The Genius Who Finally Came Out of His Shell

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UNLIKE THE HUMAN METAPHORS profiled thus far in our Pioneers of Creativity series, Mönkhbat “Mollusk Top” Jalair’s unique appearance was neither an auspicious birthmark nor the result of some transcendent and bizarre life experience. He just plain got his head stuck in a seashell.

We can’t even pretend the incident in itself reveals a playful curiosity or deeply inquisitive nature, traits typical of creative individuals.

Mönkhbat “Mollusk Top” Jalair

Mönkhbat “Mollusk Top” Jalair

No, it’s only that this shy, shy man was so embarrassed to be seen in a swimsuit that on that fateful day he was desperate for some place to hide.

Yet his personal brand of reluctant creativity is creativity just the same, taking its most demure and introverted form, one we now celebrate in the hero of wallflowers.

Such reticence can also be mistaken for ignorance, and just as people claim that you can hear the ocean if you hold a seashell to your ear, Jalair’s colleagues would say that if you held his head to your ear, you’d hear the vacuous, echoing emptiness of outer space.

But Mönki was smarter than he looked, and except for a few clumsy moments, for instance smashing the occasional chandelier or unintentionally knocking unconscious someone who stood nearby, he was thoughtful, graceful, and unassuming. Which is why he makes such a fitting role model for those who doubt their own creativity simply because they have yet to share it with the world.

How many times have we heard tell of one who lived their life with stories, art, and ideas hidden away within the secret cellar of their own imagination, only to reveal later in life what had been there all along?

So it was with “Mollusk Top” Jalair, a man who, after retirement, transcribed into a twenty-volume set the ancient folktales of his youth, stories that had up til then only existed in the oral tradition of an obscure Mongolian dialect, and which would decades later find expression in what we now know as the Pokémon franchise.


THE “PIONEERS OF CREATIVITY” ARE PROFILED HERE TO REMIND US THAT THIS MOST HUMAN OF TRAITS COMES IN MANY PACKAGES, SOME THAT, WITH A LITTLE ENCOURAGEMENT, WE MAY YET HOPE TO SEE UNWRAPPED.