[PW] Saying: A disordered desk was a sign of genius. (Request help accessing 1947 and 1950 "Typo Graphic")

Donna Halper dlh at donnahalper.com
Sun Sep 24 09:27:30 PDT 2017

On 9/24/2017 8:45 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:
> "The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs" (DMP) compiled by Charles Clay
> Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, and Fred R. Shapiro has an entry for the
> following saying:  [Begin excerpt]
> A messy (cluttered) desk is a sign of intelligence (brilliance,
> genius, creativity, productivity, a busy person, etc.).
> [End excerpt]

While I can't be very helpful on this quote, I'm mildly amused by all of 
the other quotes that attribute various things to being signs of genius. 
I found a number of quotes from the mid-1800s to early 1900s saying bad 
handwriting (or bad penmanship) is a sign of genius; absent-mindedness 
is supposed to be a sign of genius too, and so is a love of philosophy. 
And I did see a variation on Garson's quote which asserted that a 
cluttered desk is "the mark of a genius," rather than a sign of it.  On 
the other hand, in March 1960, columnist (and humorist) Hal Boyle said 
"Show me a man who keeps a cluttered desk and I will show you one of 
nature's noblemen-- one who takes joy in his work, is gentle with his 
children, raises not his voice against his wife, and never, never, never 
kicks his dog around."

Donna L. Halper, PhD (who has bad handwriting but is not a genius)
Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies
Lesley University, Cambridge MA

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