Thursday, October 11, 2012

Q: Why Won't This Blogger Ever Receive The Call From The MacArthur Foundation? A: How Do You Spell B-L-O-G?!

One of the great mysteries in this blogger's life & times has been resolved. If only (saddest words ever) this blogger had resisted the siren call in 2003 from Pyra Labs, he might have received the call from the MacArthur Foundation. If this is (fair & balanced) magical thinking, so be it.

[x The Guardian]
How To Win One Of The MacArthur Foundation's "Genius Grants"
By Emma G. Keller

Tag Cloud of the following article

created at
(Click to embiggen)

Genius — right up there with billionaire — is one of only a couple of words that tells the world you're at the peak of your game. King of the hill, top of the heap. Plus, chances are, really, really brainy.

And idiosyncratic. Possibly nerdy. Definitely dedicated. Sometimes creative. Occasionally no more than a nose to the grindstone worker bee.

On Tuesday morning the John D and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced its 2012 fellows. The $500,000 spread over five years, widely known as "genius grants", are given to "individuals who show exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future". If you didn't win one this year, never mind. Here's how to improve your chances down the line.

1. Be American — or at least have a green card. The grants are only given to citizens or residents of the United States. But don't try to run the country. Although public service awards are frequently given, the MacArthurs have a thing against politicians and won't give a grant to those who hold "elective office or advanced positions in government".

2. Don't blow your own trumpet — even if you're a brilliant brass band player. The foundation won't take applications or unsolicited nominations. Instead, get to know someone in the foundation's "constantly changing pool of invited external nominators" and convince him or her of your talent. There are some clues how to go about finding these people in Who Are The Nominators? here.

3. In fact forget the trumpet altogether — be connected to a cooler instrument. This year's winners include the solo flutist Claire Chase, the mandolin player Chris Thile and stringed-instrument bow maker BenoĆ®t Rolland.

4. Be good at science. The largest group of recipients this year were in the sciences, with nine awards going to range of people from a pediatric neurosurgeon to a physicist/astronomer. Medicine was better represented than the environment. But this reflects the current focus of the country. In general if you want to do well as a scientist, go to medical school.

5. If you want to be a 'genius' journalist, don't blog. Sadly, short blasts of brilliance like this one are often overlooked in favor of the old-fashioned long-form pieces. Washington Post journalist David Finkel won his award for his "finely honed methods of immersion reporting and empathy for often-overlooked lives yield stories that transform readers' understanding of the difficult subjects he depicts." In addition, two grants went to documentarians Laura Poitras and Natalia Almada.

6. Photos are cool. I know — we're all photographers now with our cellphones and stuff. But if you want to win a MacArthur award you're going to have to push the boundary a little. The conceptual photographer Uta Barth won her award for photographing the same mundane objects in nondescript surroundings that we all do. Only she did it this way: "By manipulating curtains in her home, she created lines and curves of light that expand from a sliver to a wide ribbon across a sequence of large-scale, dramatically cropped images that evoke the subtle passage of time while also highlighting the visceral and intellectual pleasures of seeing."

7. In the arts it doesn't hurt to be famous already. Anyone heard of Junot Diaz? Anna Deavere-Smith? Twyla Tharp? Susan Sontag? Julie Taymor? I rest my case.

8. It's OK to be a blacksmith. Or a farmer. I know they didn't win this year. But they have in the past.

9. Follow your high school passion. Many recipients "work outside of conventional disciplinary categories", say the MacArthurs. Over the years awards have been given for paper-making, gospel-music, sculpting, stage-lighting, poetry — all the things students love but tend to drop as their course loads become heavier. Stick at it people.

You might not get the $500,000 but your life will be richer anyway.Ω

[Emma Gilbey Keller, a contributing writer for The Guardian, is the author of The Comeback (2008) and Lady: The Life and Times of Winnie Mandela (1994). She received a BA from King's College of London University. Keller is married to the NY Fishwrap Op-Ed columnist (and former NY Fishwrap executive editor) Bill Keller.]

Copyright © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited

Get the Google Reader at no cost from Google. Click on this link to go on a tour of the Google Reader. If you read a lot of blogs, load Reader with your regular sites, then check them all on one page. The Reader's share function lets you publicize your favorite posts.

Creative Commons License
Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves by Neil Sapper is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available here.

Copyright © 2012 Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves

No comments:

Post a Comment

☛ STOP!!! Read the following BEFORE posting a Comment!

Include your e-mail address with your comment or your comment will be deleted by default. Your e-mail address will be DELETED before the comment is posted to this blog. Comments to entries in this blog are moderated by the blogger. Violators of this rule can KMA (Kiss My A-Double-Crooked-Letter) as this blogger's late maternal grandmother would say. No e-mail address (to be verified AND then deleted by the blogger) within the comment, no posting. That is the (fair & balanced) rule for comments to this blog.