The “Statement of Purpose”

I’ve always been amazed by the biographical flamboyance, which is not only tolerated but actually expected when submitting a proposal or adopting the role of candidate in any given realm. Writing about one’s “unique qualities” is already uncomfortable enough, but actually having to auction the best possible version of yourself has always seemed somewhat obscene.  

“One should not talk about himself”, that’s what I was always taught.

Film critics -who master the skill of identifying the “borrowed” elements, homages, themes ,etc. that contemporary films tend to quote from their classic predecessors- at least have the comfort of writing about someone or something else. 

One could argue that modern times leave no space for institutions to take any risks and that funding sources are entitled to a detailed explanation of how and where their grant moneys will be allocated. But is it actually necessary for an applicant to describe his strengths in a way that enlarges himself to the point of non-recognition? Shouldn’t an artist’s body of work be proof enough? 

The main speaker at a grant-seeking seminar I attend inquired with passion: “Why does the world need your film?”.I immediately thought of a phrase by Argentine author Pedro Mairal, who in his blog reflected with a mix of defeat and irony : “(It’s interesting) how the world seems just as perfect without me”.

There has to be a better way of presenting one’s integrity; one’s core values; one’s sensibilities than through the legitimatization of shameless self-promotion.

In fairness the to money guru back at the seminar, what he probably meant was, “basically explain why you think you might be a key individual in the telling of this story”; and this does make sense to me. But if only we were allowed to be truly humble; truly transparent and perhaps even truly flawed.

In high-school I cheated only once, the time I got caught. I had managed to fit all the answers for a chemistry test in miniature handwriting. The process alone of skillfully transferring all this data onto a minuscule peace of paper indirectly served as a perfect studying technique. So then, could it be perhaps that the very practice of enunciating one’s long list of victories when preparing submission materials actually has an effect that imparts a sense of confidence in the candidate -a priori- that is independent of the outcome of his submission. Should we then “fake it till we make it”?