Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Proceedings of the FIS 1

The Failed Intellectuals Society now has applications from Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Francis Fukuyama, Alfred R. Wallace and Friedrich Engels. Not bad in less than 24 hours. All are, of course, magnificently qualified, but only one is alive and I'm not sure ol' End of History Frank has yet attained the self-knowledge necessary to be a fully engaged member. We have the further uncertainty of how we approach people we wish to join. There may be misunderstandings. In view of Harold Pinter's desire to kick me in the balls, either we won't invite him or I'll get my noble and dignified Veep, Frank Wilson, to issue the invite. Much deep thought is required. We do this well, of course, prior to getting it all horribly wrong.


  1. I live on in the minds of my acolytes.

  2. Would you really call Harold Pinter "failed" when he won the Nobel Prize?

    I don't like his plays much, but obviously he's been judged a very successful intellectual by minds greater than ours!

  3. A writer is not necessarily an intellectual, Susan, nor vice versa. Irrespective of what one may think of his work, I think failure is part of it. Beckett said the artist is one who dare fail as no other dare fail again. And: fail again, fail better. Moi, the Supreme Failure has spoken.

  4. It's really a Sisyphean thing, isn't it? A true failure never gives up - it's in the blood. However, for some who work away for years on end, failing better each time, there comes a point at which they throw themselves in the nearest river (probably being rescued and kept alive on a life-support machine for twenty years if they are lucky)? However, that's failing at failure and really not admirable at all. Such people deserve our pity. However, is it possible that one may arrive at a point when one's ever-improving failure tips over the edge into the realms of success? I don't mean success at failure, but bona fide, sweet-smelling, succulent, success. Just wondered.

  5. Bryan, cher Bryan, there's a word for this kind of arguing: Equivocation. You can't first say you're thinking of inviting him to join the FIS and then say he's not necessarily an intellectual. If you mention you're considering him, then you *do* think he is. (I think he is, too -- listen to him go on about Iraq. You'd think he has a poli-sci degree from Oxford.)

    Now, don't get mad 'cause I'm chiding you, but I spent about six months taking apart various arguments to discover their logical fallacies. This one, in layman's terms, is called "you can't have it both ways."

    Hey, I'm all for failure. Everything useful I ever learned was learned by failing! And I expect I'm going to learn lots, lots more before I'm an old lady.

  6. Please forgive my tedious friend, Karl. If only I'd have known I'd be bound for eternity with him..And as for Eternity! Oh well. I've a strong suspicion that Beckett chap up ahead modelled me on that Vladimir fellow and Karl on Estragon. Though there's no talking to him- he's more depresed than we are.

  7. What's an intellectual?
    And what's failure?
    A writer may be someone who dares to fail, but you have to define your terms - fail at what? Success, it seems to me, is when you succeed at doing whatever you set out to do purely for its own sake.
    For example, growing vegetables. You can't on any standard say you have succeeded as a vegetable grower if what you sow doesn't grow big enough to eat and be tasty at the same time. You can then refine it and say, for example, that success can be measured in whether or not you can do it season after season and conquer pests and diseases, and so on. But otherwise what's the point?

    A writer can't be fit to be called a writer unless he writes so as to engage his putative readership and can use the language he writes in.
    So a failed intellectual (or writer) is a conceit, which appeals to me (the failure bit does anyway) but actually goes no further than a conceit.
    Am I writing rubbish?