My husband sent me this article from the Guardian on a Princeton U professor’s publishing his cv of failure. It was comforting, not because I think that people succeed without failing a great deal, but because it confirms something I’ve been trying to come to terms with: my own failure. Obviously when talking to people, all the various chit-chat nonsense that forms the web of human socialization, we tuck these things under the rug. Not just because it’s unacceptable, “might give someone the wrong impression,” might not help us to get ahead, etc. No, we don’t talk about failure so much for the far more practical reasons: it’s a bummer. It’s especially a bummer to be in a conversation with someone who insists on reviewing their own cv of failure. In this way failure becomes one more array of complaints: the list of failing bodily functions, the list of ways in which our parents failed us, our boss screwed us, life was unfair. It’s awful. Despite the fact that we do need to process the different negative aspects in our lives, most people don’t want to hear it, especially when whatever is bothering you is no longer immediate, but instead has become this list of Everything Wrong With (my life).
So the cv of failure, and the publishing of it, interests me because I feel that would help. As I began to try and touch on in the last post, I’ve hit this wall. Not a crisis, not even an issue, exactly, but a problem in the sense of mathematical problems, something that needs to be thought through, something that demands a solution. And for me, when there’s a question on my mind, I need to start moving towards an answer, even if the first handful (or boatful) don’t amount to anything but energy spent.
The cv, then, becomes a way of making a display of the past, putting it all out there, remembering and processing those failures that have accumulated in the back of my mind and push forward on every bad day.