Savant is a shortened term for the autistic savant or idiot savant. An autistic savant, by this definition is a person with the syndrome autism that causes children to be anti-social, and not able to understand things well, who somehow displays extraordinary skill normally present in well studied and learned people.

Autistic savants have shown many incredible abilities, including :

  • Drawing a complicated scene from memory with perfect detail (as young as age 3).
  • Figuring out large numerical calculations in seconds
  • Determining the day of the week for any date with a 20,000 year period
  • Extraordinary musical talent, such as playing a piece perfectly after hearing it once
  • and other dramatic abilities
Recent studies have proposed that everyone has savant-like capabilites, but they are usually masked by a higher layer brain function that autistic people do not have. When an autistic child draws a horse, she would merely copy a mental picture, not knowing what she drew, while a normal child would realize the basic elements of a picture (a horse has a torso, head, 4 legs) and try to recreate the animal from that.

One doctor, Allan Snyder, took normal people, and by temporarily deactivating a part of the brain using magnetic stimulation he simiulated autism and some of his patients/subjects showed savant-like capabilities during the experiment. Once the conceptualizing layer of computation in the brain is stripped away, everyone may have savant capabilities.

Savant Magazine (at www.savantmag.com ) is a weekly web magazine covering comics activism. Yes, comics activism. These people are dedicated to 'saving comics', which seems to be a popular cry among fans- especially those who used to read the Warren Ellis Forum.

Started in May of 2000, the magazine has several sections- some of which are in every magazine such as Start, Essay, Essential and Reviews, and some which are special bonuses like Retail, Doing the Work, and Extra. There used to be a Rant section, also. Most sections are self explanatory, but Essential focuses on a graphic novel (usually) that is deemed a must have, and Doing the Work focuses on tips for people wanting to create their own comics.

Savant's distribution philosophy bears mentioning. They call it 'ideological freeware'. Inspired by the open source movement, it says you can distribute it any way you want just as long as you don't charge for it or say you did it. So if I thought the Activist's Cookbook ,a pretty nifty collection of some of the best articles, describing people doing everything from cutting a variant cover comic in half right in front of a customer to setting up a booth in the street and yelling FREE COMICS!! was cool, I could just print the pdf out and put copies out wherever I could get permission to put them. I could hand them out on the street, if I liked.

Savant recently got a new editor, Dan Carroll, co editor and publisher of E- volution Comics, a web anthology. Maybe this marks another refining of Savant's vision. Over the years, Savant seems to have undergone an internal revolution, while advocating an external one. They've gone from screaming we need a revolution in the streets, to trying quieter ways to make cause a revolution deep within comics, not just on the surface. Hopefully they'll continue on their work- and we'll have this new quiet revolution.

Sa`vant" (?), n.; pl. Savants (F. ; E. ). [F., fr. savoir to know, L. sapere. See Sage, a.]

A man of learning; one versed in literature or science; a person eminent for acquirements.

 

© Webster 1913.

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