On Failure and Imagination

Without having read a single word of the Harry Potter novels, I guessed that JK Rowling must be an extraordinary person. The possessor of an imagination so remarkable that it captures the hearts of hundreds of millions cannot but be extraordinarily talented.

But I am wary of objects of popular fascination — whether they be religions, politicians, movie stars, cult leaders, popular movements, fads and fashion. I have never been one to judge anyone good merely because millions of people hold him or her in high regard. I am extremely suspicious of the “wisdom of the crowds.” Indeed, whenever I come across a highly regarded public figure, my default assumption is that all cannot be quite right with the person. I admit that I am a cynic.

So while I guessed that Rowling was extraordinarily talented, I did not have an opinion on whether she was good. I am delighted to conclude that she is a good person. The evidence? Her Harvard University commencement address. Here, for the record, are some excerpts: Continue reading