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RE: [mythsoc] OT: Meritocracy (was Re: We're not all wild about Harry (or, of course, owls ))

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  • dianejoy@earthlink.net
    ... From: Croft, Janet B jbcroft@ou.edu Date: Tue, 20 May 2003 14:59:50 -0500 To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Subject: RE: [mythsoc] OT: Meritocracy (was Re: We re
    Message 1 of 22 , May 21, 2003
      Original Message:
      -----------------
      From: Croft, Janet B jbcroft@...
      Date: Tue, 20 May 2003 14:59:50 -0500
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [mythsoc] OT: Meritocracy (was Re: We're not all wild about
      Harry (or, of course, owls ))


      <<That's the problem with measuring merit by tangible means like money and
      power (well, semi-tangible, at least) -- the ability that gets rewarded can
      be the abilty to bully others, rather than a more acceptable talent.>>

      Measurement by money is more complex than someone bashing you over the
      head; you, the consumer, have ultimate control of what goes out of your
      pocket, and a fine-tuned grid of merit that measures to the penny. Money
      is actually a very fine-honed indication of value: the value the product
      has for you as opposed to keeping those dollars in your wallet. Next time
      you make a purchase, watch yourself go through the complex, lightning-fast
      calculations of value as you decide whether to buy or not.

      The problem with "merit" is that everyone has a different idea of it, but
      that's also its glory, for that allows more people to succeed and the
      capacity for "niche markets." (Fantasy and SF is one of these.)

      Mere sales *can* be a marker, at least an indication that something might
      be worth paying some attention to; popularity is not necessarily something
      I *automatically* suspect. More important for me is information: the
      knowledge that something does or does not exist that I might like to buy,
      and the opinions of people I trust (like folks on this list).

      However, the market (or mass adulation) isn't the *only* indicator.
      Something has to fit into my particular "grid" before I'm interested. I
      can say right off that I'd not be a good candidate for Westerns, though
      I've seen and genuinely enjoyed a few Westerns. If I see a new fantasy,
      many factors go into play before I decide whether I'll purchase it.
      Thousands of other fantasy fans are making the same decision---for or
      against.

      I'm looking for high quality. Even among "the greats," there's a scale: I
      don't like every one of Shakespeare's plays equally, and the same can be
      said of any other author (or artist).

      I fall for mediocrity or just plain "bad" on occasion. I know it's bad, I
      call it a "guilty pleasure." I openly admit that I like *Mars Attacks,*
      and have no illusions whatsoever about any lasting artistic value it may
      have; I just think it's an outrageous hoot! I don't have the DVD, and
      probably wouldn't buy it unless I could find it on the $6.95 remainder
      table on sale. That I might prefer to save my money to get a full season of
      a show I truly admire (or an embossed edition of LOTR) indicates that on
      the larger scale of things, *Mars Attacks* is pretty low on my scale.


      << However, under my earlier example of a professor measuring his merit by
      how often his books get cited, it's a little harder to force someone to
      cite you-- though I suppose if they were a grad student or colleague you
      had some
      power over you could, though. Sigh. I still don't think the Marxists are
      right.>>

      Interesting; he's still using a numerical index to chart his success.

      Don't know who wrote this one: comments are thoughtful.

      << That's easy: merit at whatever one chooses to do or be in order to
      secure to themselves the means to prosper (however one chooses to
      define prosperity for oneself); and merit defined by the marketplace
      for the means of that prosperity. In other words, merit is defined not
      by any person, but by one's success at persuading others (through
      mutual agreement, of exchange or charity) to provide them with what
      they desire (food, shelter, money, fame, praise, etc.). But note that I
      said _persuade_; in non-meritocratic systems (and in some constructions
      of meritocracy too, of course), the mechanism of means is (inevitably?)
      not persuasion, but force.>>

      Exactly. Ads can be irritating, intrusive, and silly, but not a single one
      of them has ever put a gun to your head and forced you to buy. And with
      our technology, these days, you can fast-forward through the ads! ---djb



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