Life’s Ironies: Prizes, Success, Points-of-View

On winning a Best Actor award at the Golden Globes, Bill Nighy commented:

I used to think that prizes were demeaning and divisive, until I got one, and now they seem sort of meaningful and real.

Also today, we got the news that Bob Dylan has apparently bought a mansion in the Scottish Highlands. Which somehow I think the young Bob Dylan would never have imagined that he would ever do. Probably he’d have associated buying mansions with selling out. I don’t know, I’m not that knowledgeable about him, but that’s my guess, based on what he sang about, and what I saw in No Direction Home.

And the greatest irony of all – John Lennon sang:

… Imagine no possesions… I wonder if you can…

And Yoko Ono is still collecting truckloads of royalties from that.

My point?

People are rotten judges on what their point-of-view will be in the future. They think their point-of-view represents some unchanging essence of who they are. But the view you have on life just depends on where you happen to be, and which way you’re looking. The same as the view out of a window depends on where that particular window is.

If you’re poor, you imagine that if you got rich, you wouldn’t behave like rich people do. (And maybe you have unprintable names that you call them.)

If you’re a success, you imagine that if you’d been born in different circumstances, you’d have been just as dynamic. That you wouldn’t give in to hopelessness and despair unlike the sad cases you see on the streets, and either pity or look down on.

If you’re blissfully in love, you imagine that your relationship will never descend into the squabbles and pettiness and stupidity that you’ve seen in other people’s marriages.

And you imagine that if you’d been born in a village in southern Afghanistan, or Victorian London, or a slave-owning Roman family, you somehow would have the same thoughts and values and personality that you do now, not the thoughts and values and personalities that people there have and had.

All of which makes you, and me, and all of us, far too ready to pass judgement on others, thinking that in their shoes we’d do something different than they do.

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2 Responses to Life’s Ironies: Prizes, Success, Points-of-View

  1. Belladonna says:

    You make a valid point. Our perceptions and values do shift over time as circumstances change. However, I don’t know that moving from young radical words to having a mansion is selling out. It is my opinion that there are MANY ways to sell out…and some of them happen without the acquisition of fancy abode or piles of shiny things. Abundance is not the enemy. Disrespecting / exploiting / shaming other people for some sort of personal advantage is. That can be done from high on a mountain top or from the next spot on the sidewalk on skid row.

  2. torchwolf says:

    I think you may have misunderstood my point. I wasn’t saying *I* thought they had “sold out”. On the contrary, I was making a point more about the self-righteousness judgements that people make. And the irony of what, for example, the younger Bill Nighy would have thought about a person like the older Bill Nighy.

    At the same time, I’m not saying they haven’t sold out either.

    Actually, when you get down and dirty into people’s lives, most everyone has in some way, by their own lights.

    I’m not in the business of judging that either. I’m in the business of pointing out that that’s pretty much the human condition.

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