The Famished Craving
Reflections on the Role of Fame in Human Affairs
History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
Guides us by vanities. Think now
She gives when our attention is distracted
And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions
That the giving famishes the craving
T S Eliot – Gerontion
It has been said that a “celebrity is someone who is famous for being well known”. It is a definition that underscores one of the most curious aspects of contemporary life. As uniquely modern as it is however, fascination for those whose chief distinction is that large numbers of people are fascinated by them goes all the way back to the dawn of human culture.
With each passing day, however, it is becoming clearer that the evermore vertiginous ‘fame, fad, fanfare’ phenomenon that has come to dominate popular culture is a symptom of a deepening spiritual, social and psychological crisis. In order to understand this crisis and to appreciate how uniquely Christian spirituality and Christian discipleship address its underlying malaise we will undertake an historical survey of the anthropological and psychological role that fame has played in human affairs.
Using this survey as a backdrop Gil Bailie rethinks our social and psychological presuppositions and ponders anew the anthropological and psychological implications of Christian conversion.