MAIN EVENT. A Good Place to Get Started --- a.k.a "Table of Contents"
Text of the Poll Mailing:
I have to credit the idea for this month's Readership Poll to the BBC World Service. Every month this year, the BBC has polled their readers on the Person (in philosophy, art, science, thought, literature) of the Millenium,and two experts in the given field.
So now, G-crew, who do you believe are the the "Top Ten" influential thinkers, writers, artists, musicians of this last thousand years?
This is a Parlor Game, of course. But I would *love* to hear who you think the people of this Millennium are who have affected your lives and thinking.
Off the top of my head, I immediately go: Voltaire, Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, William Shakespeare, Bertrand Russell, St. Francis of Assisi, Mohandas Gandhi, Sigmund Freud, Thomas Mann, Ken Kesey, Miles Davis, Theolonius Monk, Mozart, Ludwig von Beethoven, Goethe, Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, Norman Mailer, Henny Youngman, Beryl Markham, Dorothy Parker, St. Thomas Aquinas, Tiehard deJardin, William Gibson, Dante Alligheri, Kierkegaard, Spencer Tracy, Errol Flynn, Father Divine, Herman Melville, Edgar Alan Poe, Jonathan Swift, William Styron, Susan Sonntag, Madonna, Martha Graha m--- See? I can't keep it to ten!
[EDITORIAL NOTE: Responses to the Readership Poll are listed in the order in which they were received. At the conclusion of the readers' responses, you will find my commentary and my final picks. -- Rod.]
Awwww man...questions like this are damn near impossible to answer. The list will be weighted toward the post-Industrial Revolution for obvious reasons.
All yours (except Lawrence Durrell, I gotta go look him up now) plus:
Looking forward to seeing the results,
PintSize Graphics & Web Hosting, Inc.
"Contribute to others, rather than converting others." -- HH Dalai Lama
Yeah, add him too.
From RIC WILLIAMS, AUSTIN, TX, USA :
That's Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre.
And where's de Sade? Remember when we talked about Benjamin Franklin versus de Sade?
Ten, huh? That's a tall order. These are broad and generalized assessments and not in chronological order.
Francis of Assisi (saved Christianity and the invisible--good or bad?) Martin Luther and Martin Luther King, Jr. fall under his aegis
Adolph Hitler (showed us the depths of human evil) Genghis Khan, etc.
Descartes (primary author of Western rationalistic dualism)--Hume nailed the mother and Wittgenstein walked away from the grave, but Descartes is still the name for philosophers and scientists, Newton et al.
Freud (showed us the myth of rationalism was a delicate myth)--I prefer Jung, even Adler, and the gods bless James Hillman, but Freud started it in the popular mind though he stole most of his material; even Madonna and Presley fall under Freud's shadow--the whole deconstruction thing starts here and the appreciation of the Other (which encompasses my obvious lacunae regarding other cultural heroes); yes, he was strongly influenced by Goethe and the Romantics which brings us to the next two
Elizabeth I (that Woman Rules) so many strong women proving it wasn't a man's world and that an individual's personal power matters, but her name sums it up
Shakespeare (people still actually read Shakespeare as opposed to Dante) What a piece of work speech was spoken to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern--wow!
Michelangelo/da Vinci (those two--the finger of God and the smile of a woman) Picasso, Matisse, Warhol, but those two are still the ones to measure by--I know it's a fudge but I had to have one
Adam Smith (Jefferson and Marx battle it out, but for some reason Adam Smith still holds the bottom line)
Mozart (music is divine; the mystery of genius) Beethoven, Bach John Lennon (sums up the Western complex: his life encapsulates all of the above; my personal hero)
P.S. - Darwin would have to make the list as part of the Marx, Freud, Darwin holy trinity of liberal thought. Again, like Marx falling under Smith via Hegel under Descartes, he could be a subset, but Darwin is big. The interdependency of these forces becomes apparent when you play this game seriously.
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Here are my ten:
Oh dear, not an American in sight!Ý And only three from this century. Ý
The runners up who didn't quite make it were:
I am pesonally very devoted to the work of Thomas Aquinas but as it derives almost exclusively from scripture and Aristotle he doesn't quite fit into this millennium as he is derivative; on this basis I would also classify Maimonidez. Ý Ý
From JURATE MACNORUITE, Vilnius, LITHUANIA :
Those who have affected personally my life and thinking are much more than ten. I'm thinking that among those ten can be
From LARRY KEFFERSTAN, New York, NY, USA:
How can you leave out Aldus Huxley & Jerry Garcia? Then I start thinking:
The TEN-MOST of the MILLENIUM
As usual, what looks easy to start with gets more and more difficult and complicated. I have begun to assemble the TEN-MOST of the MILLENIUM.
The first four are relatively easy, in no particular order of priority:
Now it begins to become more difficult, as we must be more selective.
I suspect it would have to be Martin Luther,again for what he did, not only as a Reformer, but also as a propagandist and politician.
Ah, but Papa Joannes would probably have been happy to die Angelo Roncalli, had God not had other ideas for him. Maybe a tie?
Were we from India, we would probably chose the other. That is OK by me.
And why M. L. King, Jr.? Because he saw the problem, he told us about the problem, then he helped us all work on solving the problem. A major achievement.
So far, no political leaders, no athletes, no one from the field of medicine, or biochemistry, or psychology. One more dip into the pool.
Ten, number ten, there are beginning to be so many, too many to chose from. I need to put one more name on the end of this list, but I have large clusters of names, not a single person.
I am putting aside the likes of Karl Marx, Christopher Columbus, Jonas Salk, Thomas Jefferson.
If we have to think of sheer numbers of humans, it would have to be Chairman Mao.
But I am trying to make it my list, not a world list.
It might be Michelangelo, but that becomes too personal. But if we are going to be personal, then it will have to be Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), because he saw the entirety of enclosure, of protection from the elements, including the furnishings and the windows, the lamps and the floor surfaces, the gross shape and the smallest decorative pattern -- all of them part of the one, of the unity of architecture. No architect saw the one and the unity and learned to express the one and the unity with such beauty as well as FLW, even though he could not build a roof that did not leak.
Ah, but now my list is so unbalanced: no one from the eleventh, twelfth or thirteenth centuries. Then one each from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries. And then four from the twentieth? Oh, come on! This is terribly lopsided. Let's start over.
Ronald E. Diener
Raleigh (moving to Wendell), North Carolina
From BOB POWERS, Marietta, OH, USA:
A Contribution to the Millennium Poll
Music comforts. Music raises one's spirits. Music provides a blueprint for life. Music delights babies, thrills grade school youngsters, and promotes the release of inhibitions for teens, not that this is such a good thing. When we become adults, music is our companion on the highway, our refuge from life's disappointments. Music has the ability to boost energy, comfort us in the face of the inevitable tragedies of life.
My choices, therefore, are musicians.
In no particular order, these are the magic makers who stir my soul:
All of the above cause the same reaction: they make me cry over the sheer wonder of their talents. Only four of the above have I seen perform in person: Rosemary Clooney (more than a dozen times in the past two decades), Count Basie (I caught his masterful band live four times), Stan Kenton, a giant of a musician who led one of the best jazz groups ever created (I saw them four times and once even rode on the Kenton bus from an amusement park where they'd done a concert back to their hotel in downtown Cincinnati), and Woody Herman (I witnessed at least three incarnations of the clarinet-playing leader's famous Herds.)
Music has been used for good and for bad. When it's employed for the right motives, it becomes arguably our best avenue to make our occasional miserable lives worthwhile.
From JEFF WINBUSH, Columbus, OH, USA:
Here's a top ten for ya... Ý
7. Albert Einstein
6.ÝChief Justice Earl Warren
5. Rosa Parks
2.ÝFranklin Delano Roosevelt
1.Martin Luther King Jr.
From L.LARSON, (NO CITY PROVIDED,) USA:
1. Kennedy (made people feel something)
2. Stephen King (made people who don't read something)
3. Elvis Presley (made women want sex)
4. Winston Churchill (made the war seem dramatic)
5. Marylyn Monroe (made being dumb an asset)
6. Jesse Owens (made being a Native American important)
7. Martin Luther King (made people think about race issues)
8. Jim Henson (made little kids and adults talk to artificial pets, as precursor to AI)
9. Madonna (showed people you can do anything if you have talent and live to do again)
10. Dali Lama (made people understand Eastern Religion)
so Don't ask me why.
From FELICITY USSHER, London, UK:
This is a bit of a cop out, but I can only think of two "famous" people who would be my people of the millennium. They are Kurt Vonnegut and Jorge Luis Borges - both have made a huge difference to my life - and still do, every time I pick up their work.
The other eight would be people no-one else has heard of - chance encounters with people who have shown me a new way of living. And the thing is, as we grow wiser, those people change too, because we need to learn new lessons. They are always the last eight fascinating people we have met.
Nine times out of ten, people mean end of the century - or even end of the decade or end of the year. They're not assessing the significance of 1,000 years. But they call it "end of the millennium" to make their comment sound more significant. especially the marketeers, not that that's surprising. If we're looking at 1,000 years, I'd probably add Leonardo da Vinci, Martin Luther, Elizabeth I - still trying to choose people whose existence has affected my life.
ROD'S NOTES & PICKS: Very obviously, as I mentioned in the e-mail to the members of the G21 List, this is a parlour game. At best, reducing the last thousand years to only ten people is sophistry, at worst it is gross injustice.
But we all like playing these games. It's a way of focusing on the influences of our lives, not to mention our personal mythologies.
I found it immensely informative and fun reading most of your choices. Then, this past Saturday, when I went over these posts with my assistant, Kevin Moore, we both decided that it would great fun to put together our own "definitive" list of the Top Ten. An hour and a half of discussion and debate ensued. We even amended our list of top ten categories three times.
And, you know what? That was the point of this game.
So thank you for taking part and sharing your insights with me. (I now feel the question for the November Readership Poll will be a chore.)
Please don't feel like what follows is the Voice from Olympus. It's just a game.
My final list (categories included) --- with significant kibbitzing from my assistant:
+++ THE PREVIOUS VOX POPULI +++ THE NEW VOX POPULI +++ THE NEXT VOX POPULI +++