This image is part of a standard campaign to support veterans in the USA.
It touches a different nerve in me than the one intended…
I have helped support ex-servicemen’s PTSD groups, set one up even. I am anti-war, anti-anyone joining the armed services, but pro getting them the psychiatric help they need afterwards when that inevitable mind-messing thing has happened.
But this idea that we are “not prepared to be forgotten” is touching a different nerve. Of all the things to accept, and prepare for, the certainty that we will be forgotten is a good one. The polar opposite of this acceptance is part of the reach for immortality that is poisoning the well in this Post-Warhol world of fame sought for its own supposed merits.
A big step onto the degrading path of fame for nothing has been TV’s “Big brother” – where people were invited to be in a show that then created fame for simply existing as a voyeur’s object. Beyond the sad talent show entrants who cannot sing but feel they have a right to “Be on TV” there is a brief history of people going a disgusting step further. The man, who I won’t name, who shot John Lennon, had no insane grievance with the man – he just wanted to grab his fame by murderous association. I had an online argument with the film producer who made a film called, “The man who shot John Lennon” and he couldn’t see the argument at all – that he was as bad as that man and, like Yoko Ono, I wished him nothing but eternal failure in that mission.
I have had this argument with some reasonably intelligent people, that seeking fame for fame’s sake is not only a sad mission, it is a sick one.
The pilot who “wanted to ensure everyone remembered his name” deserves the same fate as John Lennon’s killer – to be forgotten as a sad talentless schmuck. The same applies to the “gone postal” gun-nut killers that the USA appears to breed and nurture, with the help of their naïve revenge and gun culture.
These people do not emerge from a clear blue sky, they are gaining the idea of fame as more worthy than life itself from the sickest side of mainstream culture.
Sure we can find mental health problems in these cases when we dig into them – but while many people who suffer from depression do, sadly, commit suicide, 99.9% of people with mental health problems do not, and especially do not decide to take people with them in some desperate attempt to win Satan’s Reality show.
If you seek fame, at the very least you have an infantile delusion about what it might bring you, at worst you will waste years of your life developing shallowness instead of meaning. Those who have “achieved” fame through their talents as singers, actors, TV stars or whatever, tend to find out that widespread recognition is an unwelcome trap.
Every famous person has many stories of being confronted by fans on the street, full of praise for a film they starred in – except they didn’t. The fan has mistaken them for someone else “off of the Telly” and is disappointed that the signature isn’t what they expected…
Psychologists have long ago established the rationale behind seeking fame – the feeling of insufficient love received, the craving for attention that may somehow fill that yawning gap inside – but it cannot do that, especially when every fan so clearly fails to see and admire “You” but instead worships the shell of stardom in which you have successfully become trapped.
The realisation soon dawns on most famous folk, that not being able to eat in peace at a restaurant is a curse, and a curse that carries the real risk of the more dangerous fame seekers deciding that you are almost their property, and have a duty to bend to their desires of association. Hence the tendency to have only other famous faces as friends and hide behind locked gates and electric fences, success in the desire for fame leading directly to the desire to hide away.
If I were to be a “famous” writer, (perish the thought) I would want to avoid tours and pictures on book covers. I can think of nothing worse than having a famous face – unless it is being one of that large group of sad people who want to have a famous face, and be known after they die…
150 years from now that privilege should belong solely to my direct descendants – for they are my only real representation of immortality, that of the genes I have passed down from my ancestors. I am content with that.