Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It annoys me.

Everyone who knows anything about me understands that I do not believe in the idea of "the best." I am confused by every award from the Academy Awards to the Pulitzer Prize. The Nobel Prize, in particular, gets on my last nerve. Maybe even more than that, the so called MacArthur Genius awards seriously bite my ass.

For every Nobel prize winner, there are dozens, hundreds, maybe even a thousand people who have contributed to the process that lead to whatever idea or breakthrough is being recognized. But when it comes around to the awards, they are given to one, maybe two people. What about everyone else who was a part of the discovery? Are they chopped liver?

On September 23, 2008, the MacArthur Foundation announced:

The MacArthur Foundation today named 25 new MacArthur Fellows for 2008. This past week, the recipients learned in a single phone call from the Foundation that they will each receive $500,000 in “no strings attached” support over the next five years. The new Fellows work across a broad spectrum of endeavors and include a neurobiologist, a saxophonist, a critical care physician, an urban farmer, an optical physicist, a sculptor, a geriatrician, a historian of medicine, and an inventor of musical instruments. All were selected for their creativity, originality, and potential to make important contributions in the future.

"In a single phone call ..." Aren't they so GROOVY over there at the MacArthur Foundation? But why didn't they select Janelle, Jane, Willow, John, Barry, Hammer, LOL, Poetikat, Rosaria, Ronda, Pam, Steven, Elizabeth, Karen, Andrea etc. etc. etc.? Why didn't they choose Merle Sneed for God's sake?

Beyond the blogging world, why didn't they choose one of my sisters or my brother? Both of my roommates are creative, original and contributing to a great future, just like my blog friends, family, and colleagues. Why not them? Why not me?

You see I suspect that all these "best" awards have far more to do with politics and who is trendy than who is actually deserving. There will be no such thing as a Nobel Prize in the Age of Aquarius. No one will be elevated above the masses as better, superior, "the best." Everyone will be responsible for making the world a better place. Everyone will be recognized for contributing.

Can't happen soon enough for me. Grrrr!!


ellen abbott said...

I always wondered why the people who have made it into the limelight get the money awards. Why don't the ones who are struggling get the helping hand? I could use $500,000 over 5 years. Newer, bigger, better studio with no worries about paying the bills. I could develop a lot with that. Sigh. My current personal growth project is to be happy for everyone regardless of my own needs and wants.

Reya Mellicker said...

Ellen, you should receive this award, with a "single phone call." What the HELL do they mean with that language?

Joanne said...

To borrow the words of a famous blogger ... "Oh yeah!"

You nailed this one, Reya.

deborah said...

I adore you

all my love,

The Bug said...

I don't really feel very optimistic about this changing anytime soon - I don't know if it's really human nature, or just conditioning, but the "good old boy" network or politics seem to infest so many aspects of our lives... Maybe I'm just cynical.

Anonymous said...

Can I get an Amen! Awards should only go to groups if the endeavor is large enough. It's all just a popularity contest from Hollywood to the halls of science.
Isn't the hard work and achievement the real reward.

That said, I think you're in the running for the Madtexter Manic Muse Award. Must consult my peeps.

Janelle said...

yeah me too. what about the no name person who looks after all the street kids this side?? yeah. xxx j

Lover of Life said...

I agree. My husband has a big problem with Nobel Prize Winners in Economics who seem to have the kind of information that wrecks havoc on economies. Always sounds good on paper but doesn't always result in the outcome desired.

P.S. Did you get my e-mail? It was having trouble, so not sure it got through. Thanks for all of you nice comments.

Reya Mellicker said...

Madtexter - Will there be a walk on the red carpet? I must shop for a dress, hire a personal assistant and a spokesperson, and line up those advertising endorsements asap!

Just kidding!

Mrsupole said...

Yes, it is all politics. Who you know and who they know and the whole system sucks, which is why our government sucks right now. There is just too much of this buddy system going around and not enough of doing what we the people want. We are left out in the cold and dirt poor, while they get awards and money and then more awards and more money. Yes it is all about who you know and any kind of politics suck. Which I think is such a sad thing to say about our world.

I really have a hard time when you see these people put up on pedestals and they are really no better than you or I. They just lucked into a different way of life and for some, the pedestal crumbles very soon and for a very few it stands there a little longer.

I think it is funny how some say that when they were a nobody, no one gave them anything free, and then when they became a somebody and could afford to pay for the things, everyone gives them everything for free. But I think that being up on the pedestal is a very lonely place and by the misery we see in most of the lives of the people on those pedestals, I think I will gladly stay off of any pedestals or red carpets.

We are the normal people and on average, we are the happier people, so this is the group I want to stay in. And that is why I avoid all those award shows like the plague. My award is the hugs and kisses my family gives me, or the smiles I get from a total stranger. And for here, it is the wonderful and kind comments that are left at my blogsite, that something I have written has touched their heart in some way. Yes, I have the best awards that are ever given. I think all of us here do.

God bless.

Steve said...

I guess it's because we didn't ask! :)

I think the expectation is that the recipient of the award will share it in some suitable way with members of their "team." But there are no guarantees that they'll do so, and admittedly it is kind of unfair.

lakeviewer said...

Reya, you hit the nail on the head with this one. Selecting just one negates the team approach to problem solving, pushes us all to be stingy with our knowledge, and rewards the wrong thing/person, the one that probably brown-nosed all the way to the top.

sciencegirl said...

No, it isn't all politics. No, it isn't just luck, or connections, or serendipity. It isn't even 'the best'. It's true that there isn't enough award money to go around to everyone (well, we could each and every one of us have a nickel).
When the Nobel committee decides that this or that finding was important enough to change the world, that doesn't mean that other discoveries didn't. Nobody is saying that. All they're saying is that this work is excellent and important, and here's some cash in appreciation.

I think it's wonderful that there's a prize out there to recognise effort and genius. I find it often pushes people to their best if there's some goal further on, something they're not likely to attain; you don't always find that extra kick in just doing research for its own sake, fascinating as it is.

I'm not saying that these high-level prizes are always awarded objectively. We can all think of somebody else just as worthy. And it's debatable how many people should be included for any particular project. But no way does that mean such things should be abolished!

No, we are not all the same.

mum said...

I'm with science girl. I say: more foundations, more prizes, more public appreciation for more people. For creative types, the money's nice of course, but the praise in itself is like a kiss on the cheek. And who doesn't need one of those?

mary said...

Ditto, ditto and ditto

like Steve - maybe we need to ask?

I want a prize for my first garden

Reya Mellicker said...

When the Nobel committee decides that this or that finding was important enough to change the world, that doesn't mean that other discoveries didn't. Nobody is saying that. All they're saying is that this work is excellent and important, and here's some cash in appreciation.

Are you sure that other discoveries aren't being discounted? And while no one says out loud that the Nobel prize winners are the best, I think it is implied or inferred. (Always get those two mixed up.)

I don't think,just because I don't like it, that these awards will be abolished in my lifetime anyway. Dang, man.

Hey Elizabeth - EVERYBODY should get a kiss on the check, not just the special select people.

Here's a kiss for everyone: xx

ArtSparker said...

I was under the impression that the people who received the McArthur Awards were not so much celebrity schmoozers as people who had toiled for many years at their disciplines. Although It grieves me deeply that my own genius has not to date been recognized, I for one am glad that other accomplished people are receiving funds to pursue ideas with no strings attached. This money was put in trust for this purpose, it seem like a pretty good use of it to me.

Hammer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hammer said...

I might still have my copy of "Uncommon Genius" laying around, a novel which contains interviews with 40 MacArthur Fellows. Trust me, most of these folks were profoundly challenged in the ways of politics and PR. It's a quick read and an interesting insight into creativity.

Although nowhere close to all the deserving folks in the world receive formal awards/fellowships/recognition, I'm glad that a handful do. The process may be flawed, but I believe that it's well-intentioned, and that's good enough for me.

Meri said...

Reya, I think it's a single phone call as opposed to a married one. Makes as much sense as singling out a few for riches when so many creative people are leaving an indelible mark on the world.

Whitney Lee said...

My problem with awarding the perceived 'best' is that everyone else is relegated to 'not as good.' Or 'not good enough' or even 'worst.' With these awards only the 'winners' feel good. Everyone else is given the subtle message, "Nice try but not good enough. Thanks for playing." It flies right in the face of the advice that one should simply do their best and that effort will be rewarded.

Reya Mellicker said...

Meri? LOL!

Whitney, I'm with you. I'm a true egalitarian. But I always loving hearing different opinions.

Hey Hammer I'm sure they're all darlings, the MacArthur fellows. Groovy, too. The best. Oh yeah.

steven said...

hey reya grrrrrowl!!! lemme see now, with a half million what would i do? well there's a half decent party in there for sure to kick off the golden fish music, art, poetry, writing, thinking, singing, dancing, acting, being, and doing foundation's first ever "year of spending money for good and not evil". in that year there will be people visiting from all over - mostly desperately poor but very clever and creative people because people who do the things on my list usually are flat broke for one reason or another - in that year we'll figure out how we're going to score another half million clams (handily dished out in one phone call) so that the lifestyle we have become accustomed to, doesn't get messed up by a sudden return to poverty! steven

Elizabeth said...

This is one of my dreams actually -to get oddles of loot just for being ME.
Then I think of all the people who need it much more than I do..........
then I think what fun it would be to spend money
then I decide who to give it to

word verification :

should I andmit what I really think?

mouse (aka kimy) said...

I enjoy seeing what others deem as 'the best' or worthy of awards...I don't think all awards are all 'politics' or based on 'who you know' -- many awards (like the macarthur foundation awards) are bestowed on people who have worked very hard in their fields ....

I understand the 'subtext' of what you write..... but, I am not made dizzy by the human tendency to shine a light on individuals who others feel exceed.

your post reminds me of jesse's 1971 poem for children

I am
I am
I may be poor,
But I am
I may be young,
But I am
I may be on welfare,
But I am
I may be small,
But I am
I may have made mistakes,
But I am
My clothes are different,
My face is different,
My hair is different,
But I am
I am black,
Brown,or white.
I speak a different language
But I must be respected,
Never rejected.
I am
God’s child!

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks Kim. I could have said what I feel better than I did - it's not about the winners. Actually I'm happy for them. It's about choosing some when the truth is that there are countless deserving recipients.

Steven I would love to be a part of your first year of string-free party spending! Oh yeah!!

Elizabeth you SHOULD be awarded oodles of dough for being who you are. You are fabulous.

Verily I go. said...

Oh ellen..squeezeyousqueezeyou. Yay, kisses for everyone, Reya says so. Wish a lot of what Reya says would fly. I'm thinking a single call was a lie, bet someone had to do a call back.

Vivian said...

good post...

Ronda Laveen said...

I always thought it baffling that Einstein did not receive his Nobel Prize for his Special Theory of Relativity. It was not until something like 17 years later that he was awarded the prize for his somewhat obscure discovery of the photoelectric effect.

I have read that it was believed to have been a snub showing the bias of his day toward Jews, pacifists and, most notably, theoretical physics.

For his part, Einstein worked his bootie off so he could get the award money to pay off the wife and kiddies he wanted to dump. What a bummer. She had to wait 17 years to get $$$ out of the brilliant, old coot.

What you are describing is not of this plane. You are describing the fifth dimension--which is where we are beginning to shift. Perhaps we can take the whole planet with us. Well, it's my plan anyway.

Reya Mellicker said...

Ronda, I'm going with you! Let's take Verily with us, please?

Chris Wolf said...

I love how you make me laugh out loud, sometimes. I will not win any awards or oodles of noodles for teaching children to love music, art and dance. Relationships are where it's at for me-and I count you among them. Let them have their trophies. I get hugs, smiles, and don't have to dust them.