Some super scientific thoughts on fame, infamy, finity, and infinity. . . .
Take, for example, the modern mania for tattoos and body piercings. Are not these self-mutilations merely a manifestation of one’s desperate desire for relevance? Is not skin graffiti and rivets in the nose a wild, maniacal scream in the night, as per “HEY! Look at me! I am different! I am cool! I am sexy! I count! I do count, don’t I? I don’t count? You’re kidding me? Please tell me I count! Please tell me! Please! Help!”
Alas, when everyone does it, as they are doing now and as they always do, silly fads such as these become mere herd ritual, stale, staid, passé, boring, zzzzzzzzzz. And when that happens, the more insecure and desperate among us look for other, even more outrageous and debasing, fads to run to.
Long hair, beads and sandals were the shock and awe scream of the Sixties generation announcing to the world that they were different. But the clock was ticking and from the moment an idea is uttered it is never young again. Soon, everyone was sporting long hair, beads and sandals until virtually everybody looked like everybody, again. No sight was ever more ludicrous-looking than that of thousands of “rebelling” hippies all marching in lock step carrying signs and all looking just like the other hippies. . . . Well, maybe no sight was more ludicrous-looking, that is, unless it was that of so-called outlaw biker gangs sporting standardized “colors” as predictable as any military uniform or any three-piece Wall Street business suit ever was. So much for individuality, uniqueness or significance from those quarters. These large-scale attempts at relevance were just new forms of herd behavior. When given the chance, virtually all humans opt for the safety of numbers and remain unthinking, unquestioning, unremarkable members of the mass.
After “flower power,” then came into vogue new attempts to shock such as spiked red and purple hair, black lip stick, green lipstick, male earrings, female nose rings. In their heart of hearts, no one wants the hassle of dying their hair continually green or pink or seeking new places to perforate their skin. But in our mad quest to be relevant, money, time and pain are small obstacles in our path.
Ever seen full-body tattoos in which virtually every inch of a person is covered in ink? Of course you have. Obviously, full-body tats are not just a repellent waste of good ink and bad skin, they are a scream to the world, “Hey, mother fuckers, look at Me! LOOK AT ME! I am unique. I’m different. I am sexy! I matter! Love me! Follow me! Admire me! Honor me! Exalt me! Worship me! Deify me!”
For shy followers, a simple tat on the breast or butt or ankle is a way of saying, “Hello! See me? I’m up-to-snuff. See my tat? I’m cool too! I’m a rebel. I’m different. I’m someone!”
Question: When everyone is “someone,” is anyone anyone?
Honestly, 99% of us are about as noteworthy as an ant on a million-ant ant-hill, tattoos or no tattoos. We shuffle through life, running from the light, going along to get along, fearing to risk, fearing to fail, fearing to fall out of step or fall from fashion. And we do this with all the mind-numbing anonymity of those professional street-crossers in Seinfeld re-runs. We read history, we watch history, we even write history, but we don’t make history. For whatever reasons–guts, brains, talent–almost all of us lack what it takes to be remembered even 15 minutes after we are dead. We are intrigued, fascinated, and awed by those who take the risks and make the history. We live our lives vicariously through them.
My recommendation to anyone who totally lacks the brains, drive or guts to do mighty, memorable deeds and who wants to be remembered for maybe a month or more after their execution by lethal injection: Go postal! Just do it! Kill a noteworthy person, or massacre a bunch of unnoteworthy persons. That should make you unique, different and remembered for at least as long as your trial lasts. Unfortunately for you, your fifteen minutes of infamy will not be of much solace after you are put down. You will be excoriated for the first ten minutes and in another five minutes you will be all but forgotten and as relevant as a hula hoop.