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
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 Benoît 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
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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 sapper.blogspot.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available here.
Copyright © 2012 Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves