Fame and The Good Life

This weekend I was reading about the false allure of ‘fame” and this sketch came to mind.  Below I have jotted down some prose to accompany my sketch to help clarify what the sketch says for me.

Admiration of fame is superficial. After all, some people reach fame by luck alone.  But many people reach fame by the muscle of their talent. Yet should we admire talent?  Talent is in large-part a seed inherited at birth.  Thus how can we admire talent which is merely inherited?  Perhaps we should admire the effort that is needed to bring an inherited talent to fruition.  But can we admire an effort that does not come from the heart (passion) but instead comes from fear or hate?  Even a passion-driven talent can be a disaster if it comes from an unbalanced life.  The unbalanced passionate life often ruins the lives of others as well as that of the passionate person.  Yet perhaps even the balanced life is not enough.  How can we admire a balanced life which is not founded on love? For such a life is often bland and un-nourishing.

So is it fame we should admire?   No, we should admire love in a balanced-life that nurtures passion with effort.  It is these that lead to the Good Life.  It is unimportant if talent or fame lie on your path.  Yet talent and fame are what most cultures naively applaud.  Instead, we are wise to look beneath the superficial things which attract the mind and distill those principles which yield the true sustenance of a good life.



Filed under Ethics, Philosophy & Religion

8 responses to “Fame and The Good Life

  1. Brandon

    Great observation. I agree entirely.

    (1) Incidentally, I believe that a person can have both fame and The Good Life, but not The Good Life because of the fame, but in spite of it. It takes a special sort of person to maintain the humility needed to stay healthy in the face of huge talent and/or luck, but the middle path through effort is far more likely to possess an inbuilt humility.

    (2) A side thought in how this applies to religious sensibilities. One of our mutual acquaintances once told me of the importance of Christianity in his life by way of explaining his considerable wealth as not something he owns but something he “has stewardship of”. This is actually quite “spiritually intelligent” if I might use that phrase.

  2. @ Brandon
    Thanks. I agree with your points too!

  3. I really like the diagram. It seems to point to the same conclusion as the famous Buddhist saying that “The joy is in the journey.”

    What I admire about famous people is their determination to go for what they wanted, not the fact that they’re famous.

  4. Hmmm, yes I agree. And I like that you have separated talent from effort, as I know a lot of people that are very talented in something, but have no drive or motivation to use it to their full potential. Conversely, I we have all known people who are highly motivated and put forth effort, but have no real talent in what ever they are attempting.

    Fame, it is a hollow shell like money….always need more and more to keep those good feelings going.

  5. Just finished reading a book that touches on this idea. The modern culture (and hence the modern religion) is built on advertising, consumerism and fame. The problem with fixating on fame is that it is an attempt to instill awe at the superficial level.

    But we can still participate in good awe when we recognize/admire that someone has been able to, as you put it, lead a well-balanced life of passion and effort directed by love.

    As to your diagram — slight disagreement, although it is very clear and appropriate. Luck, like talent, does not solely influence fame. The cliche “lucky in love” comes to mind. I might even say, in my experience, luck has a level of influence upon love, efforts given, passion, and even being well-balanced.

  6. @Lorena :
    Agreed — determination is admirable.

    @ Kyle :
    I do not think “money is hollow”. Money is a substitute for trading in labor (for the most part). Labor is very important. Valuing our labor, cultivating our labor is important. But only until our needs are met: security, food, housing, health, children and moderation in pleasure. After that, it can indeed be a distraction. But the anti-money mantra is harmful, I feel.

    @ Andrew:
    I agree that fixating awe at the superficial level is the goal of much perverse advertising and culture.
    My diagram is NOT meant to show LUCK as a sole influence on fame — it is a potential one of many.
    Luck has an influence on everything. For everything is not God’s Will nor Karma.

  7. @Sabio – Oh no I agree, I didn’t mean that money isn’t needed or required to live, it just is not the accumulation of copious amounts of money which will help solve the problem with Dukkha. Ya know, not one, not two, both one and two. The hollow part is when we chase it with the belief that it will inevitably give us some sense of great security, but then we find those feelings end.

    LOL I am by far not an anti-money mantra, I’ll leave that up to the far lefties.

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