Wednesday, April 13, 2011

you and your awards

i fell backwards into this blog entry by esquire writer chris jones and i couldn't climb out. simply put, his sense of entitlement blew me away. even though he'd already won two national magazine awards -- TWO! -- he couldn't stop whining about the one he felt he deserved. at one point, i thought, well at least he's being honest. but this guy is someone who, by his own admission, hasn't had much adversity in his life or his work. basically, he's won with each of his nominations. Lord God. adversity, that's a bigger part of what some of us have ever had. the word "no" is just about all that some of us ever hear. and he's only 36.

if this guy had to be a negro for a month, he'd never make it. hardly a week would go by and he'd probably throw himself out of a window.

awards matter, i suppose. but art is a funny thing. it's rare that an artist can know the impact of their work in their own lifetime. what you do can matter a great deal while you are here. you are rich, you are famous, maybe you get loaded whenever you want. and then you're gone -- and your precious work is a mere mention in an obscure footnote in some book somewhere. just think about all those movie stars from the 1920s, for example. there were gobs of them. i'll bet you can't name ten.

do you know who pola negri is? this chick was a really big deal, back in the day. totally one of my favorites. she was valentino's last girlfriend, a massively popular actress internationally, hollywood's first foreign import (from poland!), a former ballerina, even. and she could sing. she was rich, she was gorgeous. she's definitely got a star on the hollywood walk of fame. and now? well, who knows. the 1920s is making such a big comeback these days. it's only a matter of time until some starlet makes her their template and perhaps she'll burst forth all over again. her work is waiting to be rediscovered -- the thing is that thankfully, she left something worth watching.

i love that line from the end of the movie basquiat, when the artist tells him that the audience for his work probably hasn't even been born yet. or that chuck palahniuk quote: we all die. the goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will. none of that has anything to do with awards.

a talk given by dr. richard hamming at bell labs gave a talk called you and your research and although it was primarily about science and scientists, he dropped a massive amount of wisdom about process and what it means to challenge yourself and do great work.

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