Are you crystalline or fluid?

A few days ago I heard someone on television whose name I have regrettably forgotten who proposed that we acquire two new sorts of intelligence in our old age. One he called ‘crystalline’ intelligence, the other, ‘fluid intelligence’. Well . . . he wasn’t suggesting that two new developments actually take place in tbe brain, but I think I understand what he means.

Being reclining-chair-bound 24/7 and often not having the energy to do much for periods of time I think a lot about the mistakes and embarrassments of my past life but also of the experiences and skills I have picked up along the way. I have been bulking up my crystalline intelligence. At the same time I often find myself with a problem. It may be an intellectual problem or it may be a matter of a book slipping away from me onto the floor at more than an arm’s distance away.

In the past twelve months or so, it seems to me that my problem solving has become more successful. Not only that but the solutions have involved the conjunction of, often, quite disparate elements. So perhaps we have fluid agents that burrow their way this way and that into relatively huge crystalline data blocks fetching out this item and that until, finally, it is able to assemble them into the unique solution to the current problem.  I like the idea.

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