Intellectual Passing: An Exploration of the Identity of the Genius from the Working Class

Intellectual Passing: An Exploration of the Identity of the Genius from the Working Class

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Within a community, there are differences among the individuals, both subtle and obvious. Emphasizing the differences in intellectual ability, the definition of the genius is a person of great individual talent and ability that far exceeds that of their peers. In that context, the genius comes from all walks of life, yet, inevitably, becomes conflicted with issue of identification. The genius is simply unlike his or her peers, yet desires to identify with their community. In this, the puzzle and conundrum that is the genius is revealed. Focusing on the lower class, a person of great and immense intellect is born into a community where their peers cannot fathom the depths of the individual’s genius. Because the community cannot offer sufficient intellectual or academic nourishment, the genius must abandon the working class community. The community is the home and haven of the genius, but the community cannot match the financial and social stability associated with intellectual and academic pursuits. While the lower class is not inherently stupid or incompetent, it lacks opportunity. The identity of the genius is then in disarray. The genius is physically born into an environment where they feel safe and have a longing to belong, yet they identify with the intellectuals and academics that are not from their community. The genius both passes as a member of the community and as a member of the intellectual elite. The genius can be considered a member of the upper class because they possess the talent and ability to succeed financially, the hallmark of the upper class. This notion both confirms and complicates the traditional ideas of passing. Whereas traditional passing concerns a singular, linear pass from “margin to mainstream”, int...

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