Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Wasted Talent?

Biding my time in our smallest room recently, I was confronted by Iman's revelation [The Week, 9.7.11] that, instead of "a dirt-poor goatherd who couldn't speak a word of English" - as American modelling agencies were apparently led to believe when she first came to their attention - she was actually "fluent in five languages and studying political science at university in Nairobi."

Well, what can I say? I guess I'm as surprised by this as Iman's first modelling agent, but it has little to do with her job description. And it's a bit rich now for her to expect us to be impressed by her deep knowledge of languages and political science, having preferred to present herself to the world as a human coathanger.

But, hey, I guess it's never too late.

I don't mean to 'pick on' Iman, but her story presents an interesting illustration of a theme. As Lord Turner pointed out, much activity in the City, for example, is ‘socially useless' and 'of no real use to humanity’. And, I've suggested before, if we are going reverse an ugly trend in our society, we must agree on at least one higher ambition than the accumulation of wealth (or fame, or celebrity).

Perhaps the fact that, notwithstanding fortune and fame, Iman now wishes to flaunt her academic credentials suggests that attaining a decent education is that higher ideal.
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