Review of THE PRODIGY by Amy Wallace
by Martha Brassil
The Magill review which says Amy Wallace, "...skillfully weaves vitality and wit into this very unfortunate story of wasted genius..." shows that even now the media continue to regurgitate the same old story and fail to see the truth. WILLIAM WAS NOT DAMAGED. He was a highly evolved and self-motivated person who made remarkable contributions to society.
According to the book's cover, The Prodigy explodes the myth of William Sidis's failure. However she was reluctant to commit herself fully to William Sidis as a genius and to recognise his success. Her greatest failure was her acceptance of unrefuted newspaper articles with their false allegations.
From the onset she writes of his parents, ''...despite their success in interesting him in math, the steering may have been responsible for disastrous consequences that would not manifest for years to come. '' Her implication that his life was to be blighted by disaster is preposterous. Does she regard the fact that William chose his own path, while refusing to conform to society's expectations a disaster? We are led to believe that in a certain sense William rejected society and went underground, casting doubt over his ability to cope with life. If only Amy had taken his philosophy into account she would see that all of this was quite normal.
ONE CANNOT DIVORCE THE MAN FROM HIS PHILOSOPHY. William adopted the teachings of the Okamakammesset Indian tribe which advocated anonymous contribution to society while adhering to the concepts of liberty and truth. His path was essentially one of liberty and truth --in order to follow this he opted out of academia's confines so that he could greatly contribute to society. He worked at low paid jobs so that he didn't have to get involved in the hierarchical power games that people play. William Sidis was not a burnt out prodigy, he was using his own energy for his work.
Wallace claims that Sidis advocated the big bang theory in The Animate and the Inanimate. In fact he was arguing against this very thing. Her interpretation distorts his entire contribution to cosmology, which makes me doubt if she ever read this amazing work.
In the epilogue the reader is further cast into confusion: "The double life of William Sidis was based on a mixture of righteousness and fear. They failed to see that their son was indeed afraid." But William was not afraid. In fact he was a warrior in its truest sense. Fear induces conformity to society's rules whereas William choose his own path and stood up for what he believed in.
''Had the adult William been emotionally capable of applying even a portion of his intelligence to the study of his own psychology how different his life work might have been.'' Her implication that William was emotionally bereft lends us to feel that there was something inherently wrong with him. ''The other factor that damaged William, perhaps the most important of all...'' The list goes on.
So will the media wake up and smell the coffee beans? The gifts of William's productive life and his absolute belief in the truth is what is now finally setting him free. Hello William!