Ónytjungur : What literacy are you talking about? The ability to read or the transition to a written language?
Tilvera: Doesn’t the transition to writing presuppose the ability to read?
Ónytjungur : If I remember correctly, literacy used to be spread by Christian missionaries in order to make the Bible available to people in their own language. That’s how the Cyrillic alphabet was born, for example. What book is it this time?
Tilvera: It’s about everyone’s right to education.
Ónytjungur : Are images not enough for education?
Tilvera: In order to create an image, you first need intelligence
Ónytjungur : What do you call intelligence?
Tilvera: There are different kinds of intelligence.
Ónytjungur : Who says this?
Tilvera: The intellectual quotient.
Ónytjungur : Are you talking about the Rorschach ink blot test of cognitivists?
Tilvera: That’s science. It’s only possible to reach a higher intellectual quotient through literacy.
Ónytjungur : Well, since intelligence has become measurable and education requires literacy, I have a few questions that I have been thinking about for a long time for which I have yet to find the answers.
Tilvera: Go ahead, I’m listening.
Ónytjungur : Would someone unable to read be able to build a complex electronic machine?
Ónytjungur : What would an aircraft built by an illiterate person look like?
Tilvera: Like a bird costume, I suppose, but what’s sure is that nobody could fly in it.
Ónytjungur : An illiterate person would therefore also be too stupid to understand how to fuse two atomic particles?
Tilvera: The mere idea! I myself wouldn’t be able to do it, and yet I am highly educated. Only people who have an IQ higher than mine could do this.
Ónytjungur : So what was the purpose of you learning to read? To be able read that others know how to fuse two atomic nuclei together?
Tilvera: That’s one reason.
Ónytjungur : And that there are flying objects capable of taking off from one side of the planet and reach the other side in less than half an hour?
Tilvera: That would be important to know.
Ónytjungur : But for what purpose?
Tilvera: To know how long I have to get to the shelter.
Ónytjungur : What are you sheltering from?
Tilvera: The explosion of an atomic bomb.
Ónytjungur : Are you are trying to convince me that civilisation began with literacy and that humans are entitled to education so that for example they can have enough time to shelter from the explosion of a nuclear bomb that has been invented, built, stored and used by men thanks to a successful literacy programme and higher intellectual quotients?
Tilvera: I didn’t say it like that.
Ónytjungur : But 70 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that is indeed the result, right?
Tilvera: So far, the 1,200 major incidents reported, just like the computer alarms that go off each week in the United States, have always gone well.
Ónytjungur: Why does this remind me of the story of the burglar who decided to break into a new house, because his burglaries had always gone well in the past and he had never been nicked?
Tilvera: Because you’re an idiot.
Ónytjungur: Then it’s good to be able to stay stupid. Did I ever tell you that the mother of Albert Camus only had a vocabulary of 400 words?
Tilvera: And what do you deduce from that?
Ónytjungur: That it doesn’t necessarily make you more intelligent to have a vocabulary of 40,000 words, but it does make you more eloquent.
Tilvera: Are you judging Albert Camus?
Ónytjungur : What do you mean by that? If I remember correctly, we were talking about cognitive scientists, men who, thanks to a successful literacy and a high IQ, invented, built, stored and used an atomic bomb, the burglar who decided to break into a new house at night, because his burglaries had always gone well up till then and he had never been nicked, and you, who still believe after 70 years that civilisation only began with literacy and that humans have the right to education.
Tilvera: So what’s wrong with that?
Ónytjungur : That’s not my business. Because I can only speak for me. And I have already learned what I needed, decided that it’s better to remain stupid, and I prefer to be told things; by people who have earned my trust. After all there is no plural to intellect
In memory of the children killed on the 6 and 9 August 1945 in the name of civilisation, intelligence and education, those who died of the after-effects and those who still suffer today.
Translation: Jackie Dobble