The Tail of Fame

The Tail of Fame

An artist who seeks fame is like a dog chasing his own tail who, when he captures it, does not know what else to do but to continue chasing it. The cruelty of success is that it often leads those who seek such success to participate in their own destruction.

"Don't quit your day job!" is advice frequently given by understandably pessimistic family members and friends to a budding artist who is trying hard to succeed. The conquest of fame is difficult at best, and many end up emotionally if not financially bankrupt. Still, impure motives such as the desire for worshipping fans and praise from peers may spur the artist on. The lure of drowning in fame's imperial glory is not easily resisted.

Those who gain fame most often gain it as a result of exploiting their talent for singing, dancing, painting, or writing, etc. They develop a style that agents market aggressively to hasten popularity, and their ride on the express elevator to the top is a blur. Most would be hard-pressed to tell you how they even got there. Artists cannot remain idle, though. When the performer, painter or writer becomes bored, their work begins to show a lack of continuity in its appeal and it becomes difficult to sustain the attention of the public. After their enthusiasm has dissolved, the public simply moves on to the next flavor of the month. Artists who do attempt to remain current by making even minute changes to their style of writing, dancing or singing, run a significant risk of losing the audience's favor. The public simply discounts styles other than those for which the artist has become famous.

Famous authors' styles—a Tennessee Williams play or a plot by Ernest Hemingway or a poem by Robert Frost or T.S. Eliot—are easily recognizable. The same is true of painters like Monet, Renoir, or Dali and moviemakers like Hitchcock, Fellini, Spielberg, Chen Kaige or Zhang Yimou. Their distinct styles marked a significant change in form from others and gained them fame...

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