My Profund Skepticism of Success
Robert Pinsky: I think skepticism toward things like titles, good reviews, what the world calls distinctions, recognitions, can become mechanical, but it’s a good armor too.
Robert Pinsky is an American poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator. From 1997 – 2000, he served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. Pinsky is the author of nineteen books, most of which are collections of his own poetry. His published work also includes critically acclaimed translations, including a collection of poems by Czeslaw Milosz and Dante Alighieri.His honors include an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, both the William Carlos Williams Award and the Shelley Memorial prize from the Poetry Society of America, the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. He is currently poetry editor of the weekly Internet magazine Slate. Pinsky has taught at both Wellesley College and the University of California, Berkeley, and currently teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
From profound failure for so much of my earlier years, I defended myself against not getting ‘A’s in school and not standing out - standing out for anything, for spectacular underachievement. I hardened myself to disregard all of the attributes of success, my skepticism about the student council and the National Honor Society and getting into Harvard and getting ‘A’s. My skepticism about those things was infinite, it was just profound.
Little flakes of laurel and success have come my way. A success, like everybody else.
I think skepticism toward things like titles, good reviews, what the world calls distinctions, recognitions, can become mechanical, but it’s a good armor too. And I’m not bullshitting when I say that it’s astonishing to me that my odd ways of thinking and playing with the sounds of words has made me sort of the 47th Degree of Poobah in the world. It wasn’t to be expected and part of me is bemused by it. Though, of course, the benefits and rewards of it are not to be sneered at.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
Journaling can help you materialize your ambitions.
- Organizing your thoughts can help you plan and achieve goals that might otherwise seen unobtainable.
- The Bullet Journal method, in particular, can reduce clutter in your life by helping you visualize your future.
- One way to view your journal might be less of a narrative and more of a timeline of decisions.
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
New research links urban planning and political polarization.
- Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
- Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
- People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.