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Tuesday, February 28, 2017


I suspect the "somehow" in Lowell's ability to maintain a career at Harvard had much to do with his privileged background and the fact that he had a career at Harvard. Getting into (or being part of) the elite begets staying in the elite.

I've read Jamison's memoir, and one thing I liked about it is her acknowledgement that she's part of an elite subculture. (I wish she had gone more into that....her ability to get the type of treatment she says everybody should get depends hugely on having the resources not everybody has, a point she doesn't address. Of course, it's a memoir, not a social manifesto, so maybe my expectations are unfair.)


Now that you mention it, he had many influential friends and admirers. I think acclaimed 'artists' can also get a pass, and though his difficulties weren't mere eccentricity, there's a lot more room for irregular folks in academia versus the business world. Even if he were a member of the elite, he wouldn't have held on to a business career interrupted by 20 psychiatric hospital stays. But certainly, privilege in general makes the world effectively more forgiving of problems, whether problems with the law, irresponsibility, psychiatric problems or just plain old everyday problems of living.

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