Special, special, what do you get?

4 08 2013

Pressed on the topic of Hitler, Borges said that “of course I hate and loathe him. His anti-Semitism was very foolish.” This is hard to read because, although we should know better, it’s difficult to stop ourselves expecting wisdom from a person who happens to be a genius.

—Mark O’Connell

I used to believe that talented people were better people.

I wouldn’t have put it that way, back then, don’t know that I even knew I believed this, but I almost certainly did. If you were talented you were special, and if you were special, you were special all the way through.

I think this bias cuts through our celebrity culture, such that fame itself is a signifier of specialness. We want to meet, become friends with these celebrities, hoping that by virtue of being picked by someone special, we’ll become special ourselves.

I don’t want to push that too hard, not least because there’s also a knowingness about this desire, and jokes about “My boyfriend George Clooney” poke holes in the whole cloth of celebrity-dom. Still, why else would any of us who are not-famous and not-friends of the famous care enough about them to make them famous unless we though there was something more to them than [what led them to] the fame itself?

Anyway, it was well into adulthood before I even became aware of this equation, and while I’ve pretty much disabuse myself of the notion, those times that I have met famous folk (mostly actors, mostly while working at Big & National Bookstore), I’ve had to remind myself that they are just folks.

Yes, just-folks with name recognition, just-folks with talent, but when not on stage or in front of a camera, just folks, full stop.

Still, it must be said: I don’t tell my friends when I meet non-famous just-folks.





God cries three times a day

12 03 2013

I don’t get it.

I mean, I do: the Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God, aka, the Pope, is the head of a church with approximately a kabillion and 3 followers and Demeter-only-knows how much land, cash, bullion, baubles, and breweries.

He’s got some pull in the world, I’m trying to say. (Anywhere else, I got nothin’ to say.)

Still, when I peer over the elbows of fellow 4-train travelers to scan the double-page spreads in their newspapers on the papal conclave, I think, Huh.

This seems more like Oscar coverage, or Fashion Week: a Celebrity Conclave for old men in red hats.

There are the reports on what Il Papa will wear (white, to go with the smoke, I suppose), what are the odds of Ouellet or Scola or Turkson (cf. the Sweet Sistine), will the new man (duh) be more of a manager or a spiritual leader because (heads nodding all around) what the papacy needs is someone to lift up the faithful while simultaneously cracking down on corruption in the Vatican and also getting rid of all of the abusers and their enablers and reaching out to victims and bringing light and love to the world.

That’s all.

If you threatened to withhold my morning coffee I’d agree to write out (as soon as you gave me back my java) all of the reasons why the Papal kaffeeklatsch Conclave is a substantive matter worthy of all of the media attention (and live blogs of what’s smokin’ in the Curia’s Faraday cage); I might even toss in for extra credit a meditation on why this matters to a heathen like me.

But, honestly, the media coverage strikes me as nothing so much as furrowed-brow gossip, and the event itself as just another version of Meet the New Boss. . . .

*Sigh* Some days I am a terrible social scientist.