On Thursday May 3, The Leadmill will play host to Simon Evans and his 2018 UK tour: Genius. Who better to explain the show than the genius himself…
“I’m a bad tempered middle aged man but on this occasion I’m looking at, in particular, the collapse of intelligent conversation, intelligent discourse, intelligent analysis and visible intelligence in any form in public life. In particular, the failure of public figures to display any kind of intellectual rigour, and my suspicion that we are, evolutionary speaking, gliding back down into the swamp.
I am interested in intelligence and I kind of like it as a style as much as an actual quality, a discernible, statistically measurably quality. I like it as an aspiration, a dress code as much as anything else and I just see infantilisation wherever I go. I just see grown men dressed as children and I see people walking around in outfits that are humiliating to them, I would have thought.
I see the news, and in particular, the way that politicians address the public as being so obviously false and simplified and incoherent and insincere and disingenuous and I furrow my brow and see if anybody else has noticed this and I’m not sure they have.
I can’t be sure whether everybody is comfortable in this, whether British people, in particular, perhaps are ashamed or embarrassed of their sort of colonial past and all of the terrible things we did in order to achieve a sort of power and advantage in the world, and have just decided to scuttle back underneath a rock.
[Reasons as to why this intelligence deficit has occurred could be down to] a collapse in educational standards possibly, use of mass media which leads to dumbing down. I mean dumbing down is in itself a blunt instrument to describe this but there certainly is a race to the bottom because all people are interested in when they produce mass media is numbers. They just want the biggest number of people. And, of course you’re never going to leverage the greatest advertising potential by addressing the elite and letting the others run to keep up. There used to be an expectation that you would pitch your message at a relatively high level and people would aspire to be able to follow it. But now, that feels cruel, it seems quite literally to be quite harsh and hostile and undemocratic and instead everything has to be presented in the medium of dance. It’s hopeless.
I think we’ve all got a shorter attention span which I think social media is responsible for. I mean, I certainly feel that myself. I spend a lot of time on Twitter and it’s much harder to read a book after doing that all day.
I do realise that, as a man in my 50s I’m already losing a lot of it [intelligence]. So, that’s the bittersweet nature of it, that I’ve got a niggling feeling that I’ve peaked myself as well, that my memory is riddled with holes. I am really becoming quite dreadfully forgetful and I have a mounting panic that I already have more books than I’ll ever have time to read. So, it’s a sort of personal fear and terror of the deterioration of the mind. I have a real sense that it is like a muscle, in the sense that if you don’t use it, it just withers. So, I don’t think it’s a generational thing, I just think that modern life is set up to infantilise us.
I think that a lot of people suspect [a societal lack of intelligence] but it’s the kind of thing that people don’t like to talk about much because it’s a bit impolite. But that’s something that I’ve never been too bothered to be perceived to be.”
Whether you’ve noticed a significant drop in the average IQ or not, Simon Evans will make a hilarious argument as to why he thinks so.
Tickets can be bought online at The Leadmill here.