It became clear that Keisha Blake could not start something without finishing it. If she climbed onto the boundary wall of Caldwell, she was compelled to walk the entire wall, no matter the obstructions in her path (beer cans, branches). This compulsion, applied to other fields, manifested itself as "intelligence." Every unknown word sent her to a dictionary--in search of something like "completion"--and every book led to another book, a process that, of course, could never be completed. This route through early life gave her no small portion of joy, and, indeed, it seemed at first that her desires and her capacities were basically aligned. She wanted to read things--could not resist wanting to read things--and reading was easily done, and relatively inexpensive. On the other hand, that she should receive any praise for such reflexive habits baffled the girl, for she knew herself to be fantastically stupid about many things. Wasn't it possible that what others mistook for intelligence was in fact only a sort of mutation of the will?
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It became clear that Keisha Blake could not start something without finishing it. If she climbed onto the boundary wall of Caldwell, she was compelled to walk the entire wall, no matter the obstructions in her path (beer cans, branches). This compulsion, applied to other fields, manifested itself as “intelligence.” Every unknown word sent her to a dictionary–in search of something like “completion”–and every book led to another book, a process that, of course, could never be completed. This route through early life gave her no small portion of joy, and, indeed, it seemed at first that her desires and her capacities were basically aligned. She wanted to read things–could not resist wanting to read things–and reading was easily done, and relatively inexpensive. On the other hand, that she should receive any praise for such reflexive habits baffled the girl, for she knew herself to be fantastically stupid about many things. Wasn’t it possible that what others mistook for intelligence was in fact only a sort of mutation of the will?

-Zadie Smith

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