Thought of the day: Why aren’t the people I know more famous?

Queen Anne's lace & chicory, Ogle Co., July 2010

Queen Anne’s lace & chicory, Ogle Co., July 2010

Wisdom spilling from the tip of my pen on this day, 3 years ago:

28 June 2010

It’s juvenile to want to be famous, or, maybe, it’s not entirely juvenile. Maybe it’s even common to adults to want to feel you are/were/have been/will be seen as a Great Person, to not be just another human eating and breathing and crapping, which of course, even the “great” ones do. Even great people have boring times, too. It seems that only unique times are valued. It’s only for the book-writing or the inventing or performing; it’s only for these minor parts of their lives that we respect/honor/value other people. Nobody cares about Lincoln’s early years–it’s only the last few years of his life that we remember (and he’s still dead; he doesn’t care if we remember him or not, although maybe in life he appreciated the attention, the thought that he’d be remembered).

Why don’t I know more famous people? I mean, why are the people I know not more famous? Why do so many people lead common lives–comfortable, sure, but not notable? Maybe it’s because the things for which one could get famous seem extraneous, besides the point, outside the normal routines of life that actually matter?

I know this — I have realized before that, of course, fame isn’t real compared to one’s daily existence. One’s reputation is B.S., anyway; it’s external to you, you can’t control it.

I don’t want to be famous in the sense that people would ask for a photo with me, movie-star famous, “autograph” famous. But sometimes I think it’d be fun to be a guest on a talk show — not someone who does a five-minute walk-on with Jay Leno, but someone who gets to talk about his upbringing, influences, and artistic processes with Terry Gross. That’s the NPR nerd accomplishment-fantasy I have sometimes.

But I think I’d have to DO something first, like getting a book published by a legit publisher. They seldom put interesting people on radio or TV these days just because they’re interesting (and I do say so of myself).

5 responses to “Thought of the day: Why aren’t the people I know more famous?

  1. I think it’s because getting fame usually takes work. A lot of hard work, unless you are born into fame like Paris Hilton and don’t ever do anything. For most people it takes a drive to want it, and a Lot of hard work to go for it, and the majority of people don’t want to put in the work and hardship it takes to get it. Would be my opinion on why people aren’t famous anyway.

  2. What makes people famous is arbitrary. It takes luck in addition to hard work (doing something worthy of attention and publicizing it). Many people publish books, but only a handful of those authors will be well known. Other good books by good writers won’t get similar attention. So, I think the reason I don’t know more famous people is because they haven’t been lucky enough to get the attention they deserve. Or, because fame isn’t always desirable, maybe they haven’t been *unlucky* enough.

  3. I think there’s also something of the same thing that makes news News…by definition, News is the unusual stuff. By definition, famous people have been given recognition for something they did above and beyond the normal run of the crowd. And just as it’s good that there are not disasters and tragedies every hour (Yes, I realize there are somewhere in the world.), it’s good that there are a small number of famous people and a large number of average. Think of the catastrophe it would be if the numbers were reversed!
    At the same time, I also think there are degrees of fame. A person can be well known in her or his neighborhood or town or …
    I also agree it takes a lot of work and persistence and tenacity. I agree that some people don’t get the attention they deserve. And I agree I like to be expert enough in something to be interviewed by Terry Gross, et al.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.