Am I successful?

The hungry artist, starving in a one-roomed hovel is the traditional vision we have of a creative person, the painter, the musician, the geek, the hacker, the actor, the cracker – this modern day tortured soul, consumed by poverty and deeply in debt, starved of recognition and acclaim.

These self-proclaimed heroes who wallow in this self-indulgent quagmire achieve obscurity and a lonely demise. To actively follow a creative path that benefits no one is the path of the pathetic and the failure – the everyday is supposedly where taste and inspiration is to be found, the shared pleasures of popular culture, with its homogenized high street and celebrity peddling, porno dreams. Quick fix, new trick, global consuming societies who have ignored the potential cultural backlash and philosophical implications of this bulldozing revolution called ‘choice’ and ‘popularism’. To ignore it is a mistake but to not understand it is a catastrophe. After modernism, postmodernism and global terror, is there a space left for the romantic? ‘Celebrity’ is a relatively new definition of success. The cult of celebrity has turned Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame into an art form in itself. ‘Celebrity Chefs’, ‘Celebrity Gardeners’, ‘Celebrity Cleaners’ even ‘Celebrity Entrepreneurs’. Is ‘Celebrity’ part of this outdated nineteenth century romantic paradigm?  Where is the intellectual discipline? Where is the social profit?

We are not living in a romantic age – the speed trap that captures the mind and soul is dependant on its bandwidth and download time.  This gets us to the end of the day but it remains relentless – tick tock. This fast lane we find ourselves hurtling down is the failure of our twenty-four seven society. This impacts on everything we do creating more and more collapse. It is engrained into our psyche from an early age that failure is a bad thing. From birth to death we are compared, or we compare ourselves, with people that have failed or succeeded. To be successful is to appear to our peers as socially, financially and intellectually superior. To fail is the complete opposite, to be ostracized by this successful society.

Our preoccupation with success and its consequent obsession creates within us a crisis of identity. ‘Am I successful?’ ‘Do I appear to be successful?’ ‘Do my friends think I’m successful?’  ‘Am I a failure?’