Been thinking about fame, actually the concept of “fame.”

IMG_7897I’ve never read what others have written about fame, think about it. Have philosophers delved into it?  If those “old dead white guys” have, it is certainly not with all the nuances that today’s technological culture brings with it.  And brings to media, communications and the creation of

FAME.   I define it as the public’s recognition of one’s achievement(s) in the public forums. So historically speaking that makes Edison, Elvis Presley, Michaelangelo, Alfred Hitchcock, Louis XVI — all famous, to name just a few. Some were even recognized in their own time! I say this pointedly as too often it takes death to confer the mantle of worth and fame, especially on artists. This is a reflection of the doctrine of scarcity: now that the maker can no longer make her products they become more desireable, of greater worth.   But I digress.

There seems to be a taint to fame these days;  a cheapening.  It has lost some of its dignity, its luster. Rock stars and movie celebrities are famous. Politicians can become famous, especially when involved in a sex or money scandal. Ah! But I am wrong. The last is not fame. Remember the concept of infamy? When one becomes famous for doing something nefarious or scandalous or both? Then one is infamous, not famous.

It seems to me the importance of that distinction has been a bit lost of late.

What is the point of fame, or being perceived as famous? Fame exists in a broad spectrum, doesn’t it? There is the local Little League star, the winner of the Pumpkin Festival, and the State’s beauty queen.  We go to rock concerts, symphonies and museums to see well-known — “famous”– artists.  We can be passionate about and cheer national sports figures and war heroes. We have scientific geniuses and technology gurus who become our heroes and heroines.  Well known, famous for their contributions to society.

Then there are those who seek fame for just fame’s sake.  I don’t get this; fame junkies must be really whacked, just very insecure; have hungry egos.  Why need the attention and admiration of masses of strangers?  There’s no nutrition there, it’s pure junk food for the soul.

On the very very other hand, there are those who have overcome  difficult and obstinate obstacles in their striving to become/achieve/defend.  These ones often are not thinking about becoming famous or seeking any recognition, but simply determined to look at and solve the problems in front of them, come hell or high water, so to speak.  They gain public admiration and  fame, sometimes to their own surprise.  Think Helen Keller, the Grimke sisters, Stephen Hawking.

I think the best thing about the notion of “fame” is that it confers a sense that a contribution to society  has been made that inspires others; a road map… the individual (or group) responsible for the achievement is a role model for the rest of us.  An inspiration.

So, at its most positive, fame’s purpose can be said to be to promote inspiration.

Other than that…fame is just a form of Viagra for the Ego.

And that is certainly not of True Beauty.


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