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September 30, 2011



"Losers" is a pertinent term. I recall two friends of mine, at Oxford, and one of them telling the other in the course of an argument that he was a "loser". (You're invited to guess the subsequent careers chosen by the two.) I think it's a lousy thing to say, but I also think that it's very much what's wrong with the cult of success: it's about doing something - and then using it as a stick to beat other people. Which to my mind ruins it, renders it petty, makes me question whether it was worth doing in the first place.


That kind of 'success' is kind of defined in opposition to other people's failures. To be fair, some people do grow out of it.

Something else that is wrong with it is the ideology embedded in it. Not only must you be advance in your career (you can't just be good at your job; you have to be at the top of your profession), but you have to be in the right career. Everyone knows teachers and social workers can't be successful; those are careers for failures.

Barry Freed

...which was selected as an "Editor's Choice" book by Atlantic Monthly, and was awarded the 34th Annual Thomas J. Wilson Prize, for the best "first book" accepted by Harvard University Press. He was recently named as one of America's Top Young Historians by the History News Network.[2]

And it was blurbed by Arthur Miller to boot. Wikipedia goes on to say about the author:

He has been a consultant to the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives, the National Park Service, an off-Broadway play, and film and radio documentaries. He is on the board of directors for the Abraham Lincoln Institute and he's an expert on the Lincoln Memorial.[3]

His commentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Industry Standard, Fast Company magazine, and other periodicals. He contributed an essay on "loserdom" to the 2004 Whitney Biennial exhibition catalog.[3]

And he's only a year older than I am. I think I'll go have a lie down now.


Come on Barry, how much can there really be to know about the Lincoln Memorial? With 12 months still to play with, you could theoretically do so much better.

And simply knowing that theoretically absolves you from actually having to do anything about it.

Barry Freed

Thanks Strategist, I feel better now.

PS I like the way you think.

john b

a consultant to the Smithsonian Institution

He's like the guys and girls on Bones? Jesus. I'm jealous, even.

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