Late Bloomers and Those Who Love Them

"His mother had read everything to him and in medical school his wife was reading aloud all books and references...there was some opposition to his continuance in medical school on the part of the dean and one other faculty member, but the opposition subsided...After his graduation a report came from a distance medical school hospital stating that this man was the best intern they had had for some time. He passed his American boards in internal medicine and became the head of a group practice clinic in a large city..." - Lloyd Thompson, Reading Disability

In Malcolm Gladwell's chapter on Late Bloomers, you'll find touching stories of talented late bloomers and the friends and family who did patiently supported and guided them through the years. At right, Ambrose Vollard, who sat 150 times from 8am until 11:30 without stop for Cezanne, although the end product was still thrown away by the artist in disgust. Vollard believed in Cezanne; and eventually he took it upon himself to collect every painting of his he could, sponsoring Cezanne's first one-man show at the age of 56.

From another paternal patron, Emile Zola:

"I’ll reckon out for you what you should spend. A room at 20 francs a month; lunch at 18 sous and dinner at 22, which makes two francs a day, or 60 francs a month. . . . Then you have the studio to pay for: the Atelier Suisse, one of the least expensive, charges, I think, 10 francs. Add 10 francs for canvas, brushes, colors; that makes 100. So you’ll have 25 francs left for laundry, light, the thousand little needs that turn up. "

Gladwell ends "Late bloomers’ stories are invariably love stories, and this may be why we have such difficulty with them. We’d like to think that mundane matters like loyalty, steadfastness, and the willingness to keep writing checks to support what looks like failure have nothing to do with something as rarefied as genius.But sometimes genius is anything but rarefied; sometimes it’s just the thing that emerges after twenty years of working at your kitchen table."

1 comment:

  1. Yes, and how much genius is lost for want of a patron today? It seems as though it just gets more and more difficult to subsist in society today; just securing the necessities of life, and a safe place to live may consume all the resources a person has, or more. And it seems so sad that in a land of such wealth we cannot do any better than this.