Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Kidding around on the internet yesterday, I teased a long-distance chum about becoming "famous." He played along and after a few postings and an email or two, the joke had run its course. Because of his involvement in a discussion dealing with Buddhist malfeasance, another writer had accused him of becoming "famous" because of that involvement. There was something juvenile and ludicrous about the accusation, but it did make me think about fame.

Lots of people latch onto Andy Warhol's suggestion that "in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." It has a silly cast to it, but it also has a thread of longed-for truth. I too would like to be the focus of much attention, to be raised up, to be applauded and adored... if only for 15 minutes. To be appreciated for something only I could do; to be applauded on some big or small screen; to have others pay attention to me with something like the attention I somehow, wistfully, deserve. Mostly, nobody notices, and I am, as a result, a nobody. It's a pleasant idea to be enveloped in some wider "yay!"

Recognizing this longing -- "fame is fleeting" -- there are those who dive into a contrived,  forelock-tugging humility. But I think it may be better just to recognize it and think it over.

The most obvious thing about fame in all of its subtle and gross incarnations is the bedrock reliance on others. I cannot be famous unless you say so. And since you often have more important fish to fry, my continued  fame requires ever greater infusions of noise or accomplishment in order to attract your attention.

This is a wobbly world since any quiet walk through the woods or along the beach will let me know that when no one else is around to cheer, fame and a couple of bucks will get you a bus ride. Without others, how do I go about being at peace? How can I be content if the only way I am content is by relying on others? And not just other people ... other scenes, other assumptions, other judgments and distinctions. A daisy is not famous, but it doesn't seem to mind ... and in the meanwhile, it is beautiful.

Well, I imagine others can do the cogitating or meditating on the subject. Fame points towards something pretty useful, I think. But its importance is greater than whether you applaud me or I applaud you. It's even more important than whether I applaud myself.

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