The Greatest Commencement Address of All Time

On December 18, 1988, twenty-five years after his writing had been denounced as “anti-Soviet” in his native Russia and mere months after winning the Nobel Prize in Literature “for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity,” prolific poet and essayist Joseph Brodsky took the podium at Ann Arbor and addressed the graduating class at the University of Michigan with one of the most beautiful and timeless commencement speeches ever given, offering six invaluable pieces of wisdom on good-personhood and the meaning of life.

Maria Popova wrote and excellent article in her free weekly interestingness digest Brain Pickings about the speech sub-titled Joseph Brodsky’s 6 Rules for Playing the Game of Life Like a Winner although this might be better phrased the 6 rules for playing the game of life like a real winner to emphasize that it’s not about material things to be gained.

“Of all the parts of your body, be most vigilant over your index finger, for it is blame-thirsty. A pointed finger is a victim’s logo.”

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