Monday, December 10, 2018
Theodore Dalrymple, "The Merits of Nepotism and Boasting
," Taki's Magazine
(December 8, 2018):
Take that ghastly soul-destroying document, the curriculum vitae. It is as inherently inflationary as clipping the coinage or fiat money. A friend of mine, whom I knew to be competent and conscientious, consistently failed to be appointed to positions for which he was eminently qualified. My wife, who knew the ways of modern appointment committees, asked to see the curriculum vitae he was supplying with his applications for the jobs.
She was horrified: He would never get a job with such a curriculum, it was far too old-fashioned. It gave merely his formal qualifications and the positions he had previously held, with references. No, no, said my wife to him, what you need is to boast. You have to make out that your piddling research might be chosen very soon for a Nobel Prize, that your occasional good deeds were as at great a personal sacrifice as those of Mother Teresa, and that you are a person whose outside interests are carried out at levels equal to the professional; in other words that you are multitalented, multivalent, and quite out of the ordinary. Moreover, your ambition must be to save the world, to be a pioneer and a path-breaker, not merely to do your best in the circumstances. You must be grandiose, not modest.
Of course, every other applicant would be similarly boastful, and so, like star architects trying to outdo each other in the outlandish nature of their buildings, my friend's boasts had to be preposterous, quite out of keeping with his admirable character. But once he had swallowed the bitter pill of realism, he was appointed at once. We all have to be Barons Munchausen now.
Thank God I have reached an age where I shall never have to apply for anything again, except perhaps for a plot in a cemetery (that too is becoming more difficult, and certainly more expensive). I don't want to boast, but I have a fixed aversion to boasting. I prefer things, for good or ill, to speak for themselves.