In the spirit of optimism and positivity, I have decided to start the project ’20 people I admire’. Why? For one, I don’t have many idols or people I think are worthy of admiration. There’s something unreal about it – after all, every human being has to do mundane things like eat breakfast, go to the bathroom or suffer embarrassing moments at a checkout register. However, every once in a while, there are people that I wish I could be more like, at least in the aspects I admire about them. Here are the basic rules of my list:
- The person in question has to be still alive.
- No dead people.
- I will limit myself to about 300 words per person.
- The people are listed in no particular order of importance.
- I can’t know or have met them personally.
To start off with some namedropping, here’s five people who almost made the cut, why they almost made it and why they ended up not making it after all:
- George Monbiot: writer, journalist and living conscience of the Western left. His columns for the Guardian are always incisive, on point and full of the right messages, whether he speaks about the destruction wrought by unfettered global financial elites, or the damage we’re doing to the environment. Why he didn’t make it? Sometimes he feels a bit too much like a mirror image of myself, and well, there’s a certain smugness to him that I don’t always appreciate.
- Richard D. James: better known as Aphex Twin – he is a music pioneer and electronic wizard. This bad boy has influenced countless artists and has probably enriched the lives of millions with his particular brand of visionary music. Why he didn’t make it? I sometimes find myself wanting to like his entire discography more than it is actually likable. This may be a little unfair because he’s produced so much material, but about 30% of his tracks are just cerebral duds to me.
- Lindy West: one of the leading voices of website Jezebel, which I suspect has turned a lot of young women on a path to feminism with its witty, sometimes nonsensical style, broad range of topics and clever writing. West is probably one of the best writers they have. Why she didn’t make it? Sometimes I do find her to be too much of a loose cannon, and I have very mixed feelings in general about the whole fangirling and the “your imaginary boyfriend” Jezebel does.
- Claire Boucher: creative Wunderkind in electronic music who fuses countless styles and wears them as a coat wholly her own, plus an outspoken voice on sexism in the music industry. As Grimes, you’ve got to hand it to her that she totally does her own thing. Why she didn’t make it? Although most of her material is good, none of it is excellent (yet), and she just comes off as a tad hipsterish to me.
- Dan Simmons: the writer of such ground-breaking sci-fi as the 'Hyperion Cantos' and a master at horror, physical pain and psychological torment, Simmons is responsible for my thesis and a major source of inspiration to me as a writer. I feel he has never quite been given the recognition that he deserves – he should be listed among sci-fi’s living greats. Why he didn’t make the cut? Unfortunately his writing qualities took a dent in his later years, along with his weird turn for the politically reactionary.
Coming up, as the first person to be featured in ’20 people I admire’: Chris Corner, the pounding heart of IAMX, and an overall under-recognised musical genius.