Fame is infamous for its heartbreaks. Fame is a complex within self-identity, an accident of fortune, and a vindication hoped for by the solitary and obscure. In fame we arrive, we finally get the recognition we deserve, we amount to something. The ring of reputation is hollow but we shout in deep empty valleys for fame as for our echo.

Fame is the balm and redress of youth, who crave it and with guitars or pretty steps try to attain the dream of permanent applause. The famous who are empty headed are best of all, since they prove the purity of fame, as a salve for the separation of being an individual. Why bother to be when we can be famous?

Attribution. You are what people call you. Reputation is maintained by so many repetitions of your name. It seems obligatory that political leaders and celebrities will have their name chanted by crowds at their mere visitation. An empty waving hand, and empty slogan, an empty head. Nietzsche has said it: to lead is to be a one followed by many noughts. Out of such hollow attributions the cloth of reputation is stitched.

To want to be remembered is to want to exist as an idea in the mind of another after you have left. To want to be known is to want to be the present idea in the mind of someone in the future. These great stand-ins for eternity vie with each other for the finite allegiance of the human mind. We would like to see ourselves as mere bystanders in this sad drama, but the dream finally is our own.

Behind the drive for success often lies a terrible fear of failure. So too behind the desire for fame is a fear of obscurity, nothingness, oblivion. ‘That it should all have happened so, and nothing come out of it …’; thus we reason ourselves out of meaning. Thus we crave vindication, thus we dream for fame.

But idler still than any wish to preserve oneself as a figment in later minds, is the wish to preserve oneself in one’s own mind, as if to find some final, fixed, stiff image of oneself to focus upon one-pointedly in eternal self-referential meditation. If one has found oneself only as object of knowledge one has not found oneself: one has only settled upon an image, a self-reflection; one has merely acquired the habit of falling into a pose for oneself.

Chuang-tzu tells the story of the Prime Minister coming to call on the aid of Lao-tzu in the running of the emperor’s government. He found Lao-tzu fishing off a bridge, and appealed to him to come and serve the country in high office. Lao-tzu drew the attention of the Prime Minster to a turtle in the mud of the river below, and asked whether the Prime Minster would rather be a 1000-year old tortoise shell in the emperor’s museum, or that little turtle with its tale in the mud. The Prime Minster considered the matter carefully, and sided with the living, however lowly and obscure; to which Lao-tzu replied by asking to be left alone with his own tale in the mud.

Get out and get seen. Be seen being seen. Become known for what you believe in. Put in an appearance at philosophy.