Fame is a possessive demon

By: Raymund Fernandez December 08,2015 - 11:29 PM

And yet it is true that the preoccupation with fame can get out of hand. Fame and the pursuit of it is admittedly inevitable in the contemporary age. It is inevitable in this age of information where we objectify everything including ourselves into information objects such as what we can view in the social and other media. It had been said how everything is text. It might as well be said also, not entirely hyperbolically, that what cannot be stated or written down in text does not exist. We are all become the text we produce.

And so it comes to pass how in his or her growth, every young artist ought to consider the pitfalls of fame, the pitfalls of being reduced into an object of information. Any form of objectivization can only dehumanize. And it is clear: Not all is well in this age of information and the computer.

Kinutil’s late friend, Bobby Valenzuela, curator and impresario, once pointed to him how many young artists become eventually victimized by their own press releases. Such as when they begin to take them seriously and believe. Fame is a possessive demon. And it seems a contemporary tragedy how people offer in its name blood sacrifices. Such as when people kill and die for it; or devote the greater portion of their lives just to put themselves and their perverted causes in the news; oftentimes, at the expense of doing more meaningful work.

In due time, there must be a new ethos established for current transactions in the pursuit of fame, a value system, perhaps, that we can apply to assess fame for value; especially, those values that do not always translate to money.

Otherwise, there ought to be a way for us to inoculate ourselves from its worst symptoms.

It is inescapable that a creative person must learn how to deal with it. Creative objects cannot do what they were meant to do unless people view them. It is equally inescapable for the creative person to strive to have more people view their works over time. And yet, there are examples of artists who never enjoyed fame in their lifetimes. Artists like Vincent Van Gogh demonstrate how fame may be viewed in the context of time.

The premise is that the artworks themselves have a life of their own; in the same way that text has a life of its own. It can persist over time. And the fact of it’s persisting over time proves its value. Over history and even in the absence of the artist, the artworks themselves may validate their makers by becoming famous or persisting for their own merits.

This is a hopeful thought. The value of art ought not to be at the mercy of fame, which at best is fickle and mostly and profoundly artificial. Not all art that becomes famous deserves it. And there is something to be said for the lone-artist-genius working away from people’s attention. Such an artist as would put his or her art above the realm of mundane concerns.

And something must be said for those who do art and do not become as famous as others, or do not become famous at all.

Indeed, there is really only one necessary value that every good artist must go by: To do good art, the artist must be ready to risk anything and everything (besides, of course, the people he or she loves). A good artist must be driven by the art more than anything else. And he or she cannot put anything above this drive (besides, of course, the people he or she loves, since good art can never really be as important as nor can it ever replace real people).

But for the life of his or her art, the good artist must be ready to face whatever results: Not just failure, damnation, ignominy, poverty, for there is always that possibility; but also success, fortune and perhaps even fame. And it may as well be said how every famous artist ought to bear his or her fame as if it were a heavy burden he or she would be happy to lose at any time.

The good artist must be possessed by her or his art. She or he cannot be that way possessed if she or he is possessed by fame.

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