It’s been a fairly busy weekend of proofreading and rewriting, but I found time to watch a movie this afternoon, and I’m glad I did. I’m also glad I didn’t see it at the cinema. When I go to the cinema, which I only do once or twice a year, I like to be entertained – jokes, music, dancing, beautiful women, perhaps a suspenseful plot and a bit of well choreographed violence, but those aren’t my favorites.
This was a movie worth seeing, it was in some ways inspiring, in some ways informative, definitely interesting, but it didn’t have a whole lot of big yucks in it. It was ‘The Theory of Everything,’ the Stephen Hawking story.
They say that great artists must suffer – I don’t think it’s quite as universal as that, but there are sure a lot of examples. There’s no shortage in the science community, either. Of course, Troubled Genius Syndrome usually refers to psychological troubles – Newton was an emotional cripple, Tesla talked to himself and fed pigeons, and that guy Russell Crowe played in ‘A Beautiful Mind’ was living in a completely different reality.
There can’t actually be any link between Hawking’s genius and the fact that he’s got motor neuron disease – not a direct link, anyway. But, he became more focused when he lost all physical capacity, when he was reduced to living inside his mind. Up to that point he was an extremely bright, but somewhat lazy, graduate student at Cambridge. Pretty elite stuff, but still just one among many.
Do we owe the knowledge gained by Hawking’s existence to the horrible suffering he has had in his life? That would make him, like, the Jesus Christ of Science. Knowledge gained is knowledge gained forever, but it’s tragic that the giver of that knowledge paid such a high price, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.