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Monday, April 22, 2019

Mediocrity (vi)

What rankles is not the existence of mediocrity; by pure statistics, certain things will be in the middle range of quality. That is just the shape of the curve. What rankles is the holding up of the mediocre as some kind of model, and the social pressure that's involved in that. There was a guy in my department who was supposed to be great, etc... I guess that was the social fiction that we were all supposed to hold up. It was churlish of me to think he wasn't, since he somehow held a social status as being excellent, even though a view from outside that consensus might come to another position.

So the problem is not Billy Collins, but that idea of holding up Billy Collins as something special and exceptional.  He's just not. When you point that out, people will say you hate him because he is too "popular.' Well, yes. that is why. If he weren't popular I would never have heard of him so I couldn't hate him.  It is the lack of proportion between the merits and the reputation.  That is what rankles.

1 comment:

Leslie B. said...

But don't most people take mediocrity for brilliance? I mean: it took me a long time to realize this, and I was long used to being around smart people and expecting everyone to be like that, but it seems that in reality brilliance isn't considered that. Sometimes I get into really smart environments and my anxiety and boredom disappear.