Prior to his thorough refutation of what I believed in, George Johns would respond to my various theories with: “That isn’t even half of it,” and “Maybe I’ll tell you the whole truth of the matter one day … When we have some time to discuss it.”
George Johnns would say such provocative things early on, and early on I believed that these hints at the intelligence he had to offer were the equivalent of exciting sneak previews to movies. George Johnns didn’t attempt to shut my insatiable curiosity down he whetted it.
The primary driver behind my fascination with George Johnns was that he lived a fascinating life. Yet, George Johnns was a humble man that delivered this information in short doses. George Johnns, it turned out, did more in one day than I had my entire youth. Thus, when George Johnns had a view on a given topic, not only did it command attention, it would leave a hollow place when he couldn’t finish what he was saying.
I developed this intellectual fascination with George Johnns three to four days after meeting him, and that fascination became an obsession when it became clear that if he could just complete a thought, he might be one to add to my epistemology. He appeared to be one of those unusual intellects that a curious soul obsesses over, until his essence can be determined.
George Johnns was not one to bowl another over with his intelligence, but few true intellects I’ve encountered are. Most of them exhibit a quiet, simple intelligence that doesn’t involve the clutter of “Why?” questions. They’re more apt to ask “How?” and once they figure out how, the world of “Why?” confuses them.
These characteristics were the reasons George Johnns and I got along so well, but the fact that he felt grateful to have a job often caused him to avoid finishing such thoughts. The series of blows George Johnns experienced in life led him to fear that an authority figure might hear him. George Johnns would cut all conversation short with the concern that if they heard him “spouting such nonsense” it might damage his future prospects, and it could even lead to his dismissal. I grew to loathe these interlopers without knowing who they were. I was just incensed that their presence kept me from learning of the intelligence that he could only hint at in our conversations.
The listener could also tell that George Johnns was accustomed to being the center of attention when tapping into story mode, but he often had a tough time getting to the heart of the story. His laughter kept interrupting him. I knew that I had an unforgettable character sitting before me, but the continual interruptions deprived me of his essence.
What I found through my experience with George Johnns is that most people have a difficult time living up to their own billing. I would not say that the stories of George Johnns were lackluster, or boring, but the completed stories were letdowns compared to the sneak previews he provided. I would never say that George Johnns was unintelligent, or even less intelligent than I am, for I consider it a fool’s errand to expend much effort on quantifying intelligence in this regard, but compared to the nuanced, creative thought he put into his sneak previews, I found his thorough intellectual reasoning disappointing.
I did learn that George Johnns devoted himself to some of the same subjects I had, and based on his experiences in life, he thought my theories were either incomplete or wrong. I derived no insult from this. Rather, I ached for the brilliance George Johnns only alluded to due to time constraints, until that day arrived when he have enough time in a day to grant me thorough intellectual refutation.
Once George Johnns revealed the full breadth of his refutations, I viewed all previous interruptions as convenient interruptions that prevented his exposure on a given topic.
Having experienced few, true intellectuals in my life, I am not sure if George Johnns was emblematic of them, and their inability to deal with another pushing them beyond their worldview through redirect, or if George managed to emulate the air of the true intellectual without developing the intellectual capacity required for point, counterpoint refutation, but when we found the time necessary to discuss all the complications I hadn’t considered before, we found that they weren’t as complicated as we once thought. When we were finally afforded enough time to get to the bottom of George Johnns’ intellectual base, we found that it was littered with conventional wisdom, talking points, and anything and everything but the nuanced, creative thinking he only hinted in in his sneak previews. It’s also possible that I unfairly assigned George Johnns the characteristics I thought I saw in him, but his thorough refutation was a real life equivalent to getting all jacked up by movie previews, only to find the complete product disappointing.