Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday's Quote: Unrelated, but culturally relevant

A couple that caught my attention recently...

"Since the first celebrities emerged, mixing their work and their lives in powerful dreams of projected personality, the possibility of confusing art and reality has existed.  The man considered by some (but not me) to be the world's first celebrity, Lord Byron, was a great poet, but that's not why so many admirers asked for locks of his hair that he reportedly had to start sending out clippings from his dog, Boatswain.  Men and women adored Byron because, according to one woman who slept with him, he was 'mad, bad, and dangerous to know.'  The greatest American actor of the nineteenth century, Edwin Booth, thought his career was over when his brother shot President Lincoln.  He soon learned that audiences worshipped [sic] him more — and worshipped [sic] his tortured performances of 'Hamlet' and 'Julius Caesar' more — because they knew about his personal tragedy.  And the great celebrities of the twentieth century ... ran away from the cameras, but this only made their fans eager to see more and know more.  Today, celebrity has become a perpetual enterprise of more, with Twitter acting as both the engine and the agent of unending revelation.  Jump on or jump off. ...

"Kanye [West] has jumped on.  Like every hip-hop artist today, Kanye sees himself as a brand and dreams of total integration of himself with everything that can conceivably be consumed.  But being a brand involves being both more than a human being and less, which may explain why there's a wild, frantic sadness to his personality, or what Cyril Connolly once described as the 'fugitive distress of hedonism.'  To be a brand is ultimately to be a hollow thing.  Like a bell.  The hollowness of Kanye West rings out and his distress only makes him more attractive.  Being a brand has its own demands, and they are growing more and more pressing by the second.  Kanye at least is willing to go all the way.  'I'm living in the future so the present is my past. / My presence is a present, kiss my ass,'  he says in 'Monster.'  All that in just ninety-two characters."
-- from "Why Can't Kanye West Shut the Hell Up?" by Esquire contributor Stephen Marche


"There's a climate of hate out there, all right, but it doesn't derive from the innocuous use of political clich├ęs.  And former Gov. Palin and the tea party movement are more the targets than the source."
-- from "The Arizona Tragedy and the Politics of Blood Libel" by Wall Street Journal columnist Glenn Harlan Reynolds

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