America's Greatest Thinker Part 1: The Challenge

Float like a disembodied psyche, sting like a hymenoptera at the temple of Nike: Can't nobody beat me. Because I am the greatest. Just not everybody knows it yet.

Atlantic City wouldn't give me a venue. Las Vegas took away my thinking license. The Motley Fool rejected my resume. Twice. But that's all going to change June 9, when the town of New York Mills, Minnesota holds its 15th annual Great American Think-Off and once and forever crowns me America's Greatest Thinker. And I want you, dear Tiny Mix Tapes reader, to be there with me.

Situated at the heart of scenic Otter Tail County, New York Mills (population ~1,200) is famous for two things: the world's largest art tractor, unveiled in 1998, and the Great American Think-Off, which has been formally recognizing the finest minds of this country since 1993. Each year, the Think-Off pits contenders against one another in a no-holds-barred battle of wit and perspective in the form of a 750-word, themed essay. All are encouraged to apply, but only four philosophical giants will be chosen as finalists by the Think-Off's panel of judges. These elite few will be flown/cart-and-buggied to New York Mills for a day of celebration, and a parade will be held in their honor. The following day will be the day of reckoning, when the finalists defend their theses in a public debate, and by the time the sun sets on Otter Tail County's 1,048 lakes, only one true champion will rise in silhouetted glory against the backdrop of the North Star State's flaming horizon.

It's hard to be humble when you're as great as I am. But as a symbol of my eternal gratitude, dear reader — for it was your fertile soil in which my genius was nurtured and brought to fruition — I wish to chronicle my quest in these hallowed pages. Every step of the way — from the moment I set pen to paper to the moment when I take my rightful place alongside Lao Tzu, Sri Adi Shankara, Aristarchus (of Samothrace, not of Tegea or Samos), and all of my honorable predecessors in the pantheon of the world's great thinkers — I will keep you informed with a weekly update of my progress. As an added beneficence, and because knowledge should be free to the great and common alike, I wish to offer up my thinking services to the Tiny Mix Tapes audience. E-mail me or fill out the forum below with your deepest thoughts and questions, and each week I will select one or two for a personal response on the site. With our combined efforts, the world may finally see my brilliance properly enshrined.

And so let the quest begin: Tiny Mix Tapes, America, Earth — let's get ready to ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuminate.


Deepest Thought and/or Question:

Other Installments

Part I: The Challenge

Part II: Who Hearted?

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