“I believe that this instinct to perpetuate useless work is, at bottom, simply fear of the mob. The mob (the thought runs) are such low animals that they would be dangerous if they had leisure; it is safer to keep them too busy to think.” George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London, p. 119
In the extraordinary memoir Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell masterly describes what it is like to be poor. He tells us how he came to be in a situation of extreme poverty; he is living in Paris teaching English and is suddenly left without students. By a series of steps, he describes how he gradually becomes penniless and hungry, and the different feelings experienced through this new reality that takes over all aspects of his life.
I think we have an ideology about talent that says that talent is a tangible, resilient, hardened, shiny thing. It will always rise to the top. To find and encourage talent, all you have to do as a society, is to make sure the right doors are open. Free campus visits, free tuition, letters to the kids with high scores… You raise your hand and say, “Over here!” And the talent will come running, but that’s not true… [i]t’s not resilient and shiny… [t]alent is really, really fragile.