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Author Topic: Transcript of commencement speech to New England Institute of Art, class of '11!  (Read 14533 times)

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Amanda Palmer

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edit: read the new blog (where you can watch video of the speech below) at http://bit.ly/FraudBlog



hola all!

here's the CLIP
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eA8XiC3m7vw&feature=youtu.be


here's the whole fiasco word for word, lovingly transcribed by superkate....


THE FRAUD POLICE

hi…..these are tough acts to follow. that was really beautiful. thank you so much for playing...
i wanted to start my speech to you by giving you a personal round of applause for getting out of college alive. congratulations!

some of you may have already been out in what people like to call the 'real' world. you may have already been out working and hustling for jobs. but some of you probably came here straight from high school. and have been living in college and you're about to be launched into your first experience of a life without an imposed structure from the outside. you may have lived an entire life with a structure imposed by your parents or by a school or some kind of system. and you're entering a world with no solid rules and no course book, and no good and evil measuring stick given to you by somebody else. which is awesome, but it's also incredibly confusing. and i only have a couple of minutes to talk to you. and i thought for a long time about what i wanted to talk about.

when i graduated, i went to wesleyan university. and when i graduated in 1998 after four very confusing years, our graduation speaker, the commencement speaker, i am not kidding, was oprah. and…i think she had a niece in my graduating class. and i don't remember anything about what she talked about. i'm sure it was really awesome and inspiring, but i don't remember. and i thought, if i have five minutes to talk to you guys, i want to give you one thing to take away that you would definitely remember.

so i am going to tell you today about something that my friends and i call 'the fraud police'. the fraud police are this imaginary, terrifying force of experts and real grown-ups who don't exist and who come knocking on your door at 3am when you least expect it, saying "fraud police. we've been watching you and we have evidence that you have no idea what you are doing. and you stand accused of the crime of completely making shit up as you go along. you do not actually deserve your job and we're taking everything away. and we're telling everybody." and people working in the arts, especially, have to combat the inner fraud police on a daily basis. and even if you are a very happy, healthy, confident person, the fear of the fraud police is ever lurking. and it really doesn't matter who you are. i have friends who are teachers and writers and psychologists and scientists and pretty much every profession under the sun. and everybody, every so-called adult i know, has had this feeling about their job and themselves at some level. and i don't mean to put all of the non-graduates and grown-ups on the spot, but graduates please look around at the adults. and adults please raise your hand if you've ever had the feeling that the fraud police are going to come and expose you for not actually being able to do your job. the other ones are lying.

so the good news is it does get a little better and it gets easier, but it never really goes away. and do not think for a second that the people that you see out in the real world, working real jobs, all the professionals, do not make the mistake of thinking that they totally know what they are doing. and that they have things totally figured out.
because they don't.
and a lot of you are heading into fields where there's no rule book. no rule book has ever been written for your profession because it can't be written. and lawyers and doctors and astrophysicists actually have an easier time i think, in a certain sense, because they have specific tracks they can follow. they can get phd's. and once you've clocked your 10,000 hours, and passed all of the tests, you get magically let into a room where someone gives you a knife and you can start cutting people's brains open. because you're an expert.
but i believe even these guys fear the fraud police. and even a seasoned expert brain surgeon, wielding a scalpel about to cut somebody's head open, must have that moment. where she thinks, "i can't believe they're letting me do this. don't they know i'm a complete fool. i lost my keys this morning. i dropped my cell phone in a puddle, and it's broken. and i am here holding a sharp knife about to cut a human being's head open, and they might die. who is letting me do this? they're crazy."

now arts might seem slightly different. and fashion and sound and media and the music business are a slightly different planet. but not really. and do not make the mistake of thinking that your job does not deal in the realm of life and death. because it actually does. it's just not as direct.
making art is just as important to the whole world as performing brain surgery and building suspension bridges and saving people's lives in hospitals. and you probably need to talk to a lot of doctors and structural engineers who live to experience art before you will really believe me.

but it's true.

so i want to tell you that one of the best things you can do, when you're leaving here, is to just start working. and start making things up. and use each other, use you're friends, help your friends, design things for free, take photos for free, do sound for free, make costumes for free, use what you've got laying around. and when someone asks you if you can help them with something, and you have no clue if you actually can, but you think you can figure it out, say yes.

and then figure it out. and you might fuck up. and you probably will fuck up. but you will learn stuff. and you will actually learn one of the most valuable lessons in the business, which is how to apologize to your best friend that their show is a total mess because of you. my husband, neil gaiman, who's in the audience today, started as a journalist. and he loves telling the story of how he got his first jobs as a journalist when he was a young, starving writer with no work, by calling up magazines and lying to them about all the other magazines he had written for. and they didn't check. they just believed him. so they gave him jobs. but he proved he could write. and i used to, here in boston when i was a young musician, i used to call the middle east nightclub in cambridge, and tell them that i had fills of fancy bands coming from new york all figured out with this fantastic band they'd never heard, the dresden dolls, as a support band. and the middle east would say 'okay'. and then i would call all those famous bands in new york and say 'hey, i heard the middle east really wants you to do a show with the dresden dolls opening. and i would sort of lie my way into these situations. but once you get there and you prove that your band is actually good, and you get your foot in the door, magical things happen.

so do not be afraid to offer your help to total strangers. you have nothing to lose. and a lot of people out in the world need, and do not have, the tools that you guys are walking away with today. as a musician, i don't think there's a single one of you graduating today who couldn't probably help me in some way, for real. and i tend to work with the people who have the balls to come up to me and grab my attention. and show me that they know how to do something awesome.  

which brings me to one of the last things i wanted to tell you about, which is a little bit nerdy. but the internet, which i use all the time on a daily basis, and i'm sure you do too, has changed everything by allowing artists to connect with each other, easily and all the time. so use the internet, pitch yourself, find opportunities, seek strange opportunities, and tell people about what you can do for them. you'd be surprised at who will listen. my website has an email address on it and a lot of artists are easily, directly contactable. so offer your help and your talent and your time and your energy. because there is an unwritten code out there right now, especially online, that we're all helping each other to build a beautiful, crazy, lawless new world. where there are no rules about how it gets built, we are making the rules up as we go along, and we are changing them every single day.

and eventually, i promise you, you will get to a point where the fraud police will come knocking. and you will open the door. and when they accuse you of being a fraud, you will honestly be able to say, "you're right. i still have no idea what i'm actually doing. i am making this shit up as i go along, but it is working out just fine. and also here in behind me is an incredible party with awesome people, a bumping sound system that we built ourselves out of salvaged parts, with a giant electronic glass bubble bath installation filled with escaped pandas and dancing girls that we found on craig's list, and you are not invited."
congratulations you guys.

have an amazing life.


xxx
AFP
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cbkof

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Yes. Very nicely done. Excellent timing for those '11 students.
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absynth aura

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Fantastic. So true, and so from the heart.
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MelKilledAFP

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yeah.. absoulutely.  i just started writing full time. i write for other people for free most of the time  and make my money to survive on the spoken word cds and small books i sell.  this could not have come at a better time for me.

:) once again you tell the absolute truth. fuck plan B.
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Jon Hanna

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When the Fraud Police point out how I pretty much lucked out in most things I got right, I'm going to ask them to ante-up when it comes to all the stuff I worked hard at that went to shit. Who's the fraud now, fuckers?
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lentower

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amanda:

the delivery was perfect,
granted the topic you choose to speak on



the Fraud Police aren't always imaginary.
often family and friends,
with the best of intentions,
are the Fraud Police

The Angel Raliel

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it was wonderful and highly inspiring... a whole new generation of creative peoples should be inspired by this
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This is a beautiful commencement speech, well done and very inspiring.

What I remember from the commencement speeches at my graduations:
High School -
My principle quoted Coldplay's X&Y album, it was weird.

College -
Lots of babble about how unfortunate we were for graduating during such a terrible economy, really, the opposite of uplifting. They might as well have said "GOOD LUCK GETTING A JOB, MUAHAHA"

ha.

lentower

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I gave my high school commencement speech
  inspiring babble
people seemed to like it

MIT's President gave my college commencement speech
i really don't remember much about.
my classmate next to me,
(a pre-med,
 admitted to med school)
was reading a book on
listening to hearts,
and it was much more interesting ; - )

Amanda Palmer

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all i remember from the oprah speech was how proud i was of myself that i came up with a clever costume design.

i sequined "go opera" on the back of my graduation gown.

not a single person thought it was funny.

i did....
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Musings

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For some of us, there is no Plan A or Plan B, just the moments we're currently traveling in.  If the moments and what we're doing with them work, we stick with them, and if they don't, we find a new way. 

You and Oprah were on similar wavelengths -- you should read her finale transcript:
http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/The-Oprah-Winfrey-Show-Finale_1/1
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lentower

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all i remember from the oprah speech was how proud i was of myself that i came up with a clever costume design.

i sequined "go opera" on the back of my graduation gown.

not a single person thought it was funny.

i did....

PICTURE(S)?!?!?

Amanda Palmer

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For some of us, there is no Plan A or Plan B, just the moments we're currently traveling in.  If the moments and what we're doing with them work, we stick with them, and if they don't, we find a new way. 

You and Oprah were on similar wavelengths -- you should read her finale transcript:
http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/The-Oprah-Winfrey-Show-Finale_1/1



reading this now. it's awesome. GO OPRAH
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all i remember from the oprah speech was how proud i was of myself that i came up with a clever costume design.

i sequined "go opera" on the back of my graduation gown.

not a single person thought it was funny.

i did....

I would have laughed my ass off.

The part about you getting support shows reminded me of a Regina Spektor interview I read (Or watched, I forget).
She explained how she got her first show by calling up the club and telling them that they had already booked her but had misplaced the booking, essentially they just apologised and gave her a show. She had missed the open mic night so she tried that and it worked.
Stories like hers and yours are always incredibly inspiring to me.

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the speeches made at my high school graduation were all about how we could take over the world and do anything we wanted

the speeches made at my graduation from the course i did in music business along with performance and audio tech was along the lines of most of you will fail
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