“IN THE FUTURE EVERYBODY WILL
BE WORLD FAMOUS FOR 15 MINUTES. ”
THE NATIONAL DREAM
In the United States of America everybody is entitled to become famous, rich, successful, popular, even infamously, if its necessary, by doing whatever you dream, and aspire to become, regardless of your merits to do so, or at least have a chance to win the big one, playing the lottery, and daydream how you would expend your winnings, once you get the winning ticket.
Most people consider you a rare bird if you do not hold any such lofty aspirations, like becoming somebody worthy of praise by getting rich, or achieve your rightful place in history by succeeding on your not so secret dream of becoming an actor, tycoon, Rock musician, artist, or in whatever field of choice lays your ambition, to make a statement of success.
Once many years ago by ill fortune, and self made mistakes, I had fallen in hard times, and this may be a subject for another story, anyway I took a low level job since I needed a job ASAP. One thing I had clear on my mind at the time was, that whatever it was needed from me, I would do in order to do a great job of a bad situation, taken one thing at a time, and try my best, despite the drudgery of the work, my attitude after a year was rewarded with a promotion by my good performance, however because my honesty when asked by the head of the personnel department what were my future plans for advancing with the new job position in the company, and manifested I had none, I was dismissed, the offer was cancel, and sent me back to my old position!
My lack of ambition was judged as a clear sign that I was not good for the growth of the company, despite my excellent work performance at the same, and the reason why my immediate boss applied for my promotion, ignoring the fact I was willing to do as much effort on my new assignment, regardless of not allowing myself to build sand castles on my imagination, and was perfectly capable of fulfilling such task properly. Soon after, another company offered me a better paid job, took the new position, and did as well, or better in that company as the last one, got numerous awards, being the first, or second employee of the month, gaining numerous prices, and incentives straight for two years, until the company moved elsewhere in the country, being one of the few 4, or 5 employees in over two hundred employees to receive an offer to be paid for moving to the new location on the other side of the country, and it would represent a good career move for me, regardless I decided not to, since had no desire to start my life at a new place where had no interest to relocate, judging I would do well at any future job I may be offered in my city, and there was no need for me to start in an unknown city, preferring familiarity, and old friendships, over success, and a monetary reward of dubious satisfaction, since happiness it’s such a subjective, and relative thing.
FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME
German art historian Benjamin H. D. Buchloh suggests that the core tenet of Warhol’s aesthetic, being “the systematic invalidation of the hierarchies of representational functions and techniques” of art, corresponds directly to the belief that the “hierarchy of subjects worthy to be represented will someday be abolished,” hence anybody, and therefore “everybody,” can be famous once that hierarchy dissipates, “in the future,” and by logical extension of that, “in the future, everybody will be famous,” and not merely those individuals worthy of fame.
On the other hand, wide proliferation of the adapted idiom “my fifteen minutes” and its entrance into common parlance have led to a slightly different application, having to do with both the ephemeral nature of fame in the information age and, more recently, the democratization of media outlets brought about by the advent of the internet. In this formulation, Warhol’s quote has been taken to mean: “At the present, because there are so many channels by which an individual might attain fame, albeit not enduring fame, virtually anyone can become famous for a brief period of time.”
There is a third and even more remote interpretation of the term, as used by an individual who has been legitimately famous or skirted celebrity for a brief period of time, that period of time being his or her “fifteen minutes.”
DEMOCRACY VS MERITOCRACY
One of the breakthroughs of political history was the invention and implementation of democracy in the West. Its virtue was that it could take absolute power away from despots, tyrants, autocrats, and monarchs and emperors parading under a Divine Right, and hand a lot of that power to the formerly oppressed citizens, thus evening up the odds.
In a world where ideas and information flow freely, where governments have to answer to other governments, and where free speech is a sign of a healthy civilization, democracy becomes especially important and valuable, and suggesting that it is not up to snuff is a tricky business. Even in cases where corruption perverts a democratic system, it’s usually traced to a deviation from this ideal, not to the ideal itself.
Although meritocracy as a term is a relatively recently coined word (1958), the concept of a government based on standardized examinations originates from the works of Confucius, along with other Legalist and Confucian philosophers. The first meritocracy was implemented in the second century BC/BCE, by the Han Dynasty, which introduced the world’s first civil service exams evaluating the “merit” of officials. Meritocracy as a concept spread from China to British India during the seventeenth century, and then into continental Europe and the United States.
With the translation of Confucian texts during the Enlightenment, the concept of a meritocracy reached intellectuals in the West, who saw it as an alternative to the traditional ancient regime of Europe. In the United States, the assassination of President James A. Garfield in 1881 prompted the replacement of the American Spoils System with a meritocracy. In 1883, The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act was passed, stipulating government jobs should be awarded on the basis of merit through competitive exams, rather than ties to politicians or political affiliation.
The most common form of meritocratic screening found today is the college degree. Higher education is an imperfect meritocratic screening system for various reasons, such as lack of uniform standards worldwide, lack of scope, not all occupations and processes are included, and lack of access, some talented people never have an opportunity to participate because of the expense, most especially in developing countries. Nonetheless, academic degrees serve some amount of meritocratic screening purpose in the absence of a more refined methodology. Education alone, however, does not constitute a complete system, as meritocracy must automatically confer power and authority, which a degree does not accomplish independently.
MY VIEWS ON THE MATTER
I will not ramble on the merits of one system over the other, my point it’s to make aware my fellow Americans that we should never confuse our much vaunted democracy as our natural right to success, and fame. Democracy it’s a form of government that allows us to be consider as equals, when it come to our rights as individuals, and we deserve to be respected individually, regardless of our humble rank as the garbage collector, or as the powerful first citizen, the president of the United States of America. Sure almost any citizen could be president according to our laws, but I remind you that in 240 years of our history, we had only 43 presidents a rather short number if becoming a president would be God’s given right of every Harry, Dick and Tom in America.
Freedom for any individual to pursue a possibility doesn’t mean it’s a free pass for everybody to have a right to become exalted in rank in whatever you do, just because you have dreams of obtaining your fifteen minutes of fame without having to work hard for what you believe to deserve.
Dreaming it’s fine, dreaming too much and lacking the skills, or means to realize your dream it’s practically the definition of a fool. And who wants to be a fool?
Well judging by the numbers, it seem many of us fit the definition, I will not tire you with anecdotes of such foolery I am sure you have many anecdotes of your own, from relatives, friends, acquaintances at work, or elsewhere, maybe at one point in our life, ourselves played such role.
Yes we all deserve a chance, and yes we all should do our best to succeed, but before dreaming too high, we should do better by studying our shortcomings, and see a way to amend them, after all, success function more like a Meritocracy, than a Democracy despite both being not perfect. There is not a substitute for working hard at what you want, and sometimes that it’s not enough, other factors weight on the balance, so a philosophical attitude it’s necessary to deal with our lot in life, but please do not expect that after a life of mediocrity, and lack of effort to be rewarded with fame, and richness if you didn’t inherit a legacy from a rich family. If we examine our life and figure our handicaps, but are not willing to do anything, oh well, you can still buy your lotto ticket and dream like anybody else!
But my advice save the money of the ticket the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are roughly 1 in 259 million, not very good, rather look at the other side of the coin, and that is to realize, and discover who you truly are, what its important is to be happy with yourself, and there’s nothing wrong with realizing that you are not ambitious, while this does not bother, or disturb you, the important thing is to be happy in your heart with who you are, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be better, just the realization of knowing yourself it’s preferable than winning the lotto, in fact winning the lotto it may destroy your life. Meanwhile knowing yourself will be your real winning.
For many years I thought there was something wrong with my character, since never cared to become rich doing this, or that, neither to achieve success, or pursuing concrete goals, actually I was pretty indifferent to acquire lots of money, and as long as I had enough to go by, was pretty happy with, until…
Well that, is another story to be told on a future post, let just me say, that after years discover that my lack of ambition, turned to be my biggest treasure, and what an asset this is! Precisely my lack of ambition freed me of the need to be the kind of person I was not, and it was not in my nature to be, and stop me from pursuing the wrong things, the kind of stuff that would have been detrimental to my soul.
Life it’s an irony, doesn’t it?
But a wise irony it is!
Carl Jung said: “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials. Lin Yutang
And the grass grows by itself.