Friday, December 11, 2009

Did He who made the lamb make thee?

It's a truism that public life is service if willingly undertaken, and slavery if unwillingly.

This is so in the personal (and private) sense too, obviously, but let's save that discussion for the long winter evenings, what?

We know that anyone who seeks the limelight imagining that it is not, of its essence, a form of serious public service, will sooner or later discover--usually by pillory, almost inevitably by despair--that the liberty they take is the liberty they owe. And that they will pay, whether they want to or not. Or even whether they deserve to pay quite so much.

We, as I say, know this. It's boringly obvious.

What the example of someone like Tiger Woods gives us, though, is novel. And practical. What it tells us is that the choice between service and slavery is made from the outset. That is: the characteristic of servant or slave is not applied retroactively in the event that you've been found out, but that it is assumed--its burdens taken up and borne--at the moment this simple truth is either understood, misunderstood, or rejected.

Thus the man who decides (whether through hubris, or just a perverse and tragic kind of innocence) that he will use the privilege of his celebrity to live the life, say, of carnal fantasy played-out in pornography, does not and cannot succeed in doing so however much he tries and whatever resources he might have at his disposal. Tiger Woods didn't get caught living the fantasy of porn, after all. He got caught banging porn stars. That there is a world of difference here need not be pointed out.

And what better illustration of what this sort of celebrity has attained to? Not the high life, but the lie at the heart of the high life: the slum. A place where fantasy (such as it is) does not grant respite from grim and inevitable reality, but which gives it STDs, divorces, the loss of careers, and unhappiness and shame to last at least a couple of generations. A place in which the dream of escape has become a burden greater than reality.

... It all depends on when the revolution comes, of course, but I don't think there can be any doubt what the next permutation of celebrity scandal will be. Shit-eating. Mark my words.