How To Be The Smartest Person In The Bar
  • (The following is excerpted from Whiskey Wisdom: The Art of Being Interesting


    You can spot her from a mile away, the smartest person in the bar — or, if not quite from a mile, nonetheless from very far.

    She doesn’t necessarily think of herself as smart.

    Still, her brain is carefully crafted — self-crafted and stylized — like a work of art.

    Her eyes are alert and bright and lively. They twinkle.

    She’s relaxed and polite, with a well-modulated voice that speaks to you in the appropriate tone.

    Her smile glows like expensive stone.

    You do not quickly forget that smile.

    She walks purposefully, and yet not aggressively, or with an overbearing style.

    She has a sense of humor.

    You can see that she knows there’s a kind of dignity in loneliness. She doesn’t go out of the way to seek friends or groups or any kind of crowd.

    In general she prefers quiet to loud.

    She gives and receives compliments gracefully, can be strong and assertive, quick to stick up for herself, but she can also speak of her shortcomings and accomplishments with an equal ease which you envy.

    When communication or clarification is called for, she’s never dismissive or inexplicably silent — never, of course, in any way aggressive or violent.

    What’s her trick?

    What’s the secret?

    The secret is this:

    First, develop a total disregard for where you think your abilities end.

    Aim beyond what you believe you’re capable of.

    Do things you think you’re not able to do.

    Nothing is impossible, in this regard. The will to believe is the most important ingredient in becoming what you want.

    The discipline to follow through is next. It is also the most difficult.


    Why most difficult?

    Because it requires hour-after-hour, day-after-day practice.

    It requires diligence.

    Second — unless you’re in a technical discipline like medicine or mechanical engineering — drop out of college immediately.

    College stunts the mind.

    It’s a breeding ground of mindlessness and unoriginality and an exercise in non-thought. It’s a snake-infested swamp of dogma — and, like all dogma, it will corrupt you and scar your soul irreparably.

    College is conformity.

    The cost of conformity is colossal.

    Individuality, on the other hand, is a prerequisite of genius. It requires you not be docile.

    Genius is the cultivation of your living potential.

    The deeper your cultivation, the deeper your genius.

    Cultivate, therefore, a durable purpose around which you can construct your life.

    Passion is largely willed: the more you do something, the deeper your understanding of it grows, so that after time your passion for that thing develops and spreads like a gorgeous soft surge of water-ripples.

    Whatsoever thy hand findest to do, do it with all thy might.

    Third, be observant.

    Pay attention.

    Attention is the seat of human will: the fundamental choice we face, all day, everyday, is the choice to pay attention or not.

    What, after all, does it mean to be smart?

    It means to self-stylize your brain, like a work of art.

    It means to observe the universe around you, as well as the one within: to introspect, as thoughtful people do.

    It means to be intelligent, like you.

    Intelligence is your mental capacity to deal with a wide range of thoughts and ideas.

    That’s why it never mattered to you when you were voted least likely to succeed — why it never fazed you when they called you a misfit, a malcontent, alienate, disaffiliate, deviant, recalcitrant. And it’s why your natural-born predilections and proclivities and predispositions are and always have been irrelevant: because intelligence is an acquired skill.

    It must be developed by each person’s own desire and activated by each person’s will.

    It must be habituated and automated by each person’s own mind.

    Which is why it’s quite rare and beautiful, and rather difficult to find.

    This, incidentally, is true for both children and adults: the cultivation of intelligence requires effort — or, to put the same point in a slightly different way: thinking is an act of choice.

    Thought requires work.

    Whereas to be stoopid is relatively simple: all you have to do, in essence, is do nothing. If you do nothing, stoopid will naturally occur.

    Being smart, however, requires a different sort of action.

    It’s not passive.

    On the contrary, thinking is an entirely active process the undertaking of which is, when you consider it at all, massive.

    She’s intelligent, yes, but in a highly unorthodox way (they say) hard to pinpoint why: bookish but not book-smart, introspective, certainly, and everything she does — yes, everything — she does with all her heart.

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About The Author

The sawed-off shotgun of literary pulp.

13 Responses and Counting...

  • Sabré 09.27.2016

    I love the words, but they are made less poignant, in my mind, by the photograph. If only the smart girl didn’t have such big boobs. 💁

  • Myself, I thought the picture was the best part of the article.

  • “If only the smart girl didn’t have big boobs.”

    Sabré, my dear, that could very possibly be the only time in world history those words were ever uttered.


    It’s very good to see you.

    Thank you for reading, and thank you for dropping by.

  • P.S. Sorry about the big boobs.

  • […] the next chapter: How to Be the Smartest Person in the Bar September 15th, 2016 | journalpulp | 6 Comments | Tags: bartending, most interesting […]

  • […] Like intelligence, it’s an acquired skill. […]

  • […] Being poorly informed, let it be noted, is entirely within each person’s control. […]

  • Intelligent women have big breasts just like tiny chested women. Ill admit, I do look more like a bimbo than an intellect, and that is precisely why you should shut your mouth about another womans chest to brain ratio. Any self respecting woman wouldnt stereotype another by the size of her boobs, in my opinion.

  • “Intelligent women have big breasts just like tiny chested women.”

    It’s very well said, Morgan.

    Thank you for reading and thank you for dropping by.

  • […] educate yourself. As you know, it’s never been […]

  • Interesting read Ray. Aside from laziness, I think many people avoid learning because they are afraid. Learning anything new brings back childhood memories of sitting at a school desk, bored to tears, while being lectured by a crabby teacher, lugging home huge text books, and being force-fed subjects that we despised. “Do your homework! Memorize…memorize…memorize! And don’t forget to turn in your book report on time or you’ll get NO credit!” What kid is engaged to learn in that environment? None! It’s not the way kids are programmed to learn. Our public-school institutions know this, and yet they haven’t updated the curriculums or the modes and methods of teaching since the dark ages.

    In my profession, I manage learning programs across the globe for business executives, training nearly 10,000 a year on business leadership and performance achievement culture. Companies spend billions of dollars annually to upskill their work staff with free internal training. They are on top of the learning curve with the latest digital technologies, applications, gaming simulations, interactive web-based training, and more. They do this because they know how hard it is to get someone to commit time to learning, even when its free! These methods of delivering training are aimed to engage the learner on multiple levels, all 5 senses, or what we call “accelerated learning”, because everyone has their own learning style. It’s the same with kids. For real learning to take place you must engage the student on multiple levels and appeal to their personal learning style.

    Imagine a world where kids jump out of bed excited to run to school to play games, explore new things, build projects, create, solve mysteries and puzzles. Imagine a school where there are no desks, just one continuous adventure after another. Imagine the public-school system taking a cue from the business world and engaging young students with the same accelerated learning methods? Do you think a love for learning could be fostered in this way? Imagine these same young kids growing up with a passion for learning. What a wonderful world it would be!

    Parents need to know their options and stop relying on the public-school system to teach their kids – because ultimately it’s not what you know, or how many Pythagorean theories you’ve memorized, it’s what you know you can do in this life based on your experience with learning.

  • “For real learning to take place you must engage the student on multiple levels and appeal to their personal learning style.”

    I totally agree with that.

    Thank you very much for the beautiful and thought-provoking comment, Julie.

  • Thanks Ray. PS – I think I meant to post this to your “5 Bullshit Notions” blog post instead of this one. You had some interesting things to say about keeping our minds open to constant learning. I totally agree, our growth shouldn’t stop with just the physical. Yet I see so many people who are stifled by the pejorative association with learning because of negative childhood experiences. We’ve grown up “too cool for school”!


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