How money and success destroy art


Listening to Thom York interviewed as a guest DJ on NPR's All Songs Considered podcast, someone mentioned to me that to be famous must be the ultimate accomplishment in life, the ultimate way to live.  While I originally agreed with this sentiment, I later realized that there are two distinct types of fame. 

One type of fame, that of the Hollywood actor or international supermodel, arises out of a need to replace the metaphorical question mark on the cover of every magazine, the open spot for a cast-member of some film.  They come to be famous by fulfilling an archetype, doing exactly what has been done before and will be done again. 

Then there is the fame of Andy Warhol, Leonard Cohen, Thom York, Noam Chomsky, or Milan Kundera.  These people have, indeed, achieved the highest state possible in any human life.  Their fame was based on an ability to fully develop and contribute that which makes them unique and authentically themselves.  They aren't simply fulfilling a role set up by some corporation that is pushing a product (magazine, film, TV show, or Pop Idol album).  Instead, they offered up a unique genetic mutation and as the sum of their create "that thing" out of nothing.

That kind of fame is the only kind worth having.  More importantly, these are the only kinds of celebrity worth admiring.