Fame and Reincarnation

Quote of the Day: “fame… It breaks your heart” Kristen Johnston writing at her blog.

I’ve spent some time over the years contemplating Fame and its poor cousin Celebrity (and written occasional posts as well). Why we mortals are so enthralled by it and why so many chase after it.

Although I’ve not dedicated my life to becoming rich (and succeeded rather well at not doing so) I can understand those who do. When I was making ‘good money’ for a few years I was able to enjoy it without guilt because I’d spent many years living paycheque to paycheque. Sure, money won’t buy happiness but it is nice not to have to shop to a short, precise, list at the Dollar Store. Although most of us will work hard and put up with discomfort (if not outright pain) for at least some person or cause it’s also true that most of us would like to be comfortable from time to time. As a side note- Dad always says that a very well-off person, when cornered as to their economic situation, will often say “Well, I’m comfortable“.

But the quest to be famous? Perhaps being a young gay man 40 years ago, I could only imagine notoriety or social stigma as the way I would ever be well-known by people unknown to me. Even as I dreamt of being great friends with any number of people of repute, I had no desire to become one myself. Yet the evidence is overwhelming that many people hunger for fame of some level. From an early age there are those that demand attention. We say some of them are ‘natural-born leaders’ or ‘destined for greatness’ or that they ‘will be famous (or infamous) before they die’. And now Andy Warhol’s prediction that “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” (a riff, perhaps, on the works of the late Marshall McLuhan) is fast becoming true- although 15 minutes would seem to be an over-all average rather than a constant.

However, I see such fleeting attention as mere celebrity or notoriety rather than full-blown fame. That deep-seated need to be recognized by everyone, everywhere. To see your name and your image on magazines (well, now on monitors) so often that your Press Agent has to add staff to keep track. The sort of person exemplified by Glee’s Rachel Berry.

Kristen’s experiences with other famous people is anecdotal rather than a scientific study, and inevitably tinted by her own experience (she is open about her being ‘in recovery’ and her blog discusses addiction more than anything else). But clearly the type of person[ality] that will endure everything involved in reaching the pinnacle of fame (or the pinnacle of just about any profession or endeavour) is driven by an extreme need. Or as she writes “this THING that would mean your life was wonderful and you weren’t broken, this THING you’ve given your heart, dreams, soul, trust & love to since you were a kid…” Sure sounds pathological. Of course I am not a licensed or trained therapist, and I often think that most of us (at least, in these ‘modern’ Western societies) are pathological to some degree. I recall John Bradshaw saying that someone once asked him if he had really said that “90% of modern families are dysfunctional” to which he had replied that no, he had said that 100% are.

Here I must take time to point out that I have some friends/ acquaintances ‘in the biz’ who are relatively normal and seem well-adjusted. Perhaps they are not driven as strongly by the dark energy that Kristen describes; or maybe they are just great actors. All generalizations are false (as is that one).

Perhaps in the end it boils down to the human condition; we may learn plenty of facts but stubbornly refuse to avoid cliches. “I wish that just once people wouldn’t act like the clich├ęs that they are,” (Claire Fisher, Six Feet Under episode 1.03). Yet as I sit here wishing I had the money to engage in a real kick-@ss Midlife Crisis how can I question a new generation of fame-seeking wannabees? I’m in a pretty good mood today, or I would ask if it’s even possible for humankind to ever make progress on a spiritual or philosophical level if we are bound to repeat such patterns individually. Forget about becoming our parent[s] as we age; we seem destined to repeat much older patterns.

Perhaps belief in reincarnation arises not from a fear of death so much as a subconscious desire to have multiple lifetimes to really learn how to be a fully-realized human animal. A ‘do-over’ as it were. Certainly as I edge past the midpoint of my 50s I see that I have at least another 50 years of projects and dreams to realize.

Now that I’ve totally lost site of the opening line, and the subject of fame, I guess its time to stop. Or ramble on about how most people feel they are the reincarnation of Cleopatra or other major historical figure….

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Limited Edition Shirts

Limited Editions aren’t just for framed prints any more. We are selling a series of Limited Edition* shirts with selected pieces of our photographic and digital artwork. Each design will be offered for a two week period; after which the design will be retired.

First, our Chromed Rose 368 design. The image features a photographic close-up of a rose that has been digitally remastered with some colour shifts and chrome detailing. It is not offered as a print or on merchandise other than this shirt, and will not be available from us again.

The second design is Pink Lilies 22103; lilies photographed against black card in our own garden. This image is available on merchandise elsewhere but is not available on apparel other than this Edition.

Design number three is Playground 16. A digitally-altered image from our original photograph; bright sunlight and snow pale compared to the colours of the playground equipment. This image is available on merchandise elsewhere but is not available on apparel other than this Edition.

+ Profits from the sale of these special edition shirts will support an independent Fine Art photographer.

* Each Edition is limited to the number of confirmed orders received within the two week period ending at 11:59pm ET on April 26th, 2014 (the Chromed Rose edition closes on April 25th) with a goal of 15 of each design.

Limited Edition Chromed Rose Shirt
Chromed Rose 368
Limited Edition Lilies Shirt
Pink Lilies 22103
Limited Edition Playground Shirt
Playground 16

 

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Faster Than the Speed of Nanites

The following is an edited version of an email I sent a friend who sent me an picture of a commuter train platform brimming with people engrossed in various electronic gadgets; no one seemingly aware of anyone else.

When I rode the TTC (Toronto Transit System) to work 30 years ago, the majority of travelers were reading newspapers or books rather than engaging in conversation; perhaps the issues are deeper and older than Apple and gadgets. While some of my traveling companions then seemed to be wrapped up in work-related activity, many were reading for pleasure. Now some are playing games while others are clearly engaged in work, even if not ‘on the clock’. Common wisdom says there are more involved in the latter than in my day; I don’t know for sure.

Perhaps playing the most basic, mindless of games or reading 100 word blurbs (labeled ‘articles’) is hardly comparable to doing advanced level crossword puzzles or reading thoughtful articles in actual journals. We have a society flooded with sound-bites, a 24 hour news cycle, advertising based on a 15 second attention span- information overload. Too much information to remember it all, much less ‘process it’ (we used to call that doing analysis or thinking; processing used to be a manufacturing term…. )

For that matter, do we really need to be spending all our time awake “improving ourselves” and fighting to be able to enjoy life only on weekends or after we retire? Now that’s often after the age of 70 if we make it that far. The pressure to be a ‘team player’ and the endemic of sleep deprivation is a real issue as well. But we must keep our focus.

On the one hand I agree that some people seem addicted to their “toys”. On the other hand some people are addicted to Rx drugs or sex or otherwise ensnared in self-destructive behaviours. Addiction is a real problem that is too often ignored; but it can’t be an easy excuse. And an addict is not helped by blaming the addiction. Nor blaming their supposed ‘lack of moral fibre; addiction is a medical/ biochemical condition that needs be treated.

Perhaps the problem, or one major foundation, is that schools are afraid to teach Responsibility or How To Think. Some parents say that schools should not “teach morals” while others demand schools teach only their preferred moral system; no wonder public schools feel they can’t win. Add in teaching to standardized tests, budget cuts, parents demanding athletic programmes over ‘the arts’ in hopes of their child earning a scholarship to over-priced schools, ‘creationism’ as a pseudo-science and people being famous for being famous rather than for actual talent, hard work and dedication…

In which case the solution is not to just condemn or merely treat the symptom(s). Curing the disease would mean confronting Corporatism and Consumerism… admittedly a big challenge.

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