Category Archives: success

All or nothing

Dalrymple writes:

Every way of earning a living that is of service to others is honourable.

We have been infected, he says,

with the idea that only the highest achievement—either in academic status, monetary reward, or public fame—is worthy of respect, and all else counts as failure. From that premise it follows that there is no point in making a vast effort only to be a quiet, respectable, useful, God-fearing failure.

He points out that

it is the absence of this impatient, immature, all-or-nothing attitude to ambition that accounts for the success of Asian immigrants.

How good fortune tests character

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 08.49.24Dalrymple writes that he admires people

who struggle through adversity to some considerable achievement; but I also admire those who, born to great good fortune, also achieve something of their own, because such good fortune can so easily have as enervating an effect upon effort as constant ill-fortune.

How to join the 1%

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 12.33.35Theodore Dalrymple answers your questions

Should we wish to be of the 1%?

Wealth as such is not a very elevated aim in life.

What about you, Doctor?

I have never made it my principal aim or goal.

To have a sufficiency, though, is both necessary and gratifying, is it not?

A degree of prosperity is at least some evidence of worldly success — an imprimatur as it were, to which I have never been quite as indifferent as perhaps I ought to have been.

Do you feel wealthy?

Not enough to feel that a new car would not be an unwise extravagance if it were unnecessary.

What do you look for when buying a car?

My main desideratum is that it should start first time in the depths of winter. For many years I owned cars that could not be relied upon to do so.

How did you get into the 1%?

My wife and I lived well below our income for more than 20 years and invested the rest under the guidance of an adviser.

What criteria did you apply in selecting this adviser?

I had no real evidence of his superior financial wisdom, other than that I liked him.

Does such wisdom exist?

I am not convinced that it does.

How would you rate your own judgment in financial matters?

Let me admit that if I had had the misfortune to meet Mr Madoff before his scheme was exposed, I should have trusted him implicitly. He had such a trustworthy face.

What is your pattern of consumption and mode of life?

It does not differ conspicuously from those of many of my peers, except in so far as I have no television and buy many more books than most.

What do you fear?

To be poor — and to end up in the hands of the State, whose charity is simultaneously patronising and heartless, rule-ridden and capricious.

 

Dear Dr Wonderful

You may work journalistic wonders, but I wonder, are you a wonderful guy?

Highly original and penetrating writers do not necessarily have especially attractive personalities. Myles na gCopaleen, for example, also a hack writer of considerable facility and more than occasional brilliance (Joyce was polite about him), was said euphemistically to be ‘difficult’. But he drank prodigiously, whereas I sense you drink in a Continental rather than a northern-European or Celtic manner.

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 02.54.51What you have made clear is this:

I don’t think I have lived any wonderful days.

Moments of triumph in your life have been few, you tell us. They

have, of course, given me intense pleasure, but the fact is that they did not last. The triumph was like sugar in hot water; it melted away quite quickly. Indeed, my triumphs have often been followed quite swiftly by a reaction, a feeling of the futility or vanity of earthly success.