God’s conduit to this world.

But there’s a higher level to this too. And I’d say that Feynman and John both had it (however absurd we might think the comparison is, for me in this it works). An awful lot of those with this thing get confused that not everyone else can see it. It’s so obvious to them that, well, not getting it must mean that others are dim, or not paying attention or something. Can’t they see this, it’s obvious?

Having it and also understanding that others don’t and why – that the thing is given to very few – is that higher level of it.

Not sure I’ve made myself clear on this but it is something that I do feel v strongly. There are those out there with vast, superhuman, talent at one thing or another. Which is great, no, really. But the truly great among those are they who realise that it’s what they’ve got which is the unusual thing, not that everyone else is lesser.

10 thoughts on “Something about Barry John”

  1. Isn’t this why the best sports managers and coaches are often those who have competed at the highest level, but not been all that successful? Because of their own failure they have a greater insight into how to get the best out of people. Whereas the godlike sporting superheros often just ‘do it’ without ever knowing how or why, it is to them as you say, all completely obvious. Which knowledge is a bit difficult to impart to those mere mortals who (despite being very good) don’t just ‘see it’.

  2. Not sure I understand.
    As an example Dick Fosbury tried a new thing and it worked, and everyone copied. Those who tried new training techniques in high jump, such as bounds from high box drops but still used the old techniques, didn’t get the fame.
    Did Mozart and John do something that was great and new but also *uncopiable*. Is that what you’re driving at?

  3. Feynman’s persona reminded me very much of my uncle. I was introduced to Feynman vids relatively recently and the title of one of them- its fun to imagine- a bbc 1980s programme (over here cos he was boffing some yorkshire lass apparently) sums it up. He’s into playing. Yep no doubt it’s serious play which is indistinguishable from hard work, but the mindset is – we’re playing. When i turned up as an impoverished teenager at my uncle’s, he would go get a chainsaw and put on some gloves, point me to where the wheelbarrow was and say ok let’s have some fun.

  4. Did Mozart and John do something that was great and new but also *uncopiable*. Is that what you’re driving at?
    Isn’t it more that Mozart and John not only had something uncopiable, but that they realised they had it, and that just because mere mortals don’t have it, it didn’t make them lesser, or worse people.

  5. Obviously not on anything like such a world shattering scale, but when I was in my early thirties, a rival company approached my then employer and asked if a colleague and I could do a major project for them. It was obviously a very odd thing to do, but they clearly valued our knowledge to the extent that they were willing to make such an approach rather than go to a consulting company which would be the more usual way of doing things. Our company gave its blessing as it would cut our cost to the company and enable us to gain valuable knowledge and experience for future internal work.

    While doing the work, l said to my colleague “I can’t believe that someone is paying us to tell them what we’re telling them.” He replied “that’s the whole point, what is self-evident to you, is not to most other people.”

    Up until that point, I’d assumed I was just competent at what I did, afterwards, I realised that I could sell what I had, and consequently have spent most of the last 30 years as a consultant.

  6. Would agree that some people just ‘have it’, usually best seen in music and sport.
    And for every one person who ‘had it’ there must be hundreds who could have ‘had it’ but didn’t because of circumstance. All the Messis who grew up somewhere they don’t play football, all the Hendrixs who never picked up a guitar.

    It’s part of the beauty of humanity. GK Chesterton said somewhere that the thing that makes murder really bad is that whoever you kill might have been about to write a brilliant sonnet the next day, and you’ve destroyed that.

  7. It’s so obvious to them that, well, not getting it must mean that others are dim, or not paying attention or something.

    Feynman was definitely like that. He didn’t think he was in any way ‘special’, and said that anyone could do what he did if they just applied themselves.

  8. Occasionally though I bump into someone who is clearly an order of magnitude smarter than me. Someone who absorbs and understands new information at a rate I can’t even comprehend, and I am regarded as quick amongst the smart people I work with in finance.

    At these meetings I understand what dealing with Mozart or Feynman must have been like. They just can do things inaccessible to even the smartest of us. They are beyond the comprehension of average people. It isn’t all about application as these people can learn things faster than the rest of us so it would take us years of effort to get there. And frankly I’ve better things to do with my time.

  9. I think it was Donald Michie (we mustn’t hold his children against him) who said of his time at Bletchley Park: obviously there were a lot of very clever people working in code breaking. Occasionally one would come up with a new idea, and you’d think to yourself, “That’s very clever. Given another day or two, I might have come up with that.” But then Alan Turing would throw in an idea and you’d think, “I’d never have thought of that in a million years.”

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