1/24/14 Bieber, Davis, Ozymandias Narratives

I try not to write too much about current, ephemeral events, choosing rather to write about the human condition, which hardly ever changes. Sometimes current events illustrate the unchanging human condition, so I suppose when these overlap, I must indulge myself.

It is not surprising that Justin Bieber is going bad. I don’t wish him any bad luck, since it seems that being a multi-millionaire at 19, having surrounded yourself with a hangers-on entourage of sychophants, added to the usual intemperate bullet-proof and invincible decisions made by impatient youth, disaster is inevitable. You can insert your own list of young actors/musicians here that traveled down the road that Bieber seems to be on; it is a long list.

I wonder why the policemen in Opa Locka, Florida, decided to give Bieber an escort of two patrol cars? Since when do celebrities on a self-indulgent ass-tear get to have police escorts? I understand from the press that the two police officers have been suspended pending an investigation, but I suspect that they are young, too…and felt bullet-proof, wanting to be a part of a hip, in crowd.

No one is bullet-proof. In fact, rather than bullets, it is likely to be the narrative we construct for ourselves that pierces us in the end.

Texas state senator Wendy Davis created a narrative for herself that seems to be in the process of being revealed as an “embellishment.” Her supporters have used that word rather than saying that she lied, thus advancing their own narrative which may be an “embellishment.” In the late presidential election, Nobel Laureate Economist Paul Krugman stated that during one of the Presidential debates Mitt Romney told “untruths” while allowing that the President committed some “minor fudges.” The difference between a minor fudge and an untruth may be in the ears of the hearer, but is nevertheless a distinction of degree, not substance.

Some say Wendy Davis has “embellished.” Some say she flat out lied. It seems to me that she has advanced a narrative that has a weakening foundation, such as her narrative of persistent self-reliance and boot-strap doggedness to succeed despite the obstacles Texas women face. I am not privy to what sort of arrangement Ms. Davis may have made with her second husband who ultimately paid the costs of her Harvard law degree, and who ultimately was awarded custody of his child by Davis and Davis’ child from a previous marriage. In the mother-friendly State of Texas, the child custody decision alone speaks volumes. It seems that Davis was not quite so self-reliant, in fact, it seems that she was fortunate to have a family support system to rely on.

I cannot vouch for how her life seems to be for her. Nor can I vouch for how Justin Bieber’s life seems to be to him. I can vouch for the idea that we are ultimately held hostage to the very narratives we create for ourselves and their likelihood of becoming scripts, and subsequently history in the most roundabout manner. If Bieber is turning into a bad-boy, then his scripted bad-boyness will likely overtake him. Davis could find her narrative of intense self-reliance becoming a reality, with her assuming a sort of a pariah status as her defenders also get to defend her “embellishments,” much to their own personal distaste. She could look around and find no one any longer in her corner, including her own family.

There is no doubt that most resumés have an embellishment or two. Where do we cross over from an embellishment to a lie? It is perhaps when we come to believe our own embellishments as truth and then augment the embellishments until the resulting narrative has no relation to the truth. We may even start to believe it ourselves. We think we have become bullet-proof because of the remarkable narrative, picked up and championed by others, that has become our personal history. Eventually overtaken by the truth, our narrative fails us. Hearing it regurgitated back to us by our followers does not make it an objective truth. Reading our narrative as reported in the media does not make it true. It may make for a good story, but good stories and the truth are seldom connected.

Do we really begin to believe our own narrative when we hear it on the lips of others? I suppose that’s why the most savvy people never believe their own press….good or bad.

Eventually, all that remained of the monument to Ozymandias was two vast and trunkless legs partially covered by sand. The flesh and bone of Ozymandias had long returned to the earth, and his eternal monument to himself was being slowly sand-blasted away, itself returning to dust. I think the narrative he advanced was misguided. Perhaps it was an “embellishment.”

Perhaps Ozymandias had come to believe his own narrative.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s