Lovers, Intellectual Loneliness, and an Enigma

CogZest is for and about beautiful, passionate minds. So, it’s natural for me to respond to The Imitation Game.

The film received mixed reviews. Many of those knowledgeable about Turing and the Enigma project were disappointed by the film’s lack of fidelity, particularly given how fascinating these subjects are in reality. I did not expect to see a documentary, nor something outside Hollywood’s style, so I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve used the divertissement’s themes as a cognitive springboard rather than a trampoline to which I frequently return for inspiration, let alone for factual information.

It being Valentine’s day (and given that I am nursing an R&D project dealing with romantic love), it seems appropriate to launch into the theme of intellectual loneliness, companionship and romantic love, to which The Imitation Game alluded.

Passionate intellectuals, like other mortals, need to decide who to date, whether to marry, and who to marry. Like everyone else looking for a mate, one of the major considerations is how smart the partner must be. And do we need to be romantically and passionately attracted to her or him? We also face particular challenges, such as what our partner’s role should be with respect to our intellectual projects, and our role with respect to to theirs. I raise related questions below.

Wikipedia provides material a useful launchpad:

[Joan] Clarke and fellow code-breaker Alan Turing became very good friends at Bletchley Park. Turing would arrange their shifts so they could be working together, and they also spent a lot of their free time together. In the spring of 1941, Turing proposed marriage to Clarke and subsequently introduced her to his family. After admitting his homosexuality to his fiancée, who was reportedly “unfazed” by the revelation, Turing decided that he could not go through with the marriage and broke up with Clarke in the summer of 1941.[10][11]

Despite their relationship changes, Clarke and Turning had been close friends since shortly after they first met, and this continued on for years and years until Turing’s death. The two shared many mutual hobbies while also having similar personalities.

Correctly or not, the film suggests that these two people were intellectually lonely. (Turing, however, was surrounded by and had access to brilliant minds, usually including equals, all his adult life.) They contemplated a relationship based on intellectual companionship. Given that Turing was gay and Clarke knew this, we have material here to ponder dilemmas intellectuals face. “If I should happen to find someone smart who is genuinely interested in my projects, can understand them (and me), and can contribute to them, is that enough to marry her/him?” Well, many of us are saved this dilemma, because it’s very hard to find such a person. So we are usually faced with a different question: “What is the lower limit of intellectual compatibility that I am willing to accept in a mate?” Alas, one’s intellectual capacity does not guarantee success in selecting a mate and nurturing a relationship! How many brilliant people do you know who have made disastrous, or simply poor, relationship choices? And if one chooses a partner who is not intellectually compatible with oneself, then what will happen when one’s path crosses an intellectual and romantic match?! And what does it mean to be an intellectual match, anyway? Those are questions one needs to answer.

Helen Fisher’s Take on Selecting a Mate

There are, needless to say, many factors to consider, and possible algorithms to use, in deciding whether and who to marry. In Simple Heuristics that Make us Smart, Gerd Gigerenzer and Peter Todd relate Charles Darwin’s use of a simple pro-con list in deciding whether/who to marry. On the con side was ” perhaps my wife won’t like London. Then the sentence is banishment and degradation with indolent idle fool”. They go on to advocate in that book simple, decision making metrics that are not based on expected utility, an important topic that I won’t get into in this post. (But see ch. 6 of my ph.d. thesis for a similar position, and Baron’s text, Thinking and Deciding, for a different perspective.) Helen Fisher addresses the question Why Him, Why Him? Why Her? Finding Real Love by Understanding Your Personality in her popular (not scholarly) book on this subject.

Fisher distinguishes four personality “styles”, while claiming that individuals don’t merely embody one style. They receive a score on each style. For each individual, the test yields a weighted rank ordering of styles. (Personality research is not my area expertise. I don’t think Fisher had published scholarly articles in psychometrics or personality research before this.) The goal of her system is to determine who makes a good match for who. The goal of matching is not to find a mirror image of oneself, but someone with whom one is compatible. Some combinations of styles (apparently) call for similarity in the other partner; others benefit more from differences. In other words, “opposites attract” and “Qui se ressemblent se rassemblent” are simplistic. (I would think in general, however, one is never seeking a mirror image. Complementariness and similarity are complexly related in compatibility)

Here is how the styles are described. (Beware! Positive terminology is used but no individual is best described only in positive terms.) I’ve read the book, but I’m going to be lazy and quote from: here to describe Fisher’s four personality traits. I’m presenting them in descending order of the score I got. (I’m not sure the test-retest reliability is high, meaning one might score differently on another occasion. )

  • Negotiator. Imaginative, verbal, intuitive, idealistic, agreeable and introspective. The top word used by Negotiators in their profiles is passion. (178,000 profiles sample)
  • Director. Analytical, decisive, focused, inventive, competitive, independent and strategic-minded.
  • Explorer. Curious, creative, adventurous, sexual, impulsive and self-reliant.
  • Builder. calm, persistent, loyal, traditional, cooperative, social and managerial.

If one can get beyond the problems with this personality test (e.g., an analytical person would want to separate the dimensions further), what’s interesting here for intellectuals is that each style except for builder has intellectual features. It seems plausible that if you are quite intellectual and want to have interesting conversations with whoever you choose to be your spouse, marrying a builder is a bad idea. However, there are many other personality features, not covered by Fisher’s test, that can spoil the potential for good conversation, such as narcissism and dishonesty.

Two Aims of Science, and Kinds of Thinking (Crude Divisions)

There are broadly speaking two sets of aims of science:

  1. discovering the content,
  2. understanding the form of the world,

With the former, one is concerned with referent-centred knowledge. One seeks to characterize particulars–what is, or has been, in the world. This is what botany, geography, astronomy, anthropology, geology, and history are largely about. This leads to referent-centered knowledge. knowledge about particular, concrete things.

With the latter, one is concerned with more abstract, more universal questions, to explain known possibilities, to posit and explain impossibilities, to develop forms of representations (taxonomies, languages, etc.) to represent possibilities, etc.

There is a parallel distinction between referent-centred concepts and problem-centered concepts. The sun, the moon, Saturn, planets, plant are referent centred concepts. You can instantiate them. You can point to them. Problem-centered concepts are devised to explain the world. Gravity is an example. You can’t point to gravity. The concept was created to explain particular observations.

This is a distinction I’ve found helpful in understanding conversation patterns. Most people, if they have intellectual curiosity to speak of, are interested in referent-centred knowledge. I have friends who like to talk about cars and motorcycles. They are very good at classifying and describe them. Some can even build and fix them. I’ve known many people in this beautiful province, British Columbia, who love to talk about its landscapes, history, cities, important people, etc. I know many birders and botanists.

Referent-centred knowledge is perfectly valid and important. However, I personally do not have much interest in it, except to the extent that illuminates my understanding of the world, i.e., to help me understand how things (might) work generally. I don’t need a lot of concrete data to set off my imagination. Seeing too much data just confuses me. (I think it will confuse our computers too, and so I think that there are big limits on Big Data –and we need to watch out for Big Hype. This is related to the problem of induction. And it is a reason why I prefer the work of Frederic Bartlett to that of Hermann Ebbinghaus.)

This distinction is not the same as intelligence, intellectual curiosity or need for cognition.

An intellectual needs both types of knowledge, but each to different degrees. Darwin exploited the work of many researchers who were content to focus on the content of the world. Interestingly, Darwin himself collected a lot of this information first hand. So, he is a great example of someone who used referent-centred knowledge to construct problem-centered knowledge: to understand the form of the world. Einstein didn’t run experiments. I don’t think he even bothered to show up to the first critical test of his theory of relativity!

These distinctions may be helpful in understanding yourself and to understand your (potential) mate. We differ not merely in the particular domains that interest us (e.g., biology), but the kinds of epistemic knowledge, concepts, and questions that one likes to pursue in those domains (e.g., observing and classifying vs. understanding universals). I.e., the distinction I am talking about shows up across domains of inquiry and conversation. If your mate is ill-disposed towards or hardly capable of dealing with the types of questions and knowledge that interest you, it will definitely limit your conversations. Still, I’m sure a couple can be strengthened by each member’s strength complementing the other’s weakness.

To Search for a Meta-effective Mate?

In Cognitive Productivity, I developed the concept of meta-effectiveness, which I also define below. The question arises how judgments of one’s potential partner’s meta-effectiveness should be factored into mate selection?

Intellectual Obsession and Tenacity (Particular Thinking Dispositions)

To excel in any domain, one needs to be obsessed. Tiger Woods does not just like golf. He’s obsessed with excelling. I remember having lunch at the cafeteria of Newbridge Networks Corporation when I worked for Newbridge Microsystems (before it became Tundra Semiconductor). I had recently left the Royal Military College, where I was Ast Prof of Military Psychology and Leadership. I was a fish out of water. So, there I was, enjoying a rare conversation about psychology, with Jim Roche. Jim, who has a well-rounded intellect, was then VP General Manager. During this ephemeral oasis of an interchange, Dr. Adam Chowaniec (president) sat down beside us and immediately changed the subject to company issues. My thoughts were: (1) This behaviour is very rude. Emotionally intelligent children don’t butt into conversations, they ease their way in, and emotionally intelligent adults do the same. (2) This person is obsessed with the Company. I later got to know Adam, and found he was in fact emotionally intelligent. Obsession with a project/startup is required for its success. Thanks to such focus, Tundra posted 18th consecutive quarters of revenue growth and reached a market cap of over $1B in late 2000 or early 2001.

(2015-02-17 update: I found out today that Adam died the day before I wrote this post. The ITAC wrote “He held a fierce belief that Canada could and should effectively transition from a resource based economy to a knowledge based economy and lead globally. He was tireless in his pursuit of this vision.” )

Knowledge workers, working on difficult problems, need to be productively obsessive. That’s how one learns, builds new knowledge, solves tough problems, and builds successful products. This is clear in books on creativity. (See for example Boden’s The Creative Mind.) Crystalized experts are stagnant. They are content with the low-lying fruit. They pigeon-hole problems into their existing schemata but do not seek to acquire or create new schemata. They’ve ceased to learn. In contrast, fluid experts tackle problems that increase their expertise. They look at old problems in new ways. They seek new solutions to old problems. They tackle new, more challenging problems. That is to say, fluid experts engage in “progressive problem solving”. Authentic expertise, then, does not merely consist of one’s domain skills and knowledge, but involves the ability and the tendency (beyond inclination) to continue to learn. In Cognitive Productivity, I call this combination “meta-effectiveness”.

So intellectual tenacity is a big issue that one needs to deal with in a relationship. The expert wants, and sometimes needs, to keep talking about problems and issues in his domain. But his or her partner can only take so much. A couple needs informal rules: Is work to be discussed at home? When? To what extent? They need gentle ways of signalling that the conversation is lopsided, enough has been said about a certain topic, and so forth. The intellectual needs to be able to put on the brakes on himself before his or her partner. Also, the tenacious partner needs to ensure that he or she is not just going around in circles, rehashing the same thing, or not really making progress. It’s important to be clear with oneself and the other about wherein lies the novelty in the problem one is discussing, what progress has been made, what’s new about one’s way of thinking about the issues.

There’s also the flip side of this to contend with. How to cope with conversations in which people are superficially dealing with deep issues, butterfly mind’s wings are flapping, and trivia or gossip is being hashed. One, of course, needs to tolerate a certain amount of mindless chat and dilettantism. One needs to be able to flit from one topic to another, and so forth. My partner accepts that on occasion I must take leave of the company, perhaps to go for a walk, to read, simply go back to work, or have a regenerative nap. Or to skip a boring event. And I accept the same from her with what she finds boring.

Thinking Dispositions (Generally)

I’ve been talking about “intellectuals”, expertise, thinking dispositions and related concepts (e.g., Fisher’s personality “styles” and skepticism) without defining these terms. This is just a blog post after all!

I’ll be lazy 🙂 and quote from Cognitive Productivity:

Who would not want to possess the beneficial thinking dispositions studied by cognitive psychologists? To be a clear, broad, deep, sound, curious, systematic, rigorous, aware and balanced thinker? To be someone who is open-minded, has a high need for cognition, considers various points of view, engages in counterfactual thinking at just the right time and anticipates potential consequences before making a decision? To tend to detect flaws in one’s knowledge or understanding and generate an appropriate motivator? To be able to make calibrated judgments and decisions within reasonable time constraints. We ought to all want these dispositions. For we would tend to make better decisions and have better outcomes with than without them. Beneficial thinking dispositions enable us to help our selves,  families, employers and society.

These thinking dispositions make us better mates to our partners. And when looking for a partner we should consider these attributes. For, as Keith Stanovich argued compellingly in What intelligence tests miss: The psychology of rational thought., fluid intelligence (measured by IQ tests) is only part of what one needs to be rational (and hence effective) in the long run. If one doesn’t have the thinking dispositions to use one’s fluid intelligence, one will needlessly run into trouble.

In other words “cognitive miserliness” (or, unproductive cognitive laziness, for there is such a thing as productive mental economy), is a recipe for unhappiness. Of course, we are talking statistically here, meaning these are stochastic phenomena, a general tendency with ample variability, understood in terms of a population. Many cognitive misers live reasonably content lives. A cognitive miser might land a good paying union job. Conversely, a very smart person might end up miserable through adversity. (If) Turing committed suicide, he would be an example of the latter; but regardless, there are plenty of examples of each.

Another reason why thinking dispositions matter, that is not often mooted, has to do with brain aging (or “cognitive aging”). Fluid intelligence declines, or at least tends to decline, as we age. However, according to Mark McDaniel, Larry Jacoby, and Gilles Einstein, the glass is half-full, in that there are “frontal” people who age more gracefully. There are no easy tests for this. However, the main compensating factor for cognitive aging is meta-effectiveness (mentioned above). That is a combination of effectance (inclination to develop competence) and fluid expertise (abilities to develop competence). These I think can be detected in mate selection. And, fortunately, they can also be enhanced (which is the purpose of my Cognitive Productivity book.)

So, when evaluating a mate, one needs to consider not only their raw IQ but these other factors.

Rationalists vs. Mystics (Thinking Dispositions, Thinking Tools and Beliefs)

Implicit in the previous section is is whether a rationalist can be sufficiently happy with a mystic. There are some very smart mystics. I.e., fluid intelligence does not guarantee rationality. For example, there are many IQ smart people who are taken by “alternative medicine” (i.e., quackery), or who believe vaccines are more dangerous than failing to take them, who doubt global warming. And some mystics are not cognitive misers, i.e., they exert a lot of cognitive effort. More generally, profound mysticism can be due to:

  • cognitive miserliness,
  • low fluid intelligence,
  • not having been exposed to tools of rational thinking (empirical research methods, conceptual analysis, engineering; logic, statistics, and other parts of mathematics), or
  • other forms of enculturation.

Calling oneself a mystic or a rationalist is an over-simplification. People who are mystical in one domain (e.g., medicine) can be extremely rational in another (e.g., finance). We’re not dealing with an all-or-none matter, nor are we dealing with a continuum. We’re dealing with a set of attributes on the surface, and complex, ill-understood mechanisms underneath. Still, there are real, discernible patterns (due to the foregoing bullet points).

And there is hope. Many people who were “infected” by mystical memes have come to realize that they were mistaken, and have turned to science. For instance, Dr. Ginger Campbell from Brain Science Podcast admits to previously having mystical beliefs. Many times in my life, I have had to ditch beliefs (and motivators) on the grounds of skepticism.

And I suppose most of us can take comfort in some mystical beliefs–they’re not all harmful. Mystic-like mentation, within the safe bounds of rationality, can safely be pleasant and even erotic.

Still, if one is on balance a rationalist, can one be happy with someone who is in contrast rather mystical? Or vice versa? And how can one achieve this happiness?

Clearly, if a rationalist and mystic marry, they will need to agree on communication and decision-making principles. What if one of the members, or their child, develops a serious illness that is more likely to be treated with medicine than non-medicine? Is the rationalist supposed to keep his/her peace? I wonder if type of compatibility has been researched.

A Mentor, Teacher, Coach and Lover?

To understand whether or how one’s lover can be a source of meta-effectiveness it may be helpful to reflect upon ways in which the very best mentors, teachers and coaches accomplish this. Consider the best, well-documented exemplars, i.e., Coach John Wooden and Anne Sullivan. I don’t know about the personal lives of these two Great Ones, except that Wooden worshiped his wife. I assume that he gently educed the best from her. Now there is an ideal for matrimony worth thinking (and, if it is not too late, fantasizing) about! However, in this post, I won’t further pursue the challenging question I posed.

Humor and Sex

Two of the most pleasant ways in which intellectual compatibility is manifest are humor and sex.

Hurley, Dennett and Adams did a magnificent job of defining and explaining humor and mirth (Inside Jokes). They related them to intelligence. They touched upon but failed to name an important related concept which more generally is thinking dispositions and cognitive miserliness (discussed above). Basically, in order to experience or produce mirth, they argued, one must tend to think things through. Mirth is “The pleasure in unearthing a particular variety of mistake in active belief structures.” An IQ smart person might not be very funny because they don’t engage their “algorithmic mind” (as Keith Stanovich calls it) to draw the inference that reveals the mistake they’ve made. Or they might have in the past failed to accumulate the knowledge required to get the joke.

This is another way in which the Imitation Game was a very weak film. Turing had a very good sense of humor, as one would expect from someone as intellectually accomplished as him.

It is not difficult to grasp how open-mindedness, imagination, and a host of other thinking skills and dispositions can contribute to a good sexual partnership.


It would be an interesting historical project to make an inventory and analysis of how brilliant minds have been helped or hindered by their spouses. Unfortunately, there are mainly accounts of brilliant men. Women are mostly documented as as wives and lovers –witness collections of love letters. The romance of Marie and Pierre Curie is a radiant exception. To narrow the list of studies, one can focus on people one has already studied.

Winston Churchill’s relationship with Clementine was dubbed one of the “great romances” of the 20th century (whatever that means). That’s well illustrated is a scene in the Gathering Storm (2002 film) where Churchill gets news that Clementine has returned from her long trip, and he runs through the pond to greet her, yelling “She’s here! She’s here!” (I know the feeling, as my GF likes to takes long trips abroad.) Clementine certainly contribute to Winston Churchill’s intellectual life. His relationship with his lifelong friend Violet Asquith (later named Violet Bonham Carter) intrigues. Her book Winston Churchill As I Knew Him is on my reading list.

Here is what Violet wrote to her friend when she found out that Churchill was engaged to Clementine:

The news of the clinching of Winston’s engagement to the Hozier has just reached me from him, I must say I am gladder for her sake than I am sorry for his. His wife could never be more to him than an ornamental sideboard as I have often said & she is unexacting enough not to mind not being more. Whether he will ultimately mind her being as stupid as an owl, I don’t know -it is a danger no doubt – but for the moment she will have rest at least from making her own clothes & I think he must be a little in love. Father thinks it spells disaster for them both. I don’t know that it does that. He did not wish for – though he needs it badly – a critical, reformatory wife who would stop up the lacunas in his taste etc. & hold him back from blunders. […]I have wired begging them both to come here on the 17th – won’t it be amusing if they do? Father is a little chilly about it -[M] has an odd theory that Clementine is mad which she clings to with tenacity in spite of my assurances that she is sane to the point of dreariness

I assume she eventually revised her jealous opinion of the match.

One might conclude that intellectual companionship in a relationship is not important because one has colleagues and friends — to each his own to decide. But colleagues and friends come and go more frequently than spouses. One eventually retires. Even Churchill felt lonely in his later years (Jenkins’s Churchill, p. 901)

There’s a book to be written on the subject of historical intellectual companionship. Maybe there have been.

Some Personal Reflections and a Decision

As a nod to Alan Turing, Edward Elgar (Enigma Variations) and Escher (recursion), I designed an enigma (which used a home-made encryption algorithm) for this section. However, I’ve decided it is not to be fully included in this post. Sorry readers. But there are still enigmatic components. Some of them are alluded to in Cognitive Productivity and in Meta-painting & Science of the Human Mind. And I’m waiting on a response to make a related edit.

I have some reflections about the development of my own feelings of intellectual loneliness and how that affected my choices of partners over the years. I’ve actually written this out in my own local files. An exercise in journaling. It is an issue that, of course, one can only allude to in a general, abstract form (unless the partners in question consent to publishing such information).

Only one, possibly two, of the women I’ve known well enough (and remember) seem to me to be (or have been) particularly compatible with me. But it’s very difficult to assess the paths not taken.

I’ve been thinking about these issues over the last couple of years. I’ve come to better understand the various ways in which my G.F. and I differ, are alike, and are compatible. In between sessions of writing this post, I was moved to act on the subject. So I texted her (for she’s out of the country accumulating referential knowledge, i.e., birding with some friends) to propose marriage, and she’s accepted! I know that we’ll see eye-to-eye because she is my height. Still, given I’m committed (for good this time), I’ve begun reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s delightful (!) book, Committed.

Of the many people you’ve known, how many do you feel would have been or are a fine intellectual/life match for you, and you for them? What made the matches intellectual promising or unpromising? Productive or counter-productive?

This month, I read Alain de Botton’s 1993 Essays in Love that is germane to this section.

Aside. How on earth did he gain so many insights on love by the age of 23? (Or 21-22, considering the time it takes to write and publish a book?) Some of his thoughts are bookish. But too many of them seem to require a distance from personal experience. “My mistake was to confuse a destiny to love and a destiny to love a given person.” I couldn’t stop laughing out loud, alone in bed, at some of his deliberately funny passages. I’m not saying I agree with all of the fictional autobiographer’s reflections about love. On the contrary. For instance, he explicitly embraces utilitarianism and implicitly hedonism. He accepts unacceptable forms of communication (arguments) and behavior (throwing objects, sulking, playing mind games). And there’s much more to take issue with. However, some of this could be put down to the book being a work of fiction, a launchpad for reflection on counter-productive attitudes and behavior. Or it being juvenilia. But as juvenilia it is at least comparable to Winston S. Churchill’s novel.

So what makes it germane? Well, here’s an intellectual author, portraying a fictional intellectual biographer’s train wreck of a relationship with a woman from the fashion industry, and the book ends with little insight about their incompatibility or mature principles for making relationships work. We are left to do the work ourselves. And that may be a just as well. I found the novel delightful.

I will note on the basis of past experience (a.k.a. hell) — in which (out of a “rational” analysis) I deliberately selected a partner for whom I did not feel romantic attraction and with whom I wound up having an awful relationship — that believing that one has found intellectual compatibility and having truly found it are two entirely different matters. I.e., judging intellectual compatibility is not as easy as it may seem. I eventually concluded that I might as well seek both in the future. Hence the following point.

Romantic Attraction

The issue of mate selection based on romantic attraction is one that each intellectual needs to resolve, explicitly or at least implicitly. I’ve mentioned it several times in this post.

A few years ago, my new fiancée and I had a couple of friends over dinner. We were discussing what makes relationships work. One of them said that, for her, there had to be strong romantic attraction for a relationship to work. Quite a common position. Still, I expressed strong caution against that criterion, because such feelings can come and go. They aren’t completely in one’s control. And one doesn’t want to be a slave to lability, lest our lives become a torturous wreck. So, while I had and have strong sentiments of attraction towards my fiancée, I didn’t want to depend on these feelings, lest they fade.

I’ve come to articulate a more nuanced view than I expressed that evening. There is a distinction between lust, attraction and attachment (not to mention a host of other dispositions). I acknowledge one needs to be aware of the power of lust and romantic attraction in order to remain (happy) with one’s partner. This also facilitates fidelity. I can now better understand my friend, for I know I need to be with a woman towards whom I feel strong attraction and lust, not just attachment, and towards whom I have a commitment.

The other thing to note is that when one selects the right partner, when circumstances are favourable to the couple, and when one applies productive relationship principles, lust, attraction and attachment can persist.

John Gottman has a principle called “Nurture your Fondness and Admiration” that is central to this. But I think, more generally, one needs to nurture the entire relationship, using the types of principles Gottman proposes, in order to keep those forces alive within ourselves and directed at one’s partner.

So, Turing had an intellectual companion in [Joan] Clarke. But he was wise enough to know that she couldn’t meet enough of his emotional needs. It’s a shame that society could not allow him to have an open, healthy relationship with a person with whom he was fully compatible.

What’s the Point?

The point of this post was not to argue that one type of mind is better than the other. I’ve simply explored issues that intellectuals face that are not often talked about, and that are very significant: Intellectual loneliness and the selection of a mate based on one’s intellectual needs. Fisher thinks she has an answer to mate selection that considers intellectual attributes. I don’t know if she’s right. I’m just saying it’s something one ought to think about, for better self knowledge, selection of a mate, understanding of that mate, and health of one’s intimate relationship(s).

It’s always important to note in these discussions that not having a partner for many is a valid option. Darwin considered it. It allowed Thomas Babington MacAulay and many others to be very productive.

Also distance (to some of us) is important. If one is married, spending periods away from one’s spouse may be a good way to get more done and keep the flame alive. Winston Churchill’s spouse understood that his political life would dominate his attention. My own fiancée understands and accepts that my professional life is almost all encompassing.


2015-02-21 Added a paragraph on coaching

Published by

Luc P. Beaudoin

Head of CogZest. Author of Cognitive Productivity books. Co-founder of CogSci Apps Corp. Adjunct Professor of Education, Simon Fraser University. Why, Where, and What I Write. See About Me for more information.

4 thoughts on “Lovers, Intellectual Loneliness, and an Enigma”

  1. PS, 3 months after writing this article, I married the woman I described proposing to above, my closest intellectual companion.

    Several years later, I continue to value her intellectual company, and the company of many other intellectuals.

    Here’s an article related to mine:”Crossing Divides: The friends who are good for your brain”:

    Using our Hook productivity app, I linked these two articles together. The Hook app is available here

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