Absolute power, it is said, corrupts absolutely. Absolute failure also corrupts absolutely — and this is the focus of New America Foundation fellow Megan McArdle's discussion of how integral failure is to American success. Part of the Zocalo at the Hammer series, McArdle — a self-described “Libertarian,” if that helps you figure out what side you feel like being on tonight — discusses how failure has grown from something about which any sensible person might be rightly ashamed, to something now so fetishized as to warrant an entirely new kind of erection. Viagra, for example, has succeeded precisely because of impotence. McArdle's take on failure is that the ability to live through it gracefully is the key to future economic success. Or, as F. Scott Fitzgerald rather gracefully put it, “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” And he had the whole Zelda thing to deal with, so he should know.

Wed., Oct. 13, 7 p.m., 2010

LA Weekly