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Published August 19, 2010
Failure: a word that is defined many different ways by diverse peoples around the world. Depending on cultural background and individual personality, failure can be any number of things. Some designate failure as underperforming in competition. Others believe failure to be a deficiency of good luck in most areas of human existence, be it work, relationships, or simply life in general. The Nobel Foundation has always defined failure as “a total lack of success in a given arena,” with an emphasis on failure to exceed, or even live up to, the standards set by the populace.
    Since 1934, the Nobel Foundation has awarded the Nobel Prize in Failure to people the world over who have shown that they will not, or, perhaps more properly, cannot, achieve on the same level as everyone else. The recipient of the inaugural Prize was R. Gerald Meriwether, known predominantly as “Gerald the Herald.” Meriwether was recognized as a master at failing when, after years of publicly promulgating apocalyptic theories, he admitted that his prophecies were plagiarized from an obscure,  late 11th century poet’s writings and that he had only convinced people to follow his divinations so that he could garner some semblance of human contact. Meriwether was ostracized by his flock and spent the last 12 years of his wretched existence living inside of a makeshift lean-to on the outskirts of Newark, New Jersey. He used his Nobel Prize as a weapon to fend off invaders.

Every year since 1934, the Nobel Foundation has sent representatives to assess candidates in the field of Failure. Over the last year, our representatives reviewed as many as 200 candidates in the field of Failure. Many of these talented men and women have made great strides in their area of expertise. Candidates for the Prize have included:
- Muhammad bin al-Saheed, of Ta’if, Saudi Arabia, who spent nearly 13 hours straight on his couch, weeping, after his wife left him. In his marathon session, al-Saheed set a new world record for the most time a grown man has ever spent sobbing without being consoled by another human being.


- Scot Milligan, of Washington, D.C., has not held a job paying more than minimum wage in 32 years. Scot’s first job was fry cook at a Hardee’s restaurant and his most recent job was as a bus boy at a Frisch’s Big Boy. Scot’s coworkers are all in high school, while Scot is 48 years old and lives in a studio apartment above a mechanic’s shop. Scot is not married.


- Gertrud Yüt, of Hangö, Sweden, has been living in her car for 8 years. Gertrud inherited the car, a 1964 Volvo PV544, after her grandmother died in 1996 and has been living in it since her parents kicked her out of their house in 2001. As of July 2009, Yüt has never been employed, nor has she ever held any non-automotive residence.


Instead of valiantly toiling or even settling for a mediocre life, candidates for, and recipients of, the Nobel Prize in Failure choose to quietly eschew any remaining traces of dignity and silently slip into the cracks of society. It takes a special kind of person to completely give up when faced with strife, but we must thank them for their utter lack of effort. These sublimely lamentable souls have dedicated their lives to wasting away in rueful obscurity; they are the true heroes of humanity. Their failures facilitate the triumphs of others. In a way, these derelicts have made the world what it is today: a better, brighter, happier planet, full of opportunities for those who possess the will and means to accept them.

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