Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


If You Aspire To Fame, Be Famous For Being Who You Are

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

March 28, 2023

"Rosebud." ... Orson Welles embodying Charles Foster "Citizen" Kane, considered to be William Randolph Hearst

This essay, If You Aspire To Fame, Be Famous For Being Who You Are, is the companion piece to The Only Worthwhile Fame.

It is also the seventh in the septology Rosebud: It was written at the same time as

If with certainty, I could reel off the rules and conditions by which and in which life produces satisfaction (ie by which and in which life's circumstances and situations satisfy), being famous would in all likelihood not be among them ie it would not be a prerequisite. The evidence is if it were, all famous people would be satisfied - and if not completely satisfied, then at least more satisfied than the rest of us not so well known, not so popular, not so famous regular guys. OK, maybe they have an advantage over us: if they've coveted being famous as a path to satisfaction, they've already discovered that in and of itself it won't produce satisfaction. It's something the rest of us would do well to get. Here's a clue to the path to being satisfied: it's not a function of being famous.

Consider being pregnant. You're never "a little bit pregnant". You're pregnant ... or you ain't. Like that, you're satisfied ... or you ain't. There's no "a little bit satisfied". What then gives being satisfied, more than just being "a little bit satisfied"? Who can say whence the myth of being famous as a portent of being satisfied arose? But arisen it has. And it's rampant. The truth is it's more rampant than Covid ever was. We're all in its grip. Day time TV and supermarket tabloids titillate it / suggest it (if you were the king, you'd be satisfied; if you were a pop-star / film-star, you'd be satisfied etc). Satisfaction like a possibility  is one of life's great gifts (and paradoxically, the path to it is one of life's great enigmas). Being satisfied often heads our top-ten lists of concerns / issues.

And it's not just you. Falsely assuming being famous / being popular / being loved is the path to being satisfied, is universal. So examining what really brings satisfaction, is a universal inquiry engaged in by all people everywhere, and if not just by all ordinary people, then at least by all contemplative people. "With all this manure, there must be a pony  in here somewhere" (as James Kirkwood may have said), yes? Very quickly, we've learned by trial and error, by being frustrated time and time again, that the source of satisfaction isn't being popular, well known, or famous - no matter how much society trumpets that it is.

It's groomed into us from an early age to covet the rituals of fame and the symbols of fame. We have it that they are what there is to acquire in order to be satisfied - only to discover much later that there's no Rosebud*  anymore. That's the nature of that elusive toy sled: it harkens to some bygone era when we were younger and unconditionally loved as babies / children. That's no longer guaranteed in our latter day adult world. So what makes for satisfaction in our latter day adult world? And in this world, does being known / being popular / being famous (even being loved) carry a sure-fire guarantee of being satisfied?

Here's what I've finally figured out about this: being known, popular / famous isn't worth much as a path to satisfaction, but it may be worth something (it may have some inspirational value) if it's evidence of it. If you aspire to fame, try on being famous for being who you are as an inspiration. It appears being who we are is intrinsically satisfying (for starters, the horse is before the cart). Being who we are is intrinsically satisfying as a function of transformation, not as a cause of it. If you aspire to fame, aspire to be famous for being who you are, for what you speak, for languaging what's possible for human beings. Being who we are (look: we already are  who we are) is an authentic path to being satisfied, the foundation for (not the result of) the only worthwhile fame.

* In Citizen Kane, considered by many to be the most innovative Hollywood movie of all time, and often assumed to be a veiled portrayal of the life of William Randolph Hearst, the protagonist Charles Foster Kane (played by Orson Welles) is dying. Yet after a life of Croesan  riches, none of anything his enormous wealth, fortune, and fame have afforded him, is enough. All he wants is his childhood toy, his sled, his "Rosebud".

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