Friday, January 14, 2011

make believe

They live in a society that prizes the development of career skills but is inarticulate when it comes to the things that matter most. ..... Nor, for all their striving, do they understand the qualities that lead to the highest achievement. Intelligence, academic performance, and prestigious schools don’t correlate well with fulfillment, or even with outstanding accomplishment. The traits that do make a difference are poorly understood, and can’t be taught in a classroom, no matter what the tuition: the ability to understand and inspire people; to read situations and discern the underlying patterns; to build trusting relationships; to recognize and correct one’s shortcomings; to imagine alternate futures. In short, these achievers have a sense that they are shallower than they need to be.

David Brooks' essay (excerpted above) is far from a triumph, what one may term the Childe Harolde portion of it in particular is close to embarrassing, but he has his finger on the pulse.

Icons passim seem to reveal a lineage. In 2008, it was his Neural Buddhists piece set me on the path to reading up on brain plasticity, via taking pleasure in the apparent efficacy of compassion meditation.

I'm starting to conclude that we human beings (as I'm led to believe Auden observed) can never become something without pretending to be it first, which means that if we pretend hard enough we can trick ourselves into genuinely being better than we suspect we are.

Michael Corleone: That's a terrific story. And we have newspaper people on the payroll, don't we, Tom? And they might like a story like that.
Tom Hagen: They might, they just might.
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