Now we have emotional intelligence, spiritual intelligence, ecological intelligence, intuitive intelligence and industrial intelligence. Astute books have been written about these, and I am sure more intelligences will be found as we go along.
I am interested in intelligence, because when I feel unintelligent, as I frequently do, I seek to feel intelligent again. Feeling intelligent is better than feeling unintelligent.
How do you know when you are being or acting intelligently? This question has fascinated me all my life because I was brought up in a way that encouraged me towards scholastic intelligence, spiritual obedience, economic ignorance, emotional servility, sexual idiocy and subjective clarity. I have had the good fortune of experiential influences in my life to have changed the balance of all this, and have learnt things that have changed my mind, direction, values and intelligence. I am sure that I am intelligent, but I can't prove it, not even to myself.
For a very short while I worked in the context of that well-known oxymoron, military intelligence. My job was to carry the files from the top secret cabinets to the meetings and put them away again after the meetings. They trusted me not to open the files which was probably the height of stupidity. What I did learn, however, was that if your enemy knew more about you than you knew about the enemy, you were likely to lose the battle.
In the functional world, intelligence relates to data-gathering, analysis, decision-making, policy, action, delivery, feedback. In the personal and interpersonal world, intelligence relates to insight, balance, wisdom, values, right action and one special core aspect which I deem to be impenetrable and inscrutable because it lies beyond the reach of language and even thought. Fortunately, or unfortunately, this core aspect lives cheek by jowl with the mixed up sphere of emotion and instinct. These very alive imperatives remind us that we come from the belly of a very hot earth, and that our earthiness and starriness are linked in unclear ways.
This core intelligence is humbling, but not to the point of inaction. It is electrifying, often to the extent of premature commitment such as religious zeal. It can be restrictively instinctive, resulting in maternal over-protection, sexual addiction, purposeless aggression, over-identification, by way of examples.
I don't know what it is, what to call it, whether humans can conceptualize it, whether anything can be done to domesticate it.
It is an aliveness, even more, Presence, before which we had better lose all pretensions at intelligence, and learn, as quickly as possible, to relate, communicate and above all, grow in recognition. We tell ourselves strange stories, moving myths, poignant poetry and use music, architecture and art to appropriate this aspect of core intelligence that words fail to capture.
In my view, this mysterious core intelligence is a matter of grace: if you aspire too much, it evades, if you desire too much, it escapes. If your heart remembers the heat of conception with ease rather than urgency, perhaps the dream will be remembered more clearly.
Does the idea of intelligence actually apply in respect of such a view?
I think it does, if we move away from a neurologically-centred basis, and go towards subjectivity itself, realising that neurological activity and subjective awareness are not an intelligent enough combination.
The "I" of the "I", the heart of the heart, the soul in itself, the spirit, if you can catch it, the Holy Spirit, if you are prepared to recognize: these are all a little dazzling, and can't be reduced to an academic thesis or a statement of conscience.
If I believe I have captured the castle, perhaps I should go back to bringing the files.