Ouch, this is going to be a tough one to talk through. What do I mean by that anyway? I'm not sure actually. I thought I'd just rant on and see where it leads me. So bare with me while I twist around my own shoulder, and arguments, with this trail of thought. Now don't get me wrong, I don't want to imply that culture isn't important. I'd even say it's crucial to human society. Would we be humans without culture? I don't think so.
It all started when I simply asked Love "what is culture good for anyway?". Why are famous people famous and what makes them "better" than anyone else? The reason for it was that we're going to a party this weekend and we bought Patti Smiths biography as a gift. I had heard her name before, but I can't say I knew anything about her. I didn't know if she wrote, or sang or whatever she was famous for. But apparently Patti Smith is very famous however, or at least she used to be. She is seen as a "very important culture figure". She has been a "great source of influence" for alot of people, according to wikipedia.com. But why does that make her so good?
I thought; "what makes someone an important culture figure anyway?". What have they contributed to society and the lives of people that make them deserve that fame and acknowledgement? As I asked about it I got to think about the painting someone had that turned out to be a Da Vinci painting. That meant that that painting was suddenly worth like a thousand times more, over night. But had the painting actually changed? No. It was the exact... same... painting. The quality didn't change, the motive didn't change. Nothing had changed. But someone else had painted it and suddenly it was... better.
Why is that? Why would the painting be better because Da Vinci had painted it? Why would someone pay more for a scribble by Patti Smith or any other famous person, than mine? Is this "fanboyism" that everyone, anyone, seems to show about objects originating from famous people, something that humans simply do? Just like little girls screaming when they find a poster of Backstreet Boys in some magazine, others scream when they find a painting made by some semi-famous person at an auction. We -all- have some item we'd find extremely cool to own, just because some famous person has done something to it.
This phenomena, and I admit I am speculating now, has to be exclusive for mankind. Or do apes, or any other animal, collect items from other famous apes? Do gorillas keep the itching-stick of some prominent silver back as a keep sake? Who knows, maybe. Although my guess would be no, only humans are that interested in something as abstract as "fame".
But what did fame have to do with culture? Well, science people rarely get famous, and yet they are the ones contributing with something "actual" to society. When they create something, or write about something, it's to change things, make us understand the world better and even maybe make it a better place (although I think that is quite secondary to most scientists, they're just curious people). But what do culture figures, the ones who become the really famous ones, actually contribute to society? Do they make the world a better place? Do they make us understand ourselves better? I must say that I suppose they do, but in a way that is very hard to measure. But why else would we take so much time with culture? Why else would it be so incredibly important to us that a painting can become a thousand times more valuable just because someone else painted it?
And not anyone gets famous. I suppose out of all the people trying, it's only those who really do something special, something we other people acknowledge as important enough, who become famous. Maybe they're not all groundbreaking, but groundbreaking enough for us to want to become a part of it. Maybe we hope their geniouses and innovation will rub off on us? "I was there". "I am special too". "I own a painting by Da Vinci so I am also important".
It doesn't really make any sense, and trying to figure it out here and now would be impossible. I am sure it has something to do with the fact that humans are incredibly social. Everything we do is affected by and affects people around us at all times. For some reason one bi-product of our extreme sociability has become the need for famous people. Or the need to be noticed and maybe we feel noticed through famous people. By being a small part of them we are famous too. But I have really no idea. It is quite an interesting phenomena though.