Searching for Greatness and Finding It
David Orr raised the question in Sunday's Times Book Review of what constitutes “greatness” in poetry, writing, “our largely unconscious assumptions work like a velvet rope: if a poet looks the way we think a great poet ought to, we let him or her into the club quickly—and sometimes later we wish we hadn’t.”
But why not take Orr’s analysis of, as it were, The Principles of Admission in the Poetry Game, and apply it across the board—to bankers, Presidents, Oscar nominees and their couture? It's almost axiomatic.
That nagging sensation of it’s all gone to hell and why can’t we read Robert Lowell rather than US weekly is not only how it works, it’s what we need. Obama knew this. We need Greats, and we need the idea of greatness. Robert Browning put it well: “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a Heaven for?”
So, while we might have taken Orr’s piece and thought this analysis of greatness could be applied broadly but not to our elected officials— Let’s.
As America needs her Obama, Obama needs his Lincoln. The key is in choosing wise models and in retaining models a bit out of reach. Recently, the man from Hope, Bill Clinton, reminded the campaigner of Hope, Barack Obama: we need more hope and optimism! Even as, intellectually, we see its risks, it’s a far better choice than all the options—especially in a time of crisis. Hope is the opium of the masses and we like it.
The way that you think about stress can actually transform the effect that it has on you – and others.
- Stress is contagious, and the higher up in an organization you are the more your stress will be noticed and felt by others.
- Kelly McGonigal teaches "Reset your mindset to reduce stress" for Big Think Edge.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Three scientists publish paper proving that not Venus but Mercury is the closest planet to Earth
- Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbour must be planet two of four, right?
- Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
- Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbour is... Mercury!
The blood of horseshoe crabs is harvested on a massive scale in order to retrieve a cell critical to medical research. However, recent innovations might make this practice obsolete.
- Horseshoe crabs' blue blood is so valuable that a quart of it can be sold for $15,000.
- This is because it contains a molecule that is crucial to the medical research community.
- Today, however, new innovations have resulted in a synthetic substitute that may end the practice of farming horseshoe crabs for their blood.
The distance between the American dream and reality is expressed best through literature.
- Literature expands our ability to feel empathy and inspires compassion.
- These ten novels tackle some facet of the American experience.
- The list includes a fictional retelling of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard and hiding out in inner city Newark.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.