Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Recognizing me

I just came back from a History tutorial. A minor incident got me thinking. We were reading the writings of a Japanese poet who got a sponsored trip around Manchuria to observe how the place is run. In the introduction section, it was written that she was a well-known writer. My tutorial professor is not Japanese and so he is not really clued in to famous writers from Japan. So he decided to investigate by asking the asian students in class.

Prof - So this lady, is she very popular? Do you come across her works often?

Students - She is supposed to be popular. We haven't heard much about her though. This is our first encounter. But considering this reading says she met loads of important officials and was good friends with them and had warlords of China receiving her at the railway station etc, we think she was pretty popular at the time. But no, we haven't heard this name before

Student thought bubble - because we aren't Japanese literature majors!!!!

Prof - Ah... ok... I am just trying to assess the situation here to totally understand her take on imperialism. Because the background of the writer matters. So basically you wouldn't say she is Shakespeare material, right?

Students - *blank look *

Prof - I mean, she never won a nobel prize or anything so it probably wasn't too big a deal, her works I mean. Might not have been that great because she didn't win. Didn't make a difference

That's what got me thinking. It seemed like if she had indeed gotten the nobel prize, it would have made all the difference in the world as to what the standard of her poetry was.

I thought that was quite unfair.

It happens often in life, doesn't it?

-Oh, I have heard about this movie, XYZ! I wonder if its as good as they say it is!
-Oh that movie, didn't win an oscar though. Can't have been that great.

- I read these books written by this fellow. I think he is a real pervert to write such things!
- Dude! What the hell are you talking about! That book won a Pulitzer! You're weird!

Just two instances mentioned here, I know. But these are things that actually happened around me.

It sort of disturbs me that everyone is looking for something in your work beyond what you present. It needs to be recognized. And not just by anyone, only the best will do.

It is sort of scary in a way. I know that I will always work hard and try to do my very best in whichever field I go. But its not necessary my work will be recognized by the best even if it is top notch. Maybe because it didn't reach the right people. Maybe they are racially biased. Maybe the political scenario at the time was unfavourable for the work of a person from the country I am from to be recognized (like the Japanese woman). Doesn't mean you can just dismiss my work as something that "doesn't make a difference".

While it matters more that the work you do keeps you satisfied and while they say it doesn't matter if you aren't recognized, don't do it for recognition, once it a while, even the work that you do for your own pleasure (and not for recognition), it feels good to be acknowledged for the job if its done well. I guess not being acknowledged is alright with me too. Because afterall,I started off doing what I do for the love of it and not for the sake of recognition. So its alright.

But if someone dismisses my work just because I didn't win a Nobel Prize or earn millions of dollars, I sure as hell will give them a rough time!


Clueless said...

Heh, well said! I do think it's rather unfair that we judge everything in life based on how well it is acknowledged and recognized in particular circles. I guess that's why there's such a rat race in the first place - if everyone was to be appreciated for his/her work without having to be compared to everyone else, no one would be in such a great hurry to do things first!

Oh, well. I guess what matters is that you do what you want to do without looking for acknowledgement or appreciation. That's when the work you produce is genuine, that's when you get the most pleasure doing whta you do :)

Shubhada said...

As you grow up you will realise that it does not matter what people say about your work or anything you do. What matters is what you think about it or how you feel about it. You will find that very often the popular prizes do not go to geniuses. However, it is not true that just because one does not get a nobel prize or any other prize that person's work is not recognized. People in that field will definitely recognize it. e.g. if you are a scientist and do some good work, scientists in your area will recognize it and respect you for that. That is what matters not a prize! You have studied Ramchandran Plot in your protein structure course. He never got a nobel prize, though many thought he deserved one. Keep working hard and don't worry about what people think about you or your work. That is the key to success.