Not everybody was a fan of Pop artist Andy Warhol: his film oeuvre started at inaccessible and worked its way inward, and to some sensibilities there was something dreadfully wrong about painting a can of Campbell's Tomato Soup, let alone getting paid big bucks for it. But he was a quotable fellow, and his most famous comment, in this age of blogorrhea and YouTube, has been demonstrated to be almost scarily prescient: "In the future everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes."

I'm not sure what I think of this pronouncement, especially since "everybody," by definition, includes me. By some standards, not necessarily mine, I have accomplished much in this lifetime, and there's nothing wrong with a quarter-hour (whatever the exact timeframe) in the spotlight — except for the minor detail that I don't much like the spotlight. For one thing, it's hot. For another, it's unforgiving: the shadows are few, and hiding within them is difficult.

The odd thing about this, I suppose, is that before reaching adulthood I was apparently something of an exhibitionist, and not in the flasher sense: my brother once asserted that one day in grade school he was warned that he would not be allowed to pull the sort of crap I had. I had to think about that for a moment — for the specific grade in question, I didn't remember any crap I had pulled — but no doubt he was correct, since (1) he tends to remember things like this better than I do anyway and (2) he was on the receiving end, which tends to fix things in the mind rather more firmly than one would like. Still, all the way through high school, I had at least something of the show-off about me, with the notable exception of that mysterious boy/girl business, which I found frightfully easy to avoid.

After all that, a touch of humility was inevitable: as mythologists will remind us, Hubris is followed inexorably by Nemesis. My term in the Army was nothing special, although I did somehow earn a medal for meritorious service, and my college days were indifferent at best. It did not help that I had made scant progress with the ladies, and in the 1980s, my marriage unraveled and my sense of self crumbling, I slipped off into depression, despite the fact that I had established a name for myself in the burgeoning online community. (Perhaps one problem lies in the fact that the name I had established wasn't mine.)

To this day, I'm still a tad diffident about my allotted fifteen minutes of fame, despite the fact that I've made two television appearances, and without regard for the reasonably-high profile in blogdom I am supposed to be enjoying. The latter, at least, provides regular amusement. A couple of weeks ago, I spotted a misspelling in an advertisement for an Adobe product, and duly posted my findings. Yesterday apparently someone in Adobe's damage-control department found the post and passed it around the office; the meter showed about 80 views of that page from individuals with Adobe IP addresses. I'd like to think that this little incident put a bug in their QA department's ear, though I suspect there's at least as much of a chance that there will be a letter from Adobe's legal beagles demanding that I take it down. And if that should happen, it's instant cause célèbre, which will probably buy me a few extra seconds of whatever dubious notoriety I may have. No doubt I'd find the attention somewhat offputting: like Andy Warhol, I have a certain fondness for low lights and trick mirrors.

The Vent

  1 December 2007

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 Copyright © 2007 by Charles G. Hill