I will have more to say on John; as he went from Exeter to NYU, to producing songs for The Fugees, to being sentenced to a mandatory minimum 14-years for drug possession and intent to distribute, to Carly Simon getting his story on ABC's "Primetime," he knows the path of The Assimilated Negro as well as anyone.
But for now, I invite you to check him out yourself. Prison has not dulled his mind, and his letters are thoughtful, evocative, and compelling.
I particularly enjoyed this letter on inspiration and "commitment to excellence":
The Assimilated Misanthrope? Well, while I try to take John's comments on work ethic to heart, and seek out the suffering on my "quest for greatness," please go check out John's site, his music, his words, his journey. Viva la TAN generación!!
And what’s with my recent affinity for Machiavelli? Not with his writings, per say, as much as his dutiful and legendary work habits. The man would commit at least four hours each and every day to his craft. (If this seems like a small feat, I implore any doubting deriders to do the same.)
Who of us would not rather spend a lazy summer afternoon in the company of friends, exchanging tall tales over even taller glasses of lemonade, than inside some crawlspace-of-a-room, practicing finger positions on an instrument older than grandma’s grandma?! Not the sexiest of thoughts, I know; yet anything less would fail to come anywhere remotely close to the neighborhood of the truth. Committing to excellence is, more often than not, not a sexy endeavor.
At the heart of our admiration for iconoclasts lies a simultaneous and compelling pity for them; for we know that they suffered during their quests for greatness. Perhaps their genius went unrecognized during their lifetimes. The isolation (necessitated by cultivation) might have alienated their peers and families. How often are social outcasts improperly denigrated as misanthropic because of society’s failure to accept what it does not understand?
Free John Forté [official website]
John Forté's wiki