Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Wisdom and Compassion of Frank McCourt

Several times in a normal week, I remember the humorous words and wisdom of Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes, 'Tis, and Teacher Man.

So given the topic and the comments thread here, I did not want to let the opportunity pass today.

In 'Tis, where we learn about McCourt's early years in the US as an adult, there is a sizeable section about how he starts university at the age of 23, without a high school diploma, and with the feeling that he doesn't belong among the younger, richer American kids with parents fretting over their GPAs and grad school options. On pages 155-156, he writes:

Every day I'm learning how ignorant I am especially when I go for a coffee and a grilled cheese sandwich in the cafeteria at NYU. There are always crowds of students who drop their books on the floor and seem to have nothing to do but talk...Everyone talks and no one listens...the students argue about the meaning of everything, life, the existence of God, the terrible state of the world, and you never know when someone is going to drop in the one word that gives everyone the deep serious look, existentialism. They might talk about how they want to be doctors and lawyers till one throws up his hand and declares everything is meaningless, that the only person in the world who makes any sense is Albert Camus who says your most important act every day is deciding not to commit suicide.
Click here to watch Frank McCourt with Sandip Roy.

No comments: