- Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable . . . Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. [Martin Luther King, Jr., Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story (1957).]
Most geniuses are dedicated to their field of endeavor, partly because their enthusiasm motivates them so strongly. Dedication is not transcendent, per se, but is a frequent characterizing feature of the transcendent person.
- Eve Curie, Madame Curie:A Biography (Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc., 1937).
- Barbara Goldsmith, Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie (W.W. Norton, 2005).
- Laura Redniss, Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout (It Books, 2010).
- Charles Slack, Noble Obsession: Charles Goodyear, Thomas Hancock, and the Race to Unlock the Greatest Industrial Secret of the Nineteenth Century (Hyperion, 2002).
- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (HarperCollins Publications (2015): “ . . . Musk is brutal on himself, routinely working 100-hour weeks. He is brutal as a boss, too, often berating or summarily firing colleagues while hogging credit for others’ accomplishments. Yet he is without question a leader who pushes risky ideas forward through a combination of long-range vision and deep technical intelligence. He knows how to hire good people and how to motivate them. Most important, he never, ever gives up.”
- Rachel Cohen, Austen Years: A Memoir in Five Novels (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2020): “Cohen read Jane Austen’s work exclusively for seven years — through the death of her father and two pregnancies; her winsome, nuanced account of the experience makes clear the British novelist’s abundant consolations.”
Here is a short video about a woman who carries her granddaughter to school over mountains, two hours each way, every day.
Documentary and Educational Films
- Spellbound, following eight high-level competitorsin the national spelling bee
- First Position: teens and pre-teens competefor honors and future positions as ballet dancers
- Herb and Dorothy: a married couple use their little discretionary incometo collect minimalist art works, creating a valuable collection
- Jiro Dreams of Sushi, featuring a manwidely reputed to be the world’s greatest sushi chef, the only sushi chef to be awarded Michelin’s three-star rating: he considers a day away from his work lost time
- Blindsight: a blind man climbs Mount Everest, leading six blind teenagers toward the summit with him
- Valentin Serov, Portrait of the Composer Nikiolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1898)
- Raphael, The School of Athens (1510-11)
Film and Stage
- The Citadel, about a physician dedicatedto his patients and his profession
- Black Swan, dedicationto the art of ballet, seen from the dark side
- Lust for Life, about Vincentvan Gogh
- Whiplash, about dedication carried too far, and on someone else’s back
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Tchaikovsky, Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat minor, Op. 23 (performances by Cliburn, Richter (1962), Argerich and Horowitz): Tchaikovsky constructed this concerto on Ukranian folk tunes. This intense and dramatic concerto does not sound like the expression of folk tunes but like someone dedicated to a task.
Rafael Méndez (1906-81) was a Mexican-born trumpeter who transcended the limits of his instrument with lightning-fast runs that are usually inaccessible to any instrument but the violin. His long hours of practice and single-minded focus on his instrument were legendary.
- “The World's Most Versatile Trumpeter” album
- “Collección Mexico” album
- various tracks
- album with Laurindo Almeida
- Fight of the Bumble Bee; Mexican Hat Dance
- Moto Perpetuo (Paganini)
- Zigeunerweisen (Sarasate’s gypsy airs)
- Jota No. 2
- Tre-Mendez Polka (with his twin sons)
- Romanza (with Laurindo Almeida)
- Raga Shivranjani, a Carnatic raga usually performed at midnight (performances by Bismillah Khan, Chaurasia and Ali Akbar Khan)