Please, No More Award Ceremonies

Fall’s here, which means, among other things (school starting being one), that hardly a day will go by without hearing about some kind of award ceremony, even if it doesn’t take place till the end of the year. Gowns are sold for sums that I prefer not to think about, fashionistas crawl up into their deer stands flanking the red carpet to snipe at those who traverse it, critics sharpen their teeth, and everyone pics winners. The Emmys just passed–which for me is the start of the season, kinda like a harvest moon, which also just passed–so that means it’s about time E! starts their wild guesses about nominations for the Oscars, still a few months away.

In books, the Man Booker Prize has been taking headlines both with their recently announced best-novel shortlist, and because of their plans to begin nominating Americans in 2014. Some are none to happy about the latter. (The Booker Prize is (traditionally) given to a novel published somewhere in that vast span that was once the British Empire.) The National Book Foundation has also announced their shortlist for the National Book Awards and you can be sure that editors around the country are trying to spin some controversy out of something in that list, or better yet, the prize itself.

But one “prize” (which isn’t really a prize) that gets little attention but nonetheless represents something way more substantial to culture and to those that make culture than any of the prizes listed above. The MacArthur “Genius” Grants were announced this week. They award a substantial sum of money and title to those in the arts and sciences that have moved their field forward. One of the winners has revolutionized an aspect of library science in a way that can now give us a look into the past like we have never had before, and it’s pretty cool:

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