I found this comment by “Syahidah and Valentine” while rereading an old Bruce Charlton post on the modern hostility to genius.
You often opine that there are no major modern geniuses left. I would agree that there may be few or none known…but I believe that they exist: it is the hostility that you speak of, to them, that keeps them unknown, unsuccessful and uninfluential. It is very interesting to weigh our experiences with our son, a creative omnibus prodigy, against your statements about the nature of the West. The coverage of Ainan’s achievements (across diverse areas such as Science, writing, film-making, directing, composing among others), has been strong in Asia, but interestingly non-existent in the USA (apart from one article in the Wall Street Journal, front page), and relatively minor in the UK (a couple of articles). In Asia there have been hundreds of articles. To my mind, this indicates a very cultural stance towards creative giftedness, underway. I rather think that the West is in for a surprise, in the next few decades, once these differential attitudes have had time to play themselves out. Valentine Cawley.
Cawley was a child prodigy. Here’s a relatively good article including him.
For other children, being smart makes them a target. Ainan Celeste Cawley – the youngest person in the world to pass O-level chemistry at seven and physics at nine – was bullied “extensively” during his Bukit Timah Primary School days, though he opened up about the incidents only “in recent months”, says writer-actor dad Valentine Cawley, 45.
Ainan, 13, says: “Once, someone tripped me with his leg. I just picked myself up and left.
“I did not teach myself to not care, I just don’t care. Unless they are serious in their words, why should I take them into consideration?”
His mother is Singaporean artist Syahidah Osman, 34, and he has two brothers, Fintan, nine, and Tiarnan, seven.
The family live in an apartment in Kuala Lumpur, where Ainan is in Taylor University’s American Degree Transfer Programme, which allows for flexible, broad-based learning. He is majoring in the sciences but doing everything from computer programming to theatre. Last year, he composed the score for a 15-minute short film for a film festival.
Mr Cawley has learnt a lesson from his son not to “regiment” him. The boy began composing at six but when his parents arranged music lessons for him, he “wouldn’t touch the piano for the next six years”, says dad.
Ainan says: “I do not enjoy rigorous and repetitive training, which was the way I was being taught then.”
Here’s a video of him as a teenager being bored to tears (until he starts goofing off with his brothers):
Here he is as a kid describing his velocity-based synesthesia: